Giving Matters at Thermax

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Talk about corporate giving culture and one of the first instances that come to mind is giving at Thermax. A mid sized engineering company, Thermax has always been ahead of its times in ensuring a close integration of social responsibility into its corporate culture, be it within its internal workforce or among external stakeholders.
We were fortunate to know more on this culture from Mrs. Meher Pudumjee, Chairperson, Thermax. Being one of the primary custodians of the Thermax group, Meher shares with us what defines giving at the organizations, employee giving, the Foundation, and more !

GiveIndia : What defines the idea of giving back at Thermax? 
Meher : At Thermax, we believe that business cannot survive in a society that fails. It is the responsibility of those who are in a relatively better position, to help those who are in need and haven't got the opportunity only because of their circumstances. This "giving back" could be in terms of money or time. The return on this kind of investment is beyond words - it is deeply satisfying.

GiveIndia :You are an engineering company. Given that blue collar employees make up a part of the workforce, how easy or difficult of a challenge do you think it becomes for CSR to be all inclusive across employee profiles? 
Meher : We are an engineering company and our blue collar employees are less than our white collared ones. Having said that, I do not think numbers define the culture and attitude. I would like to give an example of our own workforce. When our Workers Union decided to visit one of the schools we run along with the Municipal Corporation and Akanksha, as a part of our CSR initiative, they raised a contribution from all the workers and donated Rs.50,000/- to set up the library for the school. This reflects the culture our people have imbibed over the years.

GiveIndia : Are there any specific 'must do' activities that you encourage every year ? 
Meher : There is nothing like "must do" - we only encourage our employees to volunteer, to part with some of their salary towards good causes. We offer different opportunities for them and their families to participate with our partner NGOs; however, it is purely voluntary.
GiveIndia : Speaking of Payroll Giving at Thermax, 1500+ employees have already contributed towards the programme. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of engagement activities at Thermax? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?
Meher :  I feel the Payroll Giving programme is an excellent initiative. Given the nature of our work, many of our employees have to travel and yet they would want to participate and contribute for the betterment of the society, but due to their schedules and time constraint, they are unable to do so. Hence, the Payroll giving programme
provides them an alternative to contributing towards a cause of their own choice and seeing the progress (impact) over time. 

GiveIndia :Thermax has been participating in the India Giving Challenge every year since the past three years now. Last year, you raised Rs. 7 lacs for The Akanksha Foundation and also won in individual fundraising categories. What, in your opinion, generally works or doesn't work during those six weeks of fundraising? 
Meher : As mentioned earlier because of the very tight work schedule, some employees do not get time or the opportunity to participate; however, during the India Giving Challenge, being a one off event each year, wherein money is raised for a particular cause, gets people far more interested. They are also bombarded with frequent e-mails, which I guess helps.

GiveIndia : Last but not the least, what is future of giving at Thermax? 
Meher : We, at Thermax, believed in giving for social causes and even when CSR was not mandatory, gave 2% of the profit to our Foundation. Last year our Board decided to make the CSR contribution to 3% and extend our activities in our defined area. Along with financial contribution we hope to involve more of our employees in various social initiatives that we undertake.

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