Companies Add Human Capital to CSR, Boost Managerial Skills


MUMBAI:  It has reported that , time is money, the saying goes. When put into social good, it can actually be a good substitute to money. From merely writing cheques towards CSR activities to supplementing the non-profit sector with human capital – the time clocked by employees who volunteer for social causes – India Inc is addressing a critical issue which every non-profit organization (NPO) faces: dearth of managerial talent.

There is a growing realization among organizations that it is not merely sufficient to provide funds to support causes initiated by non-profits. And when employees volunteer for a cause, it’s a win-win for both the organization and the employee as it helps improve managerial skills.

Many organizations compute the number of man-hours their employees put into social causes. At Ernst & Young (E&Y), about 600 employees have either sponsored or are sponsoring the education of a deserving student.

While at Deutsche Bank, more than 1,000 employees have clocked more than 10,000 man hours of volunteering work in 2011, Hindustan Unilever clocked 45,000 hours.

“At Ernst & Young, we help our people to make a difference by providing them opportunities for contributing their professional skills as also financial and other resources. Employees assist NPOs and charitable educational institutions in various aspects of management, operations and finance; mentor deserving students from financially weak backgrounds, including domestic helps; teach English and general knowledge at schools for the underprivileged,” said Sandeep Kohli, national HR director, E&Y, where volunteering has picked up substantially in the last five years.

E&Y also has a programme called ‘My NGO initiative’, where employees can generate funds and resources for an NGO of their choice and the organization makes a matching contribution. Deutsche Bank India, on the other hand, has the ‘Initiative Plus’ programme, wherein an employee who gives at least four hours of his or her leisure time to an NPO in a programme or activity that meets the approval criteria will receive a grant of 200 euros – the amount can go up to 3,000 euros for a group of at least 15 or more employees.

Other companies like HUL allow employees to contribute company time to such initiatives in addition their leisure time. “We understood that volunteering and employee engagement was the means for democratization of our CSR activities – for it to become an initiative which was co-created and owned by the employees,” said Shrinath Bolloju, COO, Deutsche Bank India.

There are organizations such as ToolBox, Atma, iVolunteer that have been creating platforms through which individuals can volunteer time with NPOs of their choice. Over the last 18 months, ToolBox, co-founded by Charles-Antoine Janssen (Board member, UCB SA), and Sandeep Naik, co-head, Apax Partners India, has spurred volunteering among employees by engaging individuals from various corporate entities in executing projects by using their time, skills and expertise in meaningful ways. The volunteers offer at least two hours of their time every week on a pro-bono basis. Their areas of expertise range from strategy and consulting to accounting and tax, human resources management, information technology, branding and marketing and fund raising.

Bharucha and Partners, for instance, extends support by volunteering with ToolBox’s non-profit partners on a pro bono basis in matters pertaining to governance, compliance as well as Indian Law.

The idea of ToolBox India really materialized when two years back, a particular NPO hit the wall when served with a legal notice. Help came from a senior legal counsel at one of the top legal firms. He offered his legal skills free to get the NGO out of a sticky situation. “What would have been a terminal crisis for the NGO was resolved by this lawyer by spending one-and-a-half hours on a Sunday responding to the notice. Unlike corporates, it is usually a struggle for non-profits to access the right skill sets needed to effectively scale up their organizations,” said Naik of ToolBox India. Naik is understood to have recently put in his papers at Apax Partners India to join General Atlantic Partners.

What companies have also realized is volunteering for social causes adds a different perspective to an individual’s development and enriches experiences in the areas of project management, teamwork and leadership. “This is a win-win situation and the learnings are two-way,” Naik said. “The non-profits learn immensely by getting the professional volunteers to plug and play for-profit processes into their organizations to make them more productive. In return, the professional volunteers learn how to manage in a resource-constrained, crisis environment that non-profits operate in.”

Bolloju of Deutsche Bank agrees: “The activity of volunteering has brought many more advantages to us – it has fostered a greater sense of responsibility among our staff, a sense of goodwill towards the employer, a more motivated and team oriented culture – all meeting our employee engagement objectives.”

(Sourced from Times of India)

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