February 1, 2016
Tesco Bengaluru is the operations and technology centre for Tesco worldwide.They build world class technology products and platforms, design stores and manage Finance and Retail Operations. Aniisu K Verghese, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications & CSR at Tesco Bengaluru spoke to us about how they build community engagement through employee volunteering.
1. What are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?
Corporate Social Responsibility at Tesco Bengaluru is a commitment made at all levels of the organisation. We believe that what we stand for and invest in building a sustainable business for the future, one that is positive for customers, stakeholders, as well as the community we are embedded in. Employees are passionate about supporting the community and causes close to their hearts through fundraising efforts and volunteering.
Community is at the heart of what we do. Our Community initiatives are focused around health and fitness (Youth4Ever), environment protection (Care4Nature) and empowerment through skills building (Skills4Life.)
2. What have been some of the greatest challenges in realising your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year? How has your company overcome them?
We realized that for change to be sustainable, it cannot be achieved single-handedly. It requires collaboration. Our model of working with communities and citizen groups has helped us stay on track. At Tesco Bengaluru, we undertook a unique month long campaign called ‘CSR Month’. Through this we looked to break some myths and make ‘volunteering fun, fulfilling, and for everyone’. This was done by facilitating a range of volunteering/giving opportunities like planting trees, painting schools, scribing for differently-abled, organising sports day at schools, pledging eyes, and cooking, dancing and singing to raise funds, there was something for everyone. We also engaged colleagues through interesting modes like flash mobs, hand-painting and a community pledge wall, contests to create art from waste and a fun carnival.
Further, a live scoreboard clocking volunteering hours made it competitive and real-time. Recognition for those who went the extra mile was an important element too. As a result, CSR Month significantly increased the levels of awareness and led to immense increase in the interest towards CSR activities, with a post-campaign survey also receiving positive feedback. We also completed 49% of our volunteering target for the year in just this one focused month.
3. Keeping in mind the targets set in the Paris accord what do you see on the horizon for corporate sustainability initiatives?
The Paris agreement establishes a clear goal, to curb greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. It is a collective responsibility for corporates, companies, investors and other stakeholders to commit to work with government to usher in this new low carbon era.
We at Tesco Bengaluru are serious about minimizing our carbon footprint and have undertaken several initiatives on campus to help this. These include rainwater harvesting, bio-composting, using solar energy and in November last year, we became the first corporate to partner with Lithium Urban Technologies to adopt an eco-friend ly transportation mode for employees.
We are hopeful that the Paris accord will set a good precedent for more and more companies to extend the scope of their CSR initiatives to generate a positive impact on the environment.
4. How can companies and government work together to achieve sustainability and CSR goals?
As the first country to legally mandate CSR in the form of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, it is now being recognised as core to business strategy. Companies are looking for innovative ways to effectively utilize funds allocated for CSR purposes 2% profits for CSR activities.
An effective approach to CSR would be to integrate sustainable business with societal giving, rather than simply requiring companies to donate money and outsource all of its CSR efforts.
It is important for companies and the government to complement one another. Only then will they be able to foster and promote responsible business practices and thus achieve sustainability, growth and CSR goals.
The potential lies in harnessing the particular strengths of a company to integrate sustainable business with societal giving, rather than simply requiring the company to donate money and outsource all of its CSR efforts.
Sustainability efforts at Tesco Bengaluru aim at collaboration and creating a wider ecosystem involving colleagues, corporates, NGOs and government bodies which we have realized is most important in order to be impactful.
5. What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?
Continuing the streams of work we have been involved in 2015 – making an impact through colleague volunteering, supporting our adopted schools and continuing our afforestation drives.
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