Sunday, November 2, 2008

Volunteerism: Corporate initiative

IT professionals in corporate Bangalore have taken to vounteering in varied ways. In an earlier post I referred to a group of 30 from HCL spending Diwali with children at an orphanage. More recently, nearly 60 Mphasis employees with brush in hand painted the premises of the National Association of the Blind, as part of the company's Global Volunteer Day. Mphasis volunteers were there last October as well, when they painted a class-room.

EDS, a multinational that has taken over Mphasis, has a tradition of observing in its units worldwide Global Volunteer Day in October. EDS is now part of HP.The company website says Volunteerism has many business benefits, such as corporate awareness, improved employee morale, better teamwork skills and increased opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Projects the company takes up are diverse - building ponds and planting flower beds, preparing and serving meals to pouring foundations and painting fences. EDS website provides guidelines to other multinationals wanting to start volunteer programmes.

Survey employees in different areas for holiday schedules. Consider allowing a window of time for the event, such as two weeks or a month, to accommodate worldwide schedules.

Communicate the event via company newspapers, electronic mail, bulletin boards, leader communication, direct mail, voice mail messages, speeches at group meetings, pre-event posters.

EDS provides on request information kit on how to recruit volunteers, choose a project and a recipient organization, report results and give feedback, recognize volunteers, and talk to the press.

According to Anand Parthasarathy of The Hindu, almost every international IT player in Bangalore has a volunteer programme going in the city. Dell runs a learning centre for destitute kids with Parikrama;funds a HIV rehab centre. AMD promotes what it calls '50 by 15' project - Internet access to 50 percent population anywhere by 2015. Intel is into training school teachers in imparting IT skills to their class.

Of the Indian companies big ones such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS have put their money into many worthy causes, says Mr Parthasarathy. This could not be said about the numerous small and medium enterprises that owe their name and fame to what Bangalore offers by way of human and other resources. His quesion is:

When did you last stumble on an initiative by these small guys that helped changed life for the better albeit in a tiny way for the less advantaged ?

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