How Zenith Insurance created a culture of giving
Perth-based Zenith Insurance protects its aged care and community and disability services clients from risks, so they can focus on their important work: protecting vulnerable Australians.
CEO Kim Gilbert takes his responsibilities seriously. “We want our clients to use their limited finances to best serve their clients,” he explains. “But beyond that, I believe we are all members of the same community and need to help one another.”
A family culture
“At Zenith, we all look after one another as a team, and the natural extension of this is that we also look to help other members of our community where possible,” says Gilbert of the supportive, inclusive environment his firm stands for.
“I am a huge believer in always treating everyone the way you would like to be treated – whether they are family, friends, staff, clients or even strangers. I think our staff feel the same way.”
He is also a big believer in ‘karma’. “We’ve been fortunate that Zenith is a successful business – due to the efforts of our staff – so it’s incumbent on us to give back to our community, and to help those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Zenith’s staff embrace its many varied philanthropic activities – from the annual Melbourne Cup lunch to support Nulsen Disability Services to the St Vincent’s CEO Sleepout and Christmas appeal and Empowering Cambodia’s Cow Bank.
“I think our people get a real buzz out of helping others, and making a difference to someone’s life,” saysGilbert.
Giving back is personal
Nulsen Disability Services, a Zenith client, is only partially funded by government. It provides disabled residents with independent living – but fitting out residences for those with high needs doesn’t come cheaply. So in 2006, Gilbert organised a bike ride from Albany to Margaret River, raising $100,000 for Nulsen’s Charlesworth Estate Project.
“Our staff have built up close relationships with Nulsen and their residents over the years,” explains Gilbert. “My first interaction with them had a profound effect on me – growing up in a very small country town, I had no idea of the challenges people with different abilities face. So through our events, we raise important funds but we also raise awareness – and we make sure the residents who can come have a great time.”
Every year, Zenith hosts a Melbourne Cup Lunch that typically raises $20,000 for the organisation. “This year we had over 130 people, including 17 Nulsen residents and their carers, all dressed as heroes or villains,” says Gilbert. “It’s a fantastic day out for them, and we present them with gift boxes prepared by our staff to take back to share with other residents.”
I think our people get a real buzz out of helping others, and making a difference to someone’s life.
“My hope is always that employees who attend from our supporting organisations embrace the fact there are people with different abilities, they are part of our community and should be able to enjoy all that life offers them,” says Gilbert.
He says last year’s lunch raised money to sponsor an indigenous resident’s first art exhibition. Zenith has since commissioned two paintings from Greg Barr, to depict how he sees the relationship between him, Nulsen and Zenith.
“I think that was the proudest moment for our entire team – most of Greg’s paintings sold, and we believe he was the first disabled Noongar to hold a private exhibition.”
An endurance test with the Red Sky Ride
Gilbert also co-founded the Red Sky Ride challenge in 2008 to raise funds for Solaris Cancer Care. Every February, about 20 riders cycle 1,000km over a week – it’s hot and painful, which Gilbert says reflects the experience every cancer sufferer has to go through.
“Solaris is a remarkable organisation that improves quality of life for patients, carers and their families after a cancer diagnosis,” he says. “We’ve raised over $3million over 10 years – and I only missed one ride when I had both my knees replaced.”
A sustainable difference
Zenith’s staff have enthusiastically embraced the Cow Bank, making gold coin donations at the office bar to fund cows for Cambodians. “Through Empowering Cambodia’s work, cows can provide recurring income and help people break the poverty cycle,” says Gilbert. “As a result of the fundraising, the team have purchased 40 cows so far – who’ve then produced 45 calves.”
The team at Zenith also donate their time to many client activities – from family day BBQs for clients to the Vinnies Christmas Appeal.
“We all want to help organisations that provide essential services to those who need it most,” says Gilbert. “It gives us all a sense of meaningful purpose.”