Kathy Flack, corporate meeting planner at Brooks Brothers, the oldest clothing retailer in America, takes pride in the company’s commitment to helping its employees. She proudly talks about the Tyler Hughes Fund that provides Brooks Brothers associates an opportunity to contribute through payroll deductions as well as by donating paid time off. Several thousands of dollars and years of vacation time have been pooled to be granted to qualified associates who are either facing illness or life-changing circumstances. Family members are also eligible for help through the fund. The program’s namesake was a young man who worked in the Seattle Brooks Brothers store and was stricken with a fatal illness. While he was sick, his colleagues sent their good wishes as well as monetary donations. This internal charity formally started in 2008 and has raised more than $500,000.
“There is something truly special about helping someone within your own company. It makes it much more real. This fund is something I really believe in,” says Flack. “I really like that social responsibility is a big thrust of the company.”
For a retailer with about 200 stores, Brooks Brothers has raised an impressive amount of money—more than $4 million—for St. Jude Children’s Research. For the past six years, an internal contest has been held to see what store/associate can raise the most money for St. Jude. The top earners are flown to Memphis where they are given a tour of the hospital, a jaunt that Flack is in charge of planning. “The St. Jude trip is a tour of the hospital and an opportunity to meet some of the patients. The children are the motivation for the drive to collect funds, and no one comes away unmoved.”