Employee volunteerism deepens CSR engagement - Infosys interview
Interview with Aruna C. Newton, Associate Vice President and Head – Global Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability Reporting and Governance, Infosys
How important is employee engagement for your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives?
A corporation has an important role to play, beyond just monetary contributions. We must bear the responsibility for shaping the minds and actions of a larger civil society, after all its members are represented inside our very own organisations. A ‘responsible citizen’ is the best gift we can give to society, to build a better world. Therefore, it is imperative that organisations lead by example by adopting CSR initiatives that create and nurture a culture of caring and participation amongst employees.
In turn, for these initiatives to bear results, it becomes critical for employees to play the role of positive influencers in the larger community. Engagement in social and environmental programmes also enhances leadership competencies by building influence, networking capabilities and managing matrixed environments. Employee volunteer programmes are fundamental platforms provided by organisations to help employees grow beyond the comfort zone of their work environment.
What do you look for when partnering with non-profit organisations?
Firstly, we look at the non-profit’s track record in the sector, that they operate in. We then examine the extent to which they are engaged with their local contexts and the credibility they have with communities who are the beneficiaries of their support. Thirdly, we study the projects undertaken by these potential partners and whether they can demonstrate that they have achieved the defined objectives. Of course, their areas of work, must be aligned with something we are interested in.
For example, the note book drive is one of Infosys’ largest employee volunteering programmes, here we have partnered with various non-profit organisations across India to reach out to remote areas and support government school children with supplies of notebooks, schoolbags and stationery. So by partnering with organisations like the Sri Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), we were able to provide 8000 children in the tribal villages of HD Kote near Mysore with science learning aids and notebooks, year after year. SVYM’s work in this area gave us the means to reach out to these children and our volunteers are now also working to support the administration and logistics of the programme.
How do you mobilise resources and measure the true impact of all these programmes?
We work primarily with employee volunteer contributions, as well as support from the executive council and heads of local development centers across locations. Depending on the project, sometimes the funding is also supplemented by the Infosys Foundation. These are mainly programs where the Foundation sees alignment with their focus areas.
We measure impact of our programmes in different ways. So if you see at the education initiatives, we look at two levels; One, the number of children covered (across schools/states etc.) and two, the number of employees engaged in volunteering (beyond monetary contributions), liaising with the schools in their locality, planning procurement, transportation, distribution as well as interacting with actual recipients of the interventions.
You can read our sustainability reports on www.infosys.com for more information
Finally, how do you define sustainability and how has it been incorporated in the Infosys CSR agenda?
Sustainability encompasses the organisation’s progress on the larger economic, environmental and social goals set by it. All these form part of the organisational performance dashboard and is monitored at regular intervals. The larger Infosys CSR Agenda is driven by the Infosys Foundation and has a board level committee governing it. The employee CSR efforts are driven at the development center level and recognised through the Infosys Awards for Excellence – a very coveted recognition of their work.
About Aruna C. Newton
Infosys Limited has been listed as the 5th highest amongst the top 20 companies for CSR spend in the India CSR Outlook Report 2015.
As AVP, Aruna is also on the Executive Council at Infosys Bangalore Development Centre and is Founder Mentor of Green Connect, the Infosys environmental sustainability initiative powered by Infoscions.