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TAKING HEART

Dentsu Aegis bridges digital divide for less privileged kids

This year's outreach programme centres on cybersecurity.

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Dentsu Aegis Network employees during the company's One Day For Change on May 11. Almost 7,000 Dentsu Aegis Network employees from 13 markets in the Asia-Pacific contribute over 49,000 hours through skills-based volunteering.

GOING digital is no longer the future but very much the present.

With that in mind, media and digital marketing communications stalwart Dentsu Aegis Network has made concerted efforts to level the playing field by bridging the digital divide for underprivileged children.

Phil Teeman, chief executive officer, Dentsu Aegis Network South-east Asia and Singapore, said: "The pace of technological capability and adoption is constantly increasing, and we see a widening in the digital gap where those with less access to the benefits of technology get left behind.

"As a global network, we can harness the skills of our talents and our relationships with industry partners, to do our part in bridging this divide."

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In April 2018, Posterscope Singapore, an out-of-home media agency under the network, collaborated with music app Shazam to roll out Unmute Daniel, a digital campaign aimed at raising awareness around the issue of cyberbullying in Singapore for Singapore Children's Society.

The company also channels such efforts through its global employees volunteer initiative, One Day For Change, which was first introduced in 2014.

This year's iteration, held on May 11, built off on last year's theme Champions For Children, and saw over 6,800 Dentsu Aegis Network employees from 13 markets in the Asia-Pacific contribute over 49,000 hours through skills-based volunteering. This was a 50 per cent increase from 2017 in the number of hours dedicated by the employees to local communities.

In this year's outreach programme, employees taught the children from Care Corner Child Development Centre lessons in cybersecurity through harnessing virtual reality and augmented reality, among others.

Mr Teeman explained: "By providing the platform to learn about the opportunities and risks that come about with the digital economy, we also teach them to safeguard themselves by understanding cybersecurity early on."

While many of the efforts during One Day For Change was centred on children, Dentsu Aegis Network employees still dedicated their time to pursue other community-driven activities.

They returned for a third spell to help with the cleaning of Chen Su Lan Methodist Home and were also involved in an environmental clean-up at Pasir Ris Park.

And their Singapore office is also growing its green footprint. It was the first Asia-Pacific office to launch the #BePlasticFree initiative, where employees pledged a commitment to eliminate plastic use within the office.

Mr Teeman said: "We ran a campaign providing education and tips around reducing, reusing and recycling plastic."

Employees in Singapore have saved over S$1,200 each month by eliminating such uses of plastic in the office.

The move has caught the attention of other regional offices, and Mr Teeman shared that over 10 other offices.

Recognising that many employees commit time to their own volunteering efforts out of the office, Dentsu Aegis Network has introduced the option for them to take up additional volunteering to pursue such activities.

On the expansion of its CSR footprint the region, Mr Teeman said Dentsu Aegis Network will be launching a new programme to schools in Singapore.

"The Code is a programme that focuses on fostering creativity, identifying opportunities for future talent, encouraging diversity and promoting empowerment to students at schools in Singapore in 2019," he added.

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