A PBN SPECIAL SECTION: 2011 BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Community service boosts GTECH’s bottom line
HITTING THE LOTTO: GTECH Senior Vice President Robert Vincent speaks with Senior Director of Corporate Communications Angela Geryak Wiczek in the company's Providence headquarters. Vincent credits the company's commitment to giving back to the community for part of its success.
PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
By Sarah Parsons Contributing Writer
In an economy marked by bank bailouts and the Occupy Wall Street movement, most folks don’t expect much social good to come from corporate America. But at GTECH Corp., a global lottery-and-gaming-services provider headquartered in Providence, giving back to the community is just as much a priority as raking in profits.
GTECH, a subsidiary of Italy-based Lottomatica Group, is a leader in the gaming-technology industry and the only provider of online, instant ticket, and video-lottery systems for the Rhode Island Lottery. GTECH made more than $1.1 billion in 2010 alone. It boasts 1,100 employees in its Rhode Island offices and more than 6,000 in 40-plus countries globally.
Much of those impressive stats are the result of a shrewd business strategy and cutting-edge products. But Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Robert Vincent says that part of the company’s success lies in its commitment to giving back to the community through various service initiatives.
“If you look at the very nature of what we do, we service lotteries around the world that are set up to raise funds for good causes,” said Vincent, who oversees the company’s charitable-giving and community-involvement programs. “So when we compete for business, those organizations want to know that we’re having a big role in our community. It’s important to our ongoing business to enhance and promote these kinds of activities.”
To that end, GTECH encourages all of its employees to volunteer and give back to their respective communities. GTECH offers its employees one paid day off each year to perform community service at a charity of their choice. The company participates in annual events like Toys for Tots and holiday food drives, and makes thousands of dollars of charitable contributions every year.
GTECH’s flagship community initiative is its After School Advantage program. The program, which started in 1999, aims to close the digital divide for disadvantaged children by establishing computer labs at community centers, after-school programs and local schools. GTECH purchases new computers, software, office furniture and other equipment, and employees volunteer their time painting, ordering supplies and setting up the labs at centers throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries.
“You see kids on the computers and they’re so excited [about] what GTECH does,” said Kimberly Fraser, a public-relations representative at GTECH who volunteers with the After School Advantage program. “It just puts a smile on your face.”
Tariq Williams, an IT specialist at GTECH since 2008, is especially fond of the company’s After School Advantage program. He volunteers his time setting up computers and installing software before and after work, on days off, and even on company holidays, such as the day after Thanksgiving.
“Being a product of some of these communities, I know how it feels to be a have-not person,” Williams said. “Now I’m in a position where I can dedicate my time and give back. It’s a great feeling.”
GTECH’s After School Advantage program has established 164 computer labs so far, 37 in Rhode Island. The company is currently working on setting up two more computer labs in the state at the West End Community Center and Zuccolo Recreation Center, both located in Providence.
The company’s community involvement heightens during the holiday season, when even senior-level staff get into the spirit. Company Chairman Don Sweitzer and his wife dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus every December for GTECH’s Breakfast with Santa, an event that raises money for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
GTECH employees also work with the Toys for Tots program and the Capital City Community Center, which helped develop the company’s annual “Adopt a Family” program. This seasonal initiative allows employees to sponsor a disadvantaged family that can’t afford to purchase their own holiday gifts. In 2010, 22 families and three senior citizens were “adopted” by GTECH employees, who provided their adoptive families with items like winter clothes, bedding, cookware and other household products.
“Many of the major organizations in Rhode Island have some relationship to GTECH,” said Vincent. “In 2010 we donated time and resources to more than 85 community and nonprofit organizations. That number is that big because of our employee volume.”
Employees are encouraged to give back to organizations that are important to them personally, too. In addition to providing all employees one paid day off each year to volunteer, GTECH offers several programs where the company will donate to a charity of an employee’s choosing. Under GTECH’s “Dollars for Doers” initiative, the company will donate $250 to any nonprofit where an employee has volunteered at least 25 hours per year. The company also offers a “matching gifts” plan, which encourages employees to make donations to U.S.-based universities. GTECH will match each donation dollar-for-dollar, up to $500 per year.
Another popular incentive program is GTECH’s “team grants.” Employees are encouraged to band together in teams of 10 or more to participate in community-service events such as walk-a-thons, charity road races and the Special Olympics. If 10 or more people participate in a charity-sponsored event or service project, GTECH will donate $1,000 to that organization. A few nonprofits that benefited from this team-based program in 2010 include the American Cancer Society, the East Greenwich Rotary and the Providence Animal Rescue League.
“It recognizes the contribution our employees make, but even more than that, employees feel pretty good that their company is willing to support something that they think is important,” said Vincent.
Indeed, GTECH’s commitment to community service is one of the features that some employees like best about the company.
“Community involvement was important to me before I started at GTECH,” said Williams. “After taking a position at GTECH, it’s given me more of a platform to do it [community service] with the After School Advantage program.”
Angela Wiczek, senior director of corporate communications at GTECH, has been with the company since October 1999. “I always said I would leave when it got boring,” she said. “It hasn’t gotten boring yet.” •