September 05, 2016

Karen Green: On the legacy of Mother Teresa and the importance of community engagement

Karen Green

Karen Green


Today is the International Day of Charity, observed by United Nations member states and designated to mark the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, and honour the great work charities do to improve people’s lives and give hope to many around the world. 

Mother Teresa, also known as Saint Teresa in the Catholic faith following her canonisation by Pope Francis yesterday, led an unparalleled and inspiring missionary movement throughout her life, dedicated to helping those in need throughout our communities.

Community aid remains at the heart of Mother Teresa’s legacy, and supporting communities and improving lives is the foundation of BNY Mellon’s philanthropic philosophy. 

At heart, our charitable giving is about lifting others – and we’ve put that into practice throughout the world through our pathways program. By focusing on skills and workforce development, enhancing education, job training and career development for at-risk individuals, we invest the skills and talents of our 50,000 employees around the world to power the potential of the communities in which they live and work.

Here in Europe, I’ve personally seen the significant impact that our primary school reading scheme has had on children in our community. Our skills development program has also given the opportunity for our employees to use the skills they employ on a daily basis to help charities through skills-based volunteering, something we support with three days of paid volunteering leave per year.

One of my year’s personal highlights was hearing back from Kinnoull Primary School in Perth, Scotland. BNY Mellon employees developed a five-week program teaching financial literacy and introducing investments to children aged 11 and 12, using a trading game and a combination of mathematics and analytical skills to make learning fun.

Financial acumen is an essential part of adult life, often neglected by many curriculums, and something that BNY Mellon promotes through our learning and development team. At the end of program the students had covered various financial areas including personal finance, pensions and insurance, as well as the Scottish financial services landscape.  They learnt so much that they could help guide their head teacher on her upcoming holiday travel insurance cover.  When I heard about this, it made me smile enormously; as I’m sure the head teacher did too.

Working in our community doesn’t just benefit those we’re helping, I’ve found that our employees gain a huge amount from their work with charities and communities, and witnessing the direct impact we can have on other people’s lives. Volunteering gives our teams a sense of ownership, as individuals return to work with stories of their voluntary work, as well as develop their management, communication, influencing, decision-making and leadership skills.

As an employer, we’re always looking for ways to help our employees develop the skills they need to grow in the workplace, and charitable voluntary work gives us the opportunity to both develop our employees and lift others in our community. Skills learned in our community partnership program help us to become better teachers, managers and colleagues, growing the next generation of financial services professionals.

A favourite motto of Mother Teresa was: "Do small things with great love".  These are very wise words.  I think if we all do our bit, however small it may seem; we might live in a world where the next Mother Teresa has a little bit less to do.

To learn more about our charitable and community endeavours, please click here to download our 2015 CSR report and here to access our People Report.