Corporate Philanthropy

By Yüksel Holding A.S., Deniz Sazak (Yüksel)
02:48 PM, July 22, 2014

Athletics is not as popular as soccer or basketball in Turkey. Therefore, even though there are many promising Turkish young athletes, finding sponsorships for athletics is not easy. The Yılmaz Sazak International Athletics Meetings (YSIAM) have been organized now for 18 years under the main sponsorship of Yüksel. In parallel with Yüksel’s environmental sustainability strategy, the YSIAM is the first carbon-neutral track-and-field organization in Europe. The organization of the Meetings by Yüksel includes the integration of philanthropy into management processes and business activities. Corporate volunteering is achieved by the employees of Yüksel, who work for the Meetings to contribute to athletics in Turkey.

Yüksel attaches great importance to creating a reputation that focuses on corporate responsibility. This is proven by being the leading – and the first – company in the construction sector to participate in the UN Global Compact, publishing a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)-based sustainability report, having an ethical code of conduct, and measuring its carbon footprint.

Apart from strategic social investments, Yüksel also engages with philanthropic organizations. As a contractor company, Yüksel mostly prefers to make contributions for projects that are related to its core business. However, as a contractor, it is not easy to find core business-related projects. For this reason, Yüksel prefers to support the fields that are important to national assets and that are not supported sufficiently by the government or other private companies. Athletics is one of them.

Photo: Yüksel
Photo: Yüksel

Yılmaz Sazak International Athletics Meetings

It is commonly known that athletics is not as popular as soccer or basketball in most countries. This is no different in Turkey. As a result of the low level of popularity of athletics, private sector companies usually do not choose to provide financial support for track and field. 

Yılmaz Sazak, one of the founding partners of Yüksel Holding, made the decision to popularize this sport with the Turkish public and to support athletes with personal contributions. Sazak, who personally provided sponsorship for athletes, started to organize Yılmaz Sazak Age Groups Indoors Meetings in 1996 to provide wide-ranging support for athletics in Turkey. The athletes in the age groups of 12–13, 14–15, and 16–17 need to feel worthy and know that there are valid reasons for continuing to participate in track and field. They need motivation as well as financial and moral support.

The meetings became international in 1999. In three years, there were nine participating countries and the meetings started to be held outdoors, allowing the organization to reach more people. The YSIAM have been organized now for 18 years under the main sponsorship of Yüksel.

Beyond donations

The organization of the Meetings by Yüksel includes the integration of philanthropy into management processes and business activities. The Corporate Communications Department (CCD) of Yüksel is involved in each phase. The ultimate goal of this extra support is to make the Meetings as attractive as possible for the foreign participants. Having more foreign participants leads to a better chance of young Turkish athletes competing on an international platform. Additionally, if foreign participants increase, press interest also increases. 

Yüksel is aware of the media’s crucial role in increasing the popularity of athletics. In order to motivate the press to support athletics, Yüksel conducted an awards project for five years called the Kenan Onuk Special Athletics Award. The award was provided by Yüksel, the awards ceremony was organized by Yüksel’s CCD, and it took place in Yüksel’s Recreation Center. 

Photo: Yüksel
Photo: Yüksel

Another project has emerged from Yüksel’s efforts to increase the popularity of athletics in Turkey – a project that brings arts and sports together. During the Meetings, a professional photography team takes snapshots of the athletes and the spectators during the most interesting moments, capturing their expressions of excitement, ambition, pride, as well as disappointment and exhaustion. Yüksel organizes an annual exhibition with these photographs called the Yılmaz Sazak Photography Exhibition. The exhibition takes place in Yüksel’s Recreation Center and is free of charge. For Yüksel’s 50th Year Celebrations in 2013, CCD held exhibitions of these photos in Turkey’s most crowded airports: İstanbul Atatürk, Ankara Esenboğa, and İzmir Adnan Menderes. The exhibitions contribute toward increasing the motivation of young athletes who attend the Meetings. When athletes view themselves in these photos at the exhibitions, the Meetings become more meaningful for them.

Yüksel achieves corporate volunteering through the YSIAM. In terms of corporate citizenship, Yüksel has provided a personal sponsorship program since 2007, called Rising Stars, for athletes and their coaches who have attracted attention with their successes during the YSIAM. Currently, three young athletes – Emel Dereli, Pınar Aday, and Nimet Karakuş – are involved in the Rising Stars project. Besides financial help, they also receive support from the corporation, which increases their self-esteem and motivation. Their record-breaking achievements are the concrete results of this support.

Reflection of sustainability strategy

The environmental sustainability strategy of the company directly affects the YSIAM, which has been carbon neutral since 2012. In this sense, the YSIAM is the first carbon-neutral athletics organization in Europe. The carbon emissions released are balanced with carbon credits taken from the Gold Standard projects.

Project start

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Sazak Deniz
“The World’s 225 Largest International Contractors.”
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Facts of Yüksel:

  • Yüksel was founded in 1963 in Ankara. Since 1983, Yüksel has continued with its international activities, and since 2007, it has earned a place among “The World’s 225 Largest International Contractors.”
  • Yüksel has been a participant of the UN Global Compact since 2006.
  • Yüksel took an active role by joining the UN Global Compact Network Turkey Board of Directors in 2013.
  • Yüksel is the first contractor company in the Turkish construction sector that measures its carbon footprint.
  • Yüksel is the first contractor company in the Turkish construction sector that has been publishing a GRI-based sustainability report since 2011.

About the Authors
Yüksel Holding A.S.

Yüksel Brand was founded in Ankara with the origination of Yüksel İnşaat Ltd. in 1963.

In the early years, Yüksel İnşaat specialized in contracts for ports, quays and docks, constructing one-third of Turkey’s sea ports. In later years, it played an important and effective role in the development of Turkey's infrastructure with numerous projects of transportation, energy, treatment and industrial facilities.

In order to establish the umbrella organization Yüksel Holding; Yüksel İnşaat and all of its subsidiaries in diverse areas of energy, tourism, finance, information technology, security, defense industry, manufacturing and investment, came together in 1997; afterwards Yüksel Holding have become one of the pioneer company groups that fulfills its responsibility towards respected employees, wider society and environmental sustainability.

Sazak, Deniz
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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