#GivingMatters at Tesco


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We had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Aniisu Verghese. Mr.Verghese is actively involved with the Corporate Social Responsibility Impact and Engagement at Tesco HSC.

      Q1.   What is your role and for how long have you been with the organisation?

      Mr. Verghese: I lead Corporate Communications for Tesco HSC, the technology and retail operations centre for Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers. As part of my responsibilities I oversee our Corporate Social Responsibility impact and engagement. I have been in this role since August 2013.

Q2.   What was the idea behind giving at Tesco and what platforms have you adopted to ensure a Giving culture?

Mr. Verghese: At Tesco, one of our core values is "Using our scale for good". It's about taking that idea one significant step further and creating greater value for society as a whole. Through our scale we're able to make a positive difference to some of the biggest challenges facing the world. Corporate Social Responsibility is important to Tesco HSC for several reasons. It is a commitment made at all levels of the organisation. We recognise that what we stand for as an organisation matters to our customers and stakeholders alike and paves the way for building a sustainable business for the future. Our colleagues are passionate about supporting the community and causes close to their hearts through fundraising efforts and volunteering.
Our CSR activities are mainly focused on four pillars: Youth4Ever, Care4Nature, Skills4Life and Fund Raising and Volunteering Activities. Under the umbrella of Youth4Ever we encourage our colleagues to lead healthy and more active lives through health and wellness initiatives. The Skills4Ever initiative is targeted at empowering young people from vulnerable backgrounds by helping them build life skills through programs that encourage the development of self-esteem, confidence, talent and problem solving abilities. Care4Nature is one of the key initiatives where we are creating awareness and inspiring colleagues to cultivate eco-friendly habits and participate in 'green' events through the year. We are striving towards a more sustainable means of operations through initiatives such as rain water harvesting, carpooling, usage of one-sided printed notebooks and optimising transportation facilities for colleagues.

With the efforts of our fantastic volunteers, as part of Education Transfer through Volunteer Engagement we recently engaged with Government Higher Primary School, Marathahalli and Government Higher Primary School, Nalurhalli to coach the students in Computers and English language.

Q3.  In regards to Payroll Giving, 2000+ employees from Tesco have chosen to contribute towards the program. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?

Mr. Verghese: Our association with the Payroll giving program goes back to November 2011 and we now have over 2000 of our 6500 colleagues actively participating. We believe that our colleagues need to have the flexibility and opportunity to give back in ways that matter to them and in a simple, personal and transparent manner. This was made possible through the Give India program and we have received excellent feedback from our colleagues on this initiative. The range of causes and the direct feedback they receive from those whom they have helped makes this program all the more fulfilling for colleagues.

Q4. Given that employees are largely occupied with development of products and customer service, how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged with CSR initiatives?

Mr. Verghese: We always look for ways to encourage our colleagues to give back to the community. CSR is also a personal commitment and choice and we encourage our colleagues to find a cause which aligns with our business purpose and collectively make a difference. We have partner NGOs who work with us and we seek opportunities to volunteer on every occasion. We have also sought ways in which we can connect colleagues with those we directly impact.

Q5. Lastly, what lies in the future for Giving at Tesco?

Mr. Verghese: We see a bright future for Giving at Tesco. This has been and will always be at the heart of everything we do. Our approach to CSR is consensus led and bottom-up, with colleagues taking the lead on themes they believe will make a difference to the communities around us and are in line with our business priorities. The core team conceptualizes, designs and implements solutions by engaging a wider group of volunteers.

#GivingMatters at Amdocs India


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For 30 years, Amdocs have achieved service providers' success and overcome their biggest challenges. To win in the connected world, service providers rely on Amdocs to simplify the customer experience, harness data explosion, stay ahead with new services and improve operational efficiency. The global company uniquely combines a market-leading BSS, OSS, and network control and optimization product portfolio with value-driven professional services and managed services operations. With revenue of $3.6 billion in fiscal 2014, Amdocs' workforce of more than 22,000 serves customers in over 80 countries worldwide.

We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Anshoo Gaur, President and Head of Amdocs India. Mr. Gaur has been with Amdocs for 8 years and has spearheaded various strategic initiatives. It was interesting to learn about various platforms adopted to promote a strong giving culture at Amdocs.

Q.1 What is your role and for how long have you been with the organization?

Mr. Gaur: As president and head of Amdocs India, I am responsible for driving Amdocs India delivery and business growth. I have been with the company for 8 years.  Additionally, I provide leadership to various strategic initiatives including;leadership development, employee engagement, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Q.2 What was the idea behind  giving at Amdocs and what platforms have you adopted to ensure a Giving culture?

Mr. Gaur: At Amdocs, the culture of giving is not just monetary. "Giving" is about contributing through ones’ skills, knowledge, time and effort. And in this frame, our approach is to design the program in such a way that we include as many people as possible, “widen the tent” as one may say. We believe that all of us have a desire to “Give back”, but often practical and logistical constraints get in the way. We focus on trying to remove these constraints.

Amdocs has been celebrating the Joy of Giving -now known as ‘Daan Utsav’. The week-long celebrations provide employees multiple opportunities to contribute towards the society in a variety of ways. One of the activities held last year was the Wish Tree, which gave a platform to our employees to fulfill the wishes of underprivileged young students through financial contributions. Some of the other activities were:
  •  Food for Thought, in which employees came together and sold food items to their fellow colleagues and raised funds
  •  Fund raising for Book distribution drive
  •  Auction of non-required household to raise various funds.
Besides these regular programs, Amdocs often reaches out to people affected by natural disasters. In the recent past, our employees joined hands to support thousands of flood victims in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir
Another such program is the Payroll Giving Program. We started this program 2 years ago in partnership with GiveIndia. This program allows our employees to make monetary contributions to social causes with an assurance that their money will reach the needy.

Q3. Speaking of Payroll Giving, to date 1500+ employees from Amdocs have chosen to contribute towards the program. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?

Mr. Gaur: With great pride I can share with you that 27% of the Amdocs employees in India have signed up for this program and we expect this amount to increase in the near future.

The Payroll Giving program provides a transparent social contribution platform to those employees who are interested in monetary contributions in addition to, or as opposed to, contributing through their time, knowledge, and skills. It not only gives them the option of choosing from various causes but also allows them to contribute consistently. A utilization report of their contribution is transparently shared. We believe that the number of donors can be higher through highlighting the flexibility that exists within the program to direct funds to causes that are dear to each one of our employees.

Q.4. Given that employees are working round the clock in different shifts, how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged in CSR initiatives?

Mr. Gaur: As we deliver mission critical solutions to the world’s leading Communication Service Providers we, in some cases, have to operate aligned with our customers’ operating hours. We consider this operating reality as we design our CSR initiatives, and this ties back to the idea of “widening the tent".

A collaborative and participative approach to employee engagement within the process is also key to continued program success. Employee volunteers across business units and disciplines take an active role in defining the program charter, deciding on the projects to be executed and evaluating new community partners. They are also empowered to drive the projects themselves with an objective of scalability and sustainability. Essentially we recognize the innate desire of employees to contribute towards the society while balancing their day-to-day work and life. We have done this by bringing “CSR to work”. Employees participate over weekends too in varied volunteering programs of their interests.

As an example, our  Mentoring, Coaching,  and Academic counseling programs, which bring numerous benefits to everyone involved, are flexible and can be conducted during the day or evening. Here employees benefit from taking responsibility for someone else's success, which builds a mindset of accountability in everything they do.

Q.5. Lastly, what lies in the future for Giving at Amdocs?

Mr. Gaur: Our CSR vision and goals are aligned to enable societal transformation in the areas of promoting education, employability and livelihood opportunities for underprivileged youths. We will continue investing into the causes that fit into this vision. We will also continue to provide varied opportunities to our employees to contribute through their time, skills, knowledge, and money.

We know that our Gen Y population is very eager to “Give back” to the society, and with us providing innovative platforms for our employees, I see that future of Giving is bright.

#GivingMatters at CYIENT Ltd.


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CYIENT LIMITED, (formerly INFOTECH ENTERPRISES LTD.,) is a company focused on providing solutions to engineering, networks and operations. Their solutions range from product development and life-cycle support, to network engineering.

We had the chance to talk with Mr. Anand Parameswaran, Sr. Vice President, HR & Talent Deployment at CYIENT. Mr. Parameswaran has 20+ years of industry experience.

Q1. What is your role and for how long have you been with the organization?

Mr. Parameswaran: I head Human Resources and Talent Deployment and am responsible for positioning CYIENT as a preferred employer. My core role is ensuring employee satisfaction and progressive career development opportunities.
Prior to taking this role, I had led sales and delivery for the Heavy Equipment, Transportation, HiTech, Consumer and Medical (HTH) business unit in CYIENT. I was responsible for driving engagement, profitability and revenue growth across these industry verticals. I have been associated with CYIENT more than 6.5 years.

Q2. What was the idea behind giving at Cyient and what platforms have you adopted to ensure a Giving culture?

Mr. Parameswaran: CYIENT strongly believes in giving back to society in a measure that is proportionate to its success in business. Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are executed by CYIENT FOUNDATION (formerly INFOTECH ENTERPRISES CHARITABLE TRUST), a voluntary organization established in 2002 by Chairman B. V. R. Mohan Reddy with a goal of improving the quality of education imparted to underprivileged children in Government Schools.

The goal is to make adopted Government schools the preferred place to learn. To achieve this, we provide infrastructure support like brick and mortar buildings, library, labs, teaching aids, teaching staff etc., with an aim to increase student enrolment, attendance, and retention and pass rate. CYIENT appreciates the need for supporting basic organizational or administrative needs at the institutional level towards building a sustainable society with self-reliant people.

CYIENT's CSR initiative goes beyond charity, with the belief that as a responsible corporate it should take into account its impact on society as much as creating business value.
We believe in the philosophy that sustained development of society is vital to the sustained growth of the businesses that exist within that community. This belief has led us to spend over 1% of our net profits previously towards CSR initiatives. This has increased to 2% during the current year.

Q3. In regards to Payroll Giving, to date 1200+ employees from Cyient have chosen to contribute towards the program. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?

Mr. Parameswaran: Payroll giving is an amazing platform for sustained revenue creation for the non-profitable organizations which are genuinely doing work in the area of social service. This gives a great choice and also creates a sense of purpose for our associates. We would like to believe our associates are happier working for a socially aware and sensitive organization. We would like to do a lot more through payroll giving and are in the process of running awareness sessions across the organization.
The culture of giving is not just raising funds, "Giving" includes volunteering effort. We have 1900+ CSR Volunteers participate in various CSR initiatives.
At CYIENT LIMITED., we create and deliver services that enhance business agility. Our leading-edge solutions enable major organizations worldwide to achieve measurable and substantial benefits. Our solutions include product development and life-cycle support, process and network engineering, plus data transformation and analytics.
We have more than 12,500 associates across 38 global locations, with delivery centers in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. We are experts in the aerospace, consumer, energy, medical, oil and gas, mining, heavy equipment, hi-tech, rail transportation, telecom and utilities industries.

Q4.  Given that most of the employees are busy, how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged in CSR initiatives?

Mr. Parameswaran: Our CSR team designs programs which allow our associates to participate during their weekend and gives encouragement to the volunteers through a "pat on back". We are continuously on the lookout for projects and initiatives that may not necessarily be periodic, but has increased numbers associates participation.

Q5. Lastly, what lies in the future for Giving at CYIENT?

Mr. Parameswaran: We encourage CSR participation and a culture of giving through multiple platforms- through Payroll Giving program, Associates Volunteering and participation in community development programs.

Our payroll giving program offers associates a platform to help change lives by making contribution to the causes of their choice. CYIENT contributes an equal amount for causes that fall under the organization's CSR focus areas - education, health, skill development and business aligned innovation . The Payroll Giving program offers a unique proposition to associates as they can identify and contribute to causes of their choice from a wide variety of projects. The important factor is that the causes and NGOs are audited and scrutinized by GiveIndia to ensure that such contributions are meaningfully utilized for serving the intended beneficiaries.

At CYIENT LTD., we believe that we have the responsibility to serve our Clients, Associates, Stakeholders and the Society. Our CSR philosophy is aligned to the broader cause of serving society on areas supporting disadvantaged communities, the children and the unemployed. We shall continue to provide support to causes that fall under the framework as outlined above. Also, we will continue to reiterate our commitment towards providing platforms and opportunities for our associates to make a difference by making financial contributions or contributions of their time through volunteering initiatives.

Give a Gift with Meaning


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The great Indian holiday season is well and truly here. While it is a time to let go and embody the festive spirit, there are many of us who feel the pressure of giving the right gift. The self driven stress is not of making a statement of largesse but to just be thoughtful and make the gift count. Seems simple enough, but anyone who has tried to put some thought behind their gifting, knows just how hard it really is. Unfortunately, this is not just restricted to the happy festive season where at least you have long standing rituals and traditions to fall back on; giving the appropriate gift for birthdays is even a trickier proposition. And even more so in the case of large corporations, where you do want to be employee friendly and make the employees feel loved by personalizing the gift as much as possible. It sounds great on paper but it near impossible to implement.

We are inundated with birthday cards, flowers, cakes and a small celebration in some cases. But how would it feel if you instead are gifted a donation, something which will make not just a difference to your life, but also to someone struggling and in need of your help. Genpact India has done just that in partnership with GiveIndia. They strive to make their employees feel special on their birthday by gifting a donation to them, a mid-day meal for two school going children for a month on behalf of the birthday celebrant. 
The initiative is the brainchild of Mr. Sidhartha Shishoo, VP – HR & CSR leader of Genpact. Mr. Shishoo says “Rather than a regular greeting card or even flowers/chocolates, this donation is changing lives – what better way to celebrate an occasion! Most employees responded saying they were touched by the gesture - and as a socially responsible organization this was a perfect option. The GiveIndia portal gives us great donation options with a wide range of NGOs & causes. The entire process was automated and easy to set up – sending branded & personalized Birthday messages to employees across India on the day.”

Some of the recipients have gotten back with effusive praise for the initiative; Mr. Lovekesh Aneja was so overwhelmed by the gesture that he even offered to match the contribution.

This is a new milestone in employee engagement and Genpact India has truly led the way. Maybe, this will spark innovation in the rest of us. 

#GivingMatters at Jardine Llyod Thompson India


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JLT India Pvt. Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group, one of world’s leading global insurance broking, employee benefits and consultancy firm. JLT India provides a number of services categorized under the following: Operations, IT, Specialised Accounting, Knowledge Services, Group Business Process Management. This month we find out how the organization excels in engaging its employees through various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

We met with Ms. Roopa Kochhar, Director-HR at JLT India. Ms. Kochhar has 12+ years of rich experience in the Human Resources space and is managing the CSR function at JLT India. We learnt about the various platforms adopted to promote a giving culture, challenges faced and the road ahead.

Q1. What is your role and for how long have you been with the organisation?

Roopa: I work in the capacity of the Chairperson of our CSR function at JLT India called WeCare. WeCare has been supporting our charity partner, Udaan for the last 7 years however the committee was set up 4 years ago under the able guidance of our ex-CEO, Mr. V Balamurugan. Today, the committee is spearheaded by our current CEO, Mr. Puneet Satyawadi. The committee, responsible for governance and delivery of our CSR agenda , comprises of another director and 6 members representing different functions within the organisation and working towards specific roles and responsibilities.

Q2. What was the idea behind giving at JLT and what platforms have you adopted to ensure Giving culture?

Roopa: A key theme of the JLT India CSR agenda is to enable our employees to go beyond the realm of business and associate themselves with social causes that create a positive impact at the grassroots level. The culture of giving is not just monetary; yes, funding support is key for success of the initiatives driven by our CSR partners. However, "Giving" in our CSR dictionary is also about time and volunteering effort. Hence, we act as the main benefactor for Udaan as well as allow our employees time off work to participate in volunteering activities. We use platforms like Payroll Giving and the India Giving Challenge to generate awareness about our supported causes and raise funds for these initiatives.

Q3. Speaking of Payroll Giving, to date over 400+ employees from JLT have chosen to contribute towards the program. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?

Roopa: Payroll giving is a good means of sustained revenue generation for the charities of our choice and creates a sense of purpose for our employees. We would like to believe employees are happier working for a socially aware/ sensitive organisation. We would like to do a lot more through payroll giving and are in the process of running awareness sessions across the organisation.

Q4. Given that employees are working round the clock in different shifts, how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged in CSR initiatives?

Roopa: Varying shifts can pose a challenge. Allowing employees some time off during the work week and designing volunteering programs that suit their availability helps address part of the challenge. We are continuously on the lookout for projects and initiatives that may not necessarily be periodic but are high impact for employee participation to be sustained.

Q5. JLT annually participates in the India Giving Challenge and last year was among the Top 5 Corporations in raising funds. What were the strategies and planning used to achieve this feat? How are you planning to go about it this year?
Roopa: Over the years the India Giving Challenge has become a phenomena at JLT India. From mailers to standees at high visibility areas of the office, word of mouth to floor walks and team competitions, the committee deploys various marketing activities to raise funds during IGC. We have also started talking about our CSR initiatives, Payroll Giving and IGC at induction sessions for new joiners. This year, we are planning an auction of photographs captured by employees in addition to other activities to raise funds.

Q6. Lastly, what lies in the future for Giving at JLT?
Roopa: The future looks promising! Our commitment towards giving back to society is evidenced by having a formal CSR policy in place, multiple volunteering programs, and garnering greater support from our global offices for our constant pipeline of charitable initiatives.

Behind-the-scenes: Scouting out NGOs




Reproduced below is an email Tarika sent her team about her experiences through Uttar Pradesh. Tarika travels across the country to visits and chronicle our NGOs, their founders and the amazing work they do at http://ngos.giveindia.org. . As it gives a good sense of the behind-the-scenes activities that our teams go through, to scout out the best NGOs for you, it has been posted here. 

Hi All,

Since its going to be quite a while until I get back to Bombay, and I had quite an interesting time, I thought I'd update you all about my Uttar Pradesh NGO visits by email. 

Samerth's school is located 4 hours away from Raipur
First stop when I left Bombay after the 15th August weekend was Raipur. I was off to visit the NGO Samerth. They run a school for tribal children in Chhattisgarh, which takes about 4 hrs to get to (by car) from Raipur. This was my first visit to a tribal school and I had to talk to the parents here via the school teacher acting as translator! Most of the (pre-school) children on the other hand were just petrified of me. One kid started crying and on seeing him so did a dozen others - and didn't stop till I left! So the pictures I took here were only of half the class.
At Samerth's school for tribal children

On the way back, cops kept stopping our car every 100m or so asking us where we were headed. And told us that after a certain point, there was a "chakka jaam". Not sure what exactly that means but turns out that the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister was coming to a nearby town/village ( which also happened to be his hometown/village) and the villagers were protesting. He had promised them a school, which hadn't been fulfilled. I kind of freaked when we had to stop to figure out what to do. Bike after bike with 3 men each holding lathis and with dupattas tied as bandanas kept passing by. A few phone calls to local cops on duty later, we were asked to drive back 30 mins and take an alternative route. The driver initially refused because its a really bad road and he was scared of his car getting stuck in keechar. But when we approached, we saw that it had been done up by MREGA. Phew! We drove down and returned a little later than expected. God knows what we would have done otherwise. We were a good 2 hrs away even from a rundown hotel!
GiveIndia employee distributing saris to poor widows at Maitri, Vrindavan
I then headed to Mathura to visit Maitri's home for widows. I was totally blown away by their work as well as their founder Winnie Singh. She's a very good speaker - her story on how she set up Maitri is quite inspiring! The NGO essentially supports poor widows who have come to spend the rest of their lives (after their husband's deaths) in Vrindavan since their families have abandoned them. On Day 1, I met Winnie and her husband at their upcoming Satyamev-Jayate supported center. We chatted for hours. With the construction work and the widows' bhajans, it was just too noisy to get video of the interview so I just noted everything down on paper. The city of Mathura though is really something else. It's unbelievable how it's still stuck in the 19th century living off the fact that it was Lord Krishna's birthplace. On the NGO staff's insistence, I did visit a few temples in the evening as well as the Ganga aarti. But the highlight truly was when we were heading to the Ganga aarti on a cycle rickshaw. Passing through a crowded, narrow street, my spectacles were suddenly taken off my face. Yes, I say "taken off my face" because a monkey literally yanked them off! He then went up to the roof of some shops and chewed on them while a banana-seller realised his opportunity to make some quick money and came to my rescue. The banana-seller kept throwing bananas up to the monkey in the hope that he would leave the glasses for the bananas. Rs. 25 worth of bananas later, that worked; and with a long stick, we pulled the glasses down. Surprisingly in one piece, through crooked and with monkey teeth marks on them!
Shramik Bharti's recording studio that transmits educational information

The highlight of my next visit, which was to the Kanpur-based Shramik Bharti, was being interviewed for "Mehmaan Manch" - a weekly talk show on the local radio in UP (91.2). Since the radio station was on our route to meet the villagers (for my writeups for http://ngos.giveindia.org) , their CEO Rakesh asked me to stop by for 10 minutes to have a look. He was really looking for funding ideas for the station from me. Little did I realise that their staff (who are all volunteers from the village) would want me to be a guest speaker. So I spoke about GiveIndia, what had brought me to the villages that day, and of course signed off with a message for girls to study so that they stand a chance to become like me ;-)I have asked them for a copy of the interview once the edited version is in place - will share.
Milaan's school where classes are going on while work continues...
Post Kanpur, I headed to Lucknow. Nothing eventful here but have to say that Milaan's school is on its way to becoming like Christel House Foundations (CHF). To get what I am saying, watch the video on CHF put up on http://ngos.giveindia.org/ I had scheduled 2 days for the visit but we finished in a day. But the team here was really nice and let me use a computer through day 2 at their office. They even took me out to dinner the first night.  
One of the only pictures I managed to sneak, because of the monkeys,
 at the Ganga aarti, 

Last stop was Kiran Society in Varanasi. I really wish the visit was better organised here. The NGO is located 1 hr from the main city, in Madhopar village. And their school bus also picks up visitors to the NGO daily and drops them back to the city along with the children. So I could have ideally finished everything in one day by interacting with the children in the bus on the way there and back. Unfortunately this didn't strike Kiran's team and I took a train that only got into Varanasi at 9am (instead of another that would get into the city at 6am) as I thought 6am would be inconvenient for the driver (as he would need to leave Kiran at 5am to come get me). Further, it's only when I got there that I realised that their Founder lives at Kiran itself. Their website mentions that their Founder is from Switzerland. It's only at Kiran that I realised that the "JK" in ther CEO's name, Mrs. Sangeetha JK, stands for "Juddith Keller" - Sangeetha is her Indian adopted name! So I missed meeting her as she was in Bangalore when I visited :-(

BTW, ORG team, its because of this connection that they have many donors abroad. But many were not able to donate during the India Tax Saving Challenge because of the second level password. I spoke to one of their long term volunteers from Switzerland for a couple of hours on day 2. He was very upset about foreigners not being able to donate and went on about how our site is flawed till I explained it all. He also referred to our tier 1 MOU as a "stone-cold agreement" and how it's not a partnership agreement but "GiveIndia is dictating terms" in it. Again, I spoke to him about the bad experiences we've had (without naming any NGOs) and he kind of understood where we were coming from. Their COO Ranjeet was all praises for Valli and he also said that he's very open to Kiran being used for experimentation for any new funding models/activities that GiveIndia comes up with - he understands that we need to be experimental too.

Before I sign off, I would just like to say that this was one tough journey. It was around 40 degrees everywhere ( barring one day in Kanpur when it rained), the road distances were long and the roads just terrible. The potholes in UP give competition to the craters on the moon! But what was the worst was that there was hardly any electricity (to the point that even invertors went off). Shramik Bharti shared with me that they had spent Rs. 40,000 on diesel for their generator the past month! At most places where I was meeting beneficiaries, we sat in the shade but were fanning ourselves with my notepad and brochures from the NGO to keep flies away. It is also very scary when the electricity went out at both Mathura and Kanpur station - it got pitch dark and I was clutching onto my main bag for a good 10 minutes or so lest someone tried to flick it. I would have truly been stranded without money and my phone had that happened! Despite the pains, this was one memorable trip.

I came back yesterday to my 5 year old nephew asking me "Aap intne kaale kaise ho gaye" (why I have become so black?) But for the first time, I was truly glad to be back - to eat some fruit and salad ( versus the Samosas and Wadas I had been eating as that's all you get from roadside stalls as you go more rural) and to get my spectacles fixed! 

And lastly, if you enjoyed reading the above and would like to experience the same, do accompany me on a visit or 2. There are no more NGOs to visit in Maharashtra, which means you would need to be prepared to travel a bit. Am headed to Tamil Nadu post-Diwali so folks in Bangalore/Chennai do consider the offer :-)

#GivingMatters at Abbott Healthcare


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Abbott Healthcare is one of the top Healthcare companies in India with market leadership and strong distribution network. This month we found out how the organisation excels in engaging its employees through the various CSR initiatives.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Sulaksha Shetty, HR Business Partner. Sulaksha has 13+ years of rich experience in HR.

Q1. What is your role and for how long have you been with the organisation?

Sulaksha: I have been associated with Abbott Healthcare for 2 years now and currently I am the HR Business Partner organising Support functions and a few Commercial functions at Abbott Healthcare Solutions.

Q2. What was the idea behind giving at Abbott and what platforms have you adopted to ensure a Giving culture?

Sulaksha: As a Healthcare company, our mission has been to turn science into caring. Caring is also one of our core values which we all practice in our daily work life. We encourage employees to volunteer and as an organisation participate during the Joy of Giving Week. Joy of Giving Week, now known as ‘Daan Utsav’, has proved to be a strong platform to reinforce the Giving Culture in the organisation. It’s an event managed totally by our employees and has seen good traction and participation in the company. The enthusiasm and pride which employees experience through Giving is visible during the JGW. We have employees participating for various causes like blood donation, Mid-day meal scheme, NGO Mela and monetary donations. Another employee giving initiative that we started 5 years back was to partner with GiveIndia for the Payroll Giving Program. GiveIndia created awareness through the Payroll Giving Program and many employees are keen to enrol for the program.

Q3. Speaking of Payroll Giving, to date over 100+ employees from Abbott have chosen to contribute towards the program. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?

Sulaksha: The online interface provided by GiveIndia ensures ease of access, thus enabling employees to reach out to various institutions for extending financial assistance for causes close to their heart.
The Payroll Giving program complemented with an engaging online portal is a powerful tool to engage employees who are keen to participate in socially engaging activities but who may not find time given their work and personal commitment. Our employees find the portal informative and easy to manage.
Employees have been sharing their experiences with us. Be it supporting education for underprivileged children or providing financial support to charitable institutions providing shelter to needy, the experience of reaching out to the destitute on a sustained basis has been source of great satisfaction to our employees.

Q4. Given that employees at any pharmaceutical company are largely preoccupied with research and sales, how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged at CSR initiatives?

Sulaksha: At Abbott we see an equal involvement of employees and senior leadership towards ‘Giving’. This is evident from the growing participation from our employees on various initiatives such as Payroll Giving, Joy of Giving Week or Mumbai Marathon that we participate in. It's their passion and commitment towards Giving which has helped us not just sustain these initiatives over years but also take them to the next level.
For instance, while we would celebrate Joy of Giving Week and support multiple NGO, last Christmas our employees suggested that we could celebrate Christmas and thank the housekeeping personnel. The idea came in from employees and was worked out by them and was a huge success.

Q5. Lastly, what lies in the future for Giving at Abbott?

Sulaksha: We see us taking our existing Giving programs to the next level. In fact this year we are planning to expand footprints for Payroll Giving Program and reach out to our new employees with this proposition during their induction.