Freudenberg Group: Managing Talent through Corporate Social Responsibility

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IndiaCSR News Network

BANGALORE: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) manifests itself in the form of noble programs initiated by for-profit organizations. In a world where markets shift constantly and customers’ preferences become more unpredictable and complex, adopting a CSR strategy could be a powerful tool for survival.

The Freudenberg Group, which has been in existence in India for about almost 100 years and consists of 14 entities all across the country, considers its corporate social responsibility as the true effort to earn the trust and respect of stakeholders and society. With around 3,500 associates employed at more than 30 facilities in India, the Freudenberg Group has a long-term commitment to the Indian market and society.

CSR has become increasingly prominent in the Indian corporate scenario because organizations have realized that besides growing their businesses it is also vital to build trustworthy and sustainable relationships with the community at large. That’s why the government implemented mandatory two per cent of net profit on CSR spend and India has become the only country in the world with legislated corporate social responsibility.

The Freudenberg Group considers employees and local communities to be key stakeholders and takes responsibility as a good neighbor wherever it holds full management control. This positive focus has been embedded in the way Freudenberg works for decades.

A Building Block of Development at Nagapattinam

Immediately after the tsunami disaster of 2004, Freudenberg started a major initiative by identifying opportunities for providing aid and an appropriate location. Finally, the area around the city of Nagapattinam in Southern India, one of the hardest-hit regions, was selected. There, the Freudenberg Group is providing sustained support in the form of an Industrial Training Center under various trades like welders, machinists, motor vehicle mechanics and fitters. The special feature is that the young people receive both theoretical and practical training in line with the German dual vocational education system for a period of one or two years based on the course one opts. Following the completion of their course, the trainees have good prospects in the labor market. The Freudenberg Training Center is well-established and highly respected by companies in the region. 90 percent of the trainees find employment immediately after the completion of their course. The training center has shaped a career of about 350 young people from the region.

Good Neighbor
Close to the Freudenberg site in Mysore the Bandipur National Park, an area of 874 square kilometers, is home to an estimated 100 tigers living in their natural habitat. Tigers are one of the most endangered species on earth. Freudenberg employees have committed themselves to the preservation of this rare animal and support the forest rangers in the vital area of fire protection.

Freudenberg employees also organize help for people in need. Teams of associates in Pune spend a free day during Diwali, working for an NGO such as an orphanage, a nursing home or a school for HIV positive children. All around the world, Freudenberg assumes social responsibility – especially for environmental protection and educational prospects for children and young people.

A Journey to the Best Talents
Education is also key for Freudenberg as an employer. A few years ago, the company started its FIELD (Freudenberg India Entrepreneurial Leadership Development) program. The intention of FIELD is to train and develop Freudenberg’s future managers in the areas of sales, operations and finance.

The participants of the program are mainly recruited from the Indian Institutes of Management in Bangalore and Kozhikode, Indian School of Business and the National Institute of Industrial Engineering. The program starts with cross-functional training lasting six to nine months in one or two Freudenberg companies in India. This is followed by the opportunity of doing project work for twelve to eighteen months in other Group companies within India, Europe, and other countries of Asia or the USA.

Upon completion of this stint, participants take on their first job responsibilities. Freudenberg offers its graduates a global perspective from the beginning of their career and the opportunity to take on management positions.

The Freudenberg Group also embarked on a journey of Talent Management and created opportunities for exchange of high potential employees between Business Groups by holding Talent Dialogues across the globe – in Germany, China, North and South America and India. The goal is to identify the top talents within the regions and open up opportunities for them to develop and apply their talent and skills. Besides, such an exercise also develops great focus among people leaders with regard to potential competencies and developmental needs of their team members.

The Freudenberg Group is a family company offering its customers technically challenging product solutions and services. The Group develops and manufactures seals, vibration control components, filters, nonwovens, products for surface treatment, release agents and specialty lubricants, medical and mechatronic products. Especially for mid-size companies Freudenberg develops software solutions and IT services.

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