Charity Begins At ‘Work’…Or Does It?

November 19, 2013

I am personally supporting Movember (a portmanteau word from moustache and November), the annual month-long event that involves the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of Men’s health issues. These include prostate and testicular cancer as well as other male cancers and issues. The goal of Movember is to “change the face of men’s health.”

Interestingly the company that I was working with at the start of the month had told their employees that they couldn’t take part! As a result mine was the only stubbly upper lip on display that week. The banning of Movember had caused some resentment within the team. In contrast the company I was working with last week had fully embraced Movember and as such a spectacular array of nasal underlining styles were on display.

My own moustache is in the official Movember ‘trucker’ style but has been referred to as everything from a Mexican to a 70’s blue movie star! Personally I cannot wait until December so I can shave it off! Having said that I will have raised something in the order of £250 and the ‘awareness’ of male health issues is priceless.

So as business leaders where do you stand on charity at work? It is an issue that causes a lot of debate and can seriously affect staff morale. It can also paint the employer as uncaring and dictatorial on the one hand but carefree and lax in discipline on the other.

When I questioned some of the people complaining that they weren’t allowed to take part in the Movember event I discovered that some of them didn’t even realise what the cause was. They just saw is as an excuse to skip shaving for a month! From that point of view I support their employer in saying no!

The company that had encouraged people to take part in Movember had posters about the charity and charts showing how much money was being raised. Their offices are visited by clients but it would have been very clear why the office seemed to be full of extras from a spaghetti western!

My top tip to ensure your business gets the ‘buzz’ from charity events but without the sting in the tail is this.  At the start of each year (calendar or fiscal) declare clearly as a business what charity (or charities) you will be supporting. Give all staff the chance to nominate their preferred ones but YOU manage the final choice.

If sudden disasters occur then you can always review each request on its merits but regular events will either be supported or not. This also helps keep control as a business when you are bombarded by other charities requesting help.

How long left till December, this ‘thing’ doesn’t half itch!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Salvatore Vuono at

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