Nayna Banerjee, Leader- CSR and Corporate Communications of Dun and Bradstreet speaks to India CSR Network on how how Individual social responsibility should be the mantra for social development and her organisation interventions. Excerpts:
Give us an overview on Dun and Bradstreet India’s CSR efforts
At Dun & Bradstreet, responsibility is deeply embedded in our values and we empower every employee to meaningfully contribute towards the country’s social and economic development, which in the long run, will result in sustainable communities.
The three pillars of corporate social responsibility at Dun & Bradstreet India are – Healthcare, Education and Volunteering.
For healthcare, our main area of focus is cancer treatment and we have had partnered with two organizations – V-Care Foundation and JASCAP to facilitate cancer treatment of young adults and palliative care respectively. When it comes to education, we firmly believe that it’s the foundation for any development. We have partnered with organisations to have intervention programs supporting education right from the initial stages to higher education.
We are supporting “School on Wheels” program with “The Door Step School”, where a bus is converted into a class room for children with no access to formal education. With Masoom (night school) we support and work with children from Grade VII onwards. We have also partnered with “Tata Institute of Social Sciences” for the “Saksham” Scholarship Program, where we have given out more than 50 scholarships to women for Bachelor’s degree or higher level education.
At the heart of every small difference that we make, are our employees. We believe that engaging our employees with the local communities is important and hence volunteering is critical. Right from celebrating our global CSR initiative “Do Good Week”, to organizing donation drives, mentoring children, and engaging with them through life skills workshops, we ensure that our employees have a wide range of choices through which they can share their knowledge to make an impact.
What is the impact Dun and Bradstreet India has witnessed so far?
In the last two years of our deep focus on education. Through our partnership with Door Step School’s “School on Wheels” program, we have supported 100 plus children. Of these, 20 from Non-formal education (NFE) and 2 from Baalvadi have been enrolled in formal schooling. 8 students have been enrolled with NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) and they will be absorbed into mainstream schooling in FY 2020.
We have partnered with Tata Institute of Social Sciences for the “Dun & Bradstreet Saksham Scholarship Program” for Bachelor’s degree programs and higher studies. As part of this, post a rigorous selection process, we have granted 51 scholarships to deserving women students PAN India, and we are deeply excited to witness their progress.
We have also partnered with Isha Vidhya in building school libraries and computer labs for various schools in rural Tamil Nadu. Overall, through our focus on education alone, we succeeded in impacting nearly 1,500 students!
What are the employee learnings from these CSR engagement programs? What sets your company apart when it comes to CSR engagement?
We don’t view corporate social responsibility as an additional dimension in the organization but one that is imperative to every employee’s personal and professional growth. Thus, we empower our employees to bring corporate citizenship and social responsibility into every aspect of our company and over the years, we have witnessed how this has had a transformational impact on employees’ performances and relations. Employees who involve themselves in volunteering have themselves noticed an improvement in soft skills such as better team work, empathy, creativity and leadership; all of which go a long way in adding to their overall performance. Further, there is an improved commitment towards the organization as well fostering a greater sense of identity of the workplace.
Why is education a focus for Dun and Bradstreet India? How do you see the education landscape, what are the bottlenecks?
Education as a broader theme was our employees’ choice made few years ago, through a survey we called as “Manifestation of Dreams”. We believe that education is the foundation which drives the growth of an individual, and the society in general. There are several Government schemes running across the country to address the issues. However, the need of private and public partnership is of paramount importance towards making India a fully literate country.
Lack of support, infrastructure, and availability of resources are some of the challenges. We have partnered with different NGOs to be able to work towards the cause starting from early pre-school intervention to middle school, and high school to Graduation and Post-Graduation level. We also work with children with visual impairment and other disabilities and on imparting vocational training facilities.
How are Dun and Bradstreet India’s employees bridging these bottlenecks?
A successful employee volunteering program requires the right partnerships, accessibility and most importantly highly motivated employees. With formal day off options for volunteering work, our employees are constantly focused on one thing – Doing Good!
They mentor the students, spend time with them, teach them life lessons, and most importantly always stay connected with the beneficiaries of our programs. The programs we run are just not CSR programs. It’s much more, as it gives a sense of purpose to our employees’ and lets them experience and thrive in it.
Can you highlight 1-2 case studies?
We have two case studies from our Saksham Scholarship Program.
Nikita Abrol comes from the valley of Jammu & Kashmir and is currently pursuing her graduation in Mumbai under the Dun and Bradstreet Saksham Scholarship scheme. Her father is a labourer and despite the low family income and the hand-to-mouth situation, her father has always given his best to educate Nitika so that she can be independent. Now, with the Dun & Bradstreet Saksham Scholarship, she hopes to complete her graduation successfully and achieve her and her family’s dreams.
Aishwariya is in Grade IX and is smart and intelligent. She is determined to become an IAS officer. Aishwariya lives with her family in Mumbai. Her father works in a warehouse on daily wages and her mother works as a house maid in several houses to supplement her husband’s income. Aishwariya was enrolled in Masoom (night school), wherein her family did not have to pay for her school fees and the school also provided nutritional supplements to their children.
Dun & Bradstreet presented an opportunity at the school to attend SpeakWell sessions for the English language improvement. Aishwariya regularly attended the SpeakWell course and scored a whopping 98% marks from the earlier 68% baseline marks before her exams. Aishwariya can now write and converse more fluently in English. She even presented a speech at a Christmas celebration organised by D&B earlier in 2018.
Yashoda, a resident from the small town of Gadag in Karnataka is pursuing her BBA-LLB in Bangalore under the Dun and Bradstreet Saksham Scholarship. Her course is partly funded by an education loan and this scholarship will be of immense help in paying the remaining amount of her college fees, ensuring she doesn’t have to drop out or stress about financial obligations. Instead, she can focus on completing her course and achieving her goals.
What are the plans for the next 24-36 months?
We believe in order to have any impacts in CSR, commitments must be long term. Likewise, all our commitments are for long term. In the next 2 years we intend to continue to support the programs that we are partnering with.