Corporate partnerships: Talk Talk can walk the walk in charity link-up

How the telecoms company turned a cyber attack into a good news story, plus corporate partnerships round-up

The partnership has led to a number of fundraising events
The partnership has led to a number of fundraising events

< This article has been amended; see final paragraph

When the chief executive of the telecoms company TalkTalk decided to make a good-will gesture in the wake of a cyber attack that affected more than 150,000 of its customers in October 2015, its long-term charity partner, Ambitious about Autism, was perfectly placed to benefit.

The charity had been TalkTalk's partner for the previous 15 years - way before the company demerged from Carphone Warehouse in 2010 - so it was a logical choice to be the recipient of a £220,000 donation from the company's chief executive, Baroness Dido Harding. The amount represented Harding's entire cash bonus that year.

Just over a year later, Ambitious About Autism, a national charity that provides educational support to young people with the condition, received some more good news from Harding.

At a gala dinner featuring entertainment from the broadcaster Johnny Vaughan, she revealed that the company had raised more than £3m for the charity in past 10 years.

Harding later shared the news in a blog post on the company intranet, prompting many positive comments from some of TalkTalk's 2,400 employees.

"We were overwhelmed," says Lauren Young, corporate social responsibility lead at TalkTalk. "One father of a child with autism said it was a fantastic achievement that meant so much to his family."

Young says the employee went on to speak to the company about his concerns about finding employment for his child when they grow up - an area to which TalkTalk has already turned its hand.

Employment measures

In a bid to expand the partnership beyond fundraising with TalkTalk's staff and suppliers - which takes place mostly at sporting events such as sponsored walks, dragon boating and cricket matches, as well as at the firm's annual gala - the company is in talks in with Ambitious about Autism to find a way of supporting autistic young people into employment.

Another important aspect of the partnership is the Ethernet connection TalkTalk provides for free at the schools the charity runs and the online forum, Talk about Autism, which it helped fund and establish in 2009 to give families affected by autism a place to seek advice and share their experiences.

Young says TalkTalk has no plans to end its 15-year partnership with the charity. "It makes sense to continue because we've created something that works for both organisations," she says.

< This article has been updated to make it clear that £3m was raised in the past 10 years

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