Community involvement is an integral part of the social pillar in our strategic Sustainability framework (see in this section). The requirement to engage with local communities is also embedded in our HSE standards and is part of our auditing cycles. Our main societal contributions fall into three areas:
There is a growing trend towards combining business strategic drivers with societal contributions. Strategic drivers include: license to operate, employee development, company and product branding and market growth through increased prosperity in society.
Our Community Program encourages sites and individuals to take part in projects where our products/resources and the skills and knowledge of employees can benefit the wider community. In the past seven years, this has led to a variety of projects, from educating underprivileged youngsters to creating more awareness about the importance of a clean environment. It also provides opportunities for employees to develop team-building and leadership skills.
Since the start of the program in 2005, more than 9,000 volunteers from 50 countries have worked on around 2,000 projects, representing approximately €13 million of investment. Our sites initiate over 250 projects each year, with little variation in the regional spread. Nearly 70 percent of projects have supported educational/employability and healthcare/well-being activities, with environmental and housing projects also well represented. The economic slowdown has prompted more focus on projects benefiting deprived, socially disadvantaged groups. For example, involvement in the set up and running of soup kitchens, shelters and daycare centers for the homeless and vocational training for unemployed youngsters and women are taking place on a continuous basis in various parts of the world.
The fund is also available to support post-relief efforts for major disasters in countries where we operate, as long as there is hands-on involvement by our employees. For example, in 2012, almost 50 percent of the workforce in Adria, Italy, helped restore a hospital for disabled elderly and Alzheimer patients in Emilia Romagna, which was severely hit by a major earthquake. Other post-relief aid actions took place in Thailand, which experienced its worst floods in 50 years. Our employees teamed up to help children resume their education as soon as possible by cleaning, repairing and renovating a school. Meanwhile, in the US, relief aid was provided after a tornado hit the Mid-West.
In 2012, 253 new projects were initiated, while almost 3,000 employees voted for their favorite entries in our annual Community Program Best Practice contest. First prize went to employees at Marine and Protective Coatings in Seoul, South Korea, and their “Dream-helpers make dreams of disabled children come true” project. Our volunteers helped set up a one-on-one buddy system for 30 disabled children at the Hanwoori Community Welfare Center.
Cumulative Community Program involvement
The Education Fund was created at the end of 1994 in order to make a contribution to the education of children in developing countries. Since being launched, it has changed the lives of tens of thousands of young people by supporting projects ranging from school renovation in Burkina Faso, to improving sanitation and hygiene conditions at schools in Vietnam, and improving the capabilities of primary school teachers in Brazil.
Several thousand children aged three to 16 have directly benefited from quality pre-school and primary education provided by the Education Fund.
A special fundraising campaign staged in 2011 raised around €140,000, providing around 500 young people, mainly girls, in Vietnam, India and Brazil with vocational training opportunities. In 2012, our support continued to focus on vocational training to help deprived young people find decent and safe employment which offers them long-term prospects.