Companies covered

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) | Hero MotoCorp | ICICI Lombard | IndiGo | Microsoft | NetApp | PwC | SAP

For CSR, there’s no dearth of causes or the kind of forms that it can take. The most popular (and hands-off) approach remains the outsourcing of actual implementation to partner NGOs which, considering the lack of expertise or interest that most corporates have for social issues, makes sense. However, of late, a growing trend seems to be that of employee volunteering, which is exactly what it sounds like – employees pitching in their time, money and actual effort for a cause. This often involves various activities to give back to the community, with companies providing time, logistics and money.

While usually sporadic and not frequent, the appetite for companies and employees alike to put their money (and time) where their mouth is has been increasing, judging by the number of companies who have such volunteering programmes in place. A select few are even giving paid time-off for a few days to encourage employees to walk the CSR talk. Volunteer time off (VTO) is when companies provide a certain number of hours or days per year for employees to volunteer in the community. This is independent from the company-sponsored volunteer events; however, one will not be surprised if some companies decide to blur the lines when it comes to defining its VTO definition.

Why employee volunteering?
Such employer-supported volunteerism (ESV) is said to improve skill development (teamwork, planning, leadership, etc), morale, motivation, job satisfaction, attitude towards employer, and even good health for employees. For employers, it means earning a reputation of being socially conscionable and, hence, deserving of the patronage of consumers and talented employees alike. This means increased loyalty, better PR, and often higher sales and share price. And ESV is one of the better and meaningful versions of employee-engagement activities.

Volunteering activities may take the form of one-off events where employees visit NGOs for a day or host them in the office premises, training and teaching sessions, mentoring and awareness sessions, monthly visits to programme sites, tree planting/cleanliness drives, walkathons, relief work, etc. While monetary contribution and donation drives (food, books, etc.) shouldn’t count as volunteering activities, often companies club them under this broad bucket to jazz up the CSR content on their websites and annual reports.

A 2012 Harvard paper compared a matched sample of 180 companies, 90 of which were classified as high-sustainability firms and 90 as low sustainability. Findings for an 18-year period showed that, in the long term, the former outperformed the latter in terms of both stock market and accounting measures. High-sustainability companies were defined as those who placed much importance on stakeholders such as employees, customers, NGOs and civil society. As per a 2014 CECP ‘Giving in Numbers’ report, 59 per cent of the 261 world’s leading companies (62 were in the Fortune 100 list) provided paid-time off to employee volunteers in 2013. Half of those companies also provided pro bono (free) service towards social causes.

The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that millennials expected businesses to do more than simply work for financial gains. Businesses that engage in social issues are more likely to gain their trust and loyalty. Millennials consider themselves to be accountable, to an extent, for many of the world’s biggest challenges – for example, 59 per cent believe they have a responsibility to protect the environment. Another report, called Snapshot 2014: A Rising Tide of Expectations – Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Social Impact, found that employees expected their companies to match their monetary contributions and support volunteerism.

While common in the legal profession, pro bono (or skill-based volunteering, as it’s called in CSR-speak) activities are becoming increasingly popular. This was reflected in the aforementioned 2014 CEP report and a 2015 LinkedIn survey that showed that 79 per cent of its members preferred skills-based volunteering. This is expected considering it provides opportunities for employees to deploy their skills in unique, meaningful ways, and gives NGOs free access to their valuable skills that can help their beneficiaries. However, in such cases, figuring out how and where to use these skills and designing suitable activities to meet the objectives of the intervention become even more critical. Examples include tech companies hosting computer-skills workshops, bankers conducting financial-literacy sessions, and lawyers helping poor families with legal counsel.

Employee volunteering in corporate India
In India, though, ESV is yet to take off on a massive scale. Employee volunteering usually entails providing services (interacting with children, mentoring sessions, distributing food and gifts, etc.) through NGO partners, with activities dependent on convenience rather than impact. More often than not, it’s limited to payroll giving by employees and the one-off volunteering event.

Here we take a look at some companies who are investing in ESV.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has two flagship volunteering programmes – PULSE and Orange Days. The PULSE Volunteer Partnership provides a skills-based volunteering opportunity where eligible employees are matched with a non-profit organisation for three or six months full-time. Since 2009, more than 60 employees have participated in national and international volunteering projects. PULSE volunteers’ work supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically good health and quality education.

The Orange Day programme gives all employees one paid day off each year for their chosen causes and local communities, through participating in GSK’s CSR projects. Most employees take up volunteering activities in teams, such as cleaning up community parks, mentoring students, etc. Employees are also given the opportunity to volunteer part-time in a skills-based project (8 to 60 hours per year). All volunteering work is paid time-off for participants. The company has partnered with Give India for its payroll giving programme.

PULSE projects are aligned with GSK’s CSR initiatives, with international assignments sourced from PULSE partners. If there’s a skills fit, employees are matched to that assignment. In locations where the company does not have CSR projects, employees choose a cause and an NGO to volunteer their time with.

In terms of feedback, 96 per cent of participants strongly believed that they made a true difference to the community through Orange Day; and 98 per cent of NGO partners were of the opinion that PULSE volunteers met or exceeded expectations.

A study on the impact of volunteering initiatives was conducted among employees: 79 per cent of employees stated that their likelihood of staying with GSK had increased, 90 per cent said they had developed leadership skills, and 79 per cent said it helped them make a positive business impact. This is reflected in this statement by Garima Dutt, CSR lead, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Limited: ‘We believe that our volunteering offerings not only create sustainable change in NGOs but also benefits GSK through increased employee engagement and equips our people with fresh perspectives to foster innovation within the company.’

Hero MotoCorp
At Hero MotoCorp, as CSR got embedded into the main policy and became the way of doing business for the company, volunteering became an essential part of each employee’s key responsibility areas. As a policy, employees can volunteer for four days on his/her will (and more with prior approval) for activities addressing social causes –road safety, education, sanitation, women empowerment, tree planting and rural development – that the company focuses on through its CSR programmes.

Employees simply need to log in to the company’s intranet and register as a volunteer. While registering, they get to choose the various causes that they are interested in and the number of hours they will volunteer, and also spell out how they may add value through their talent, skills and knowledge. Once registered, they start getting updates from the CSR department on the ongoing activities that are being carried out either by partner non-profits or directly by the CSR team.

Over 200 employees are constantly active in the volunteering space and engage in one or the other social activity across the company’s five plant locations, R&D centre, various offices and over two dozen CSR project sites.

Vijay Sethi, who is chief information officer at Hero MotoCorp and also heads human resource and CSR – the two key portfolios that drive volunteering in the organisation, says, ‘Over the years I have realized that volunteering not only helps employees in doing their bit for the society, it also makes them really see and understand the socially conscious side of the company. And once they understand the humanitarian work that their company does, their respect for the brand grows manifold and it reflects in their professional output.

‘At Hero MotoCorp, we have also seen that those employees who often engage in social volunteering perform better and are overall a happier and content lot. I am glad that in the last few years, as our CSR investments increased, the number of volunteers as well as the hours contributed by them have increased too.’

Apart from engaging in CSR programmes, employees at Hero MotoCorp also volunteer for an initiative called Hero Impact League, wherein through a mobile app each employee counts the miles covered through walking or running. The company contributes Rs 10 for each mile covered towards a charity. Last year the volunteers managed to collect nearly Rs 40 lakh. The app is also encouraging team efforts in volunteering as employees themselves have created teams to encourage each other to walk and run more. The company awards the top performing teams from across plant locations at a special ceremony held in their New Delhi office.

ICICI Lombard
ICICI Lombard’s employee-volunteering initiatives are in the areas of preventive healthcare, road safety and disaster support. Its Caring Hands programme is a once-in-a-year activity.

In 2011, the scope of the CSR mandate was expanded so that employees could participate directly for such causes. For example, in healthcare, initiatives involved setting up health check-up camps for students at municipal schools by volunteering teams at various locations. The objective was to motivate students and raise awareness on important health issues and practices. It also helped employees to hone their leadership skills as they had to execute the entire project.

Subsequently, the programme emphasised solely on preventive eye care. Students (from poor families) diagnosed with poor vision are provided with corrective-vision spectacles, thereby offering a concrete solution to their problem. As explained by Jerry Jose, head – human resources, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, ‘Given that children are our country’s future, it made a lot of sense to focus on this age group. We have built a sustainable activity wherein every year new children reaching the particular age band can be diagnosed and their issue of poor vision addressed.’

These eye check-up camps are planned over two months by employees and conducted across schools all over the country on a single day. Captains are nominated by the HR team from various offices and locations of ICICI Lombard, who then form and lead a team of employees. Each team is responsible for one eye check-up camp including:

  • Obtaining permission from schools to conduct the camp
  • Arranging ophthalmologists (eye specialists)/eye doctors
  • Collating and sharing the vision data as diagnosed
  • Placing order and collecting required spectacles
  • Handing over spectacles to the school authorities

The company provides guidelines to maintain consistency across branches and provides necessary support. The CSR committee, marketing and corporate communication teams, and HR ensure constant communication and coordination between branches. No external partners or NGOs are involved.

Over the past five years, the initiative has reached out to over 100,000 children across 100 cities in the country. Last year, it was conducted across 273 schools in nearly 104 cities. In all, 36,579 children went through eye check-up and 5,583 cases of poor vision were identified and corrective lenses provided free of cost. Over 3,000 employees participated in this programme. About 50 per cent of the company’s employees participate every year.

The company has no policy to provide paid time-off for such volunteering activities. Employees tend to organise this event over half a day depending on the school timings. ICICI Lombard has applied for Guinness Book of World Records for the category of ‘most eye screenings in a single venue’ and currently this is in the secondary stage of review.

Employee volunteering is an important part of IndiGoReach, the company’s CSR programme. It allows employees to participate in ongoing initiatives with the flexibility of choosing the date and time as per their convenience. This also includes a half-day CSR activity as part of all new joinees’ training. All projects include quarterly activities that are taken up in locations where the company operates. The iServe policy allows all employees to contribute three working days in a financial year towards CSR activities. Payroll giving and donations are other available options for employees to contribute to worthy causes.

Some of the employee activities include:

  1. Visits of delight: Employees visit old-age homes/orphanages to spend time with the elderly/children and distribute snacks and gifts.
  2. Knowledge-sharing session: Various teams organise knowledge-sharing sessions based on the requirements and their own skill sets. For instance, the HR team once organised a session on interview skills for college students at SOS Children’s village, Faridabad centre, while the grooming team conducted sessions on hygiene and basic grooming for young girls through various projects of IndiGoReach.
  3. IndiGo Mentorship Programme: Employees mentor children through the IndiGo Scholars initiative. This is the programme where the company supports the education of 100 high-IQ children.
  4. Recycling programme: This allows employees to donate their old uniforms, shoes and bags to IndiGo’s NGO partner NIDAN, who in turn train local women artisans to create upcycled products for sale and income enhancement.

All CSR projects are aligned with IndiGo’s CSR policy and their focus areas of education for children, women empowerment, 6E responsibility, and environment. NGO partners undergo a due-diligence process that includes primary and secondary research. The legal, finance and compliance teams, too, are involved in the process of shortlisting partner organisations. Employee inputs are sought on the ongoing projects as well as new ones that can be taken up. The company’s internal teams are involved in designing and implementing the volunteering programmes.

As per the company’s estimates, the women empowerment programme is slated to reach out to approximately 71,000 people, while the education one should reach out to about 33,397 children in the next 2 to 5 years. As per Summi Sharma, vice president, ifly-IndiGo, and CSR lead, IndiGo, ‘The goals for next few years is to further develop a robust employee engagement and volunteering programme.’

For Microsoft, the company’s stated mission of ‘empower(ing) every person and organization in the planet to achieve more’ makes community development an integral part of its core philosophy. Microsoft India started the Employee Giving campaign in 2000. Now in its 18th year, this campaign runs throughout the year with participation from all employees during the official Giving month of October. During this month, every employee gets the opportunity to give back to the community by engaging with NGOs and spreading awareness on social issues. They also donate to charities and the amount is matched by the company. As per Microsoft, it is the largest corporate giving programme in the world.

Employees have the option to contribute either monetarily or by donating their time (two working days) for volunteering. Employees can choose the cause depending on their personal strengths and interests. Volunteering projects include the partnership with Teach for India wherein Microsoft provided technical training to people from poor backgrounds. Another one is where employees supported activities like voice lending, book editing and skits for a Children’s Day celebration programme at the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) campus at Banjara Hills.

Different teams work for different causes. The BPO team volunteers with the Lotus Petal Foundation School in Gurgaon, conducting support classes for students and weekly engagement sessions to enhance their communication skills; the IT team volunteers at the Amar Jyothi Foundation in Delhi for a month, training two students with disabilities to compete at an IT Challenge based on Microsoft’s Office suite and MIT Scratch, hosted in China.

During 2016–17, employees donated Rs 29.5 million towards the funding of 140 NGOs; this amount was Rs 23.1 million the previous year.

In 2017, employees across different countries volunteered 70,000 hours. Globally, the company along with its employees raised $156 million for non-profits during the year – enabling 19,550 organisations through funding and volunteer time – making this the highest ever in a single year for the company. In the 35 years of the global Giving campaign, an average of $125,000 per day has been raised – generating a total of $1.6 billion and counting, with employees logging in 5 million volunteer hours in that time.

Since 1983, Microsoft’s employees have contributed to more than 31,000 non-profits worldwide. The focus areas are multiple, such as enrolling and helping retain children in schools, skilling and improving employment options for people from poor backgrounds, working with disabled people, and disaster response. Additionally, employees can also suggest NGOs or causes.

To manage the Giving initiative, the entire programme is tracked by an online tool, which tracks and monitors all the hours contributed by employees. It allows employees to access their contributions and makes it easier for them to know where they stand.

NetApp, a global provider of storage and data management software, has a community-driven employee-engagement programme called Volunteer Time Off (VTO) which has been in place in India since 2011. The global programme enables each employee to volunteer up to five consecutive days per year during regular business hours, with full pay, to support non-profit organisations or schools of their choice without being encumbered by questions from their managers or bosses. This potentially translates into 1,500+ employees contributing up to 60,000 hours of community service every year.

Aside from this, NetApp also provides cash donations to organisations such as Parikrama Foundation, Akshaya Patra Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity, to raise awareness and contribute to issues such as education, malnutrition, health and sanitation. The company’s main role in these activities is to provide funding and support the execution through employee volunteering. As stated by Harish Arora, vice president– engineering, ‘At NetApp, CSR is an integral part of the work culture. The company’s philosophy is defined by its commitment to delivering the best possible results for the communities it serves.’

Through the past few years, the VTO programme has gone through major overhauls to address the gaping holes in implementation and improve its overall impact. Initially, the lack of a well-structured programme without a strong governance model meant that these volunteering efforts were ad hoc and had limited impact. The formation of the India Giving (CSR) Committee and establishment of the India Giving team in 2014 was a step towards addressing these flaws, with both committees responsible for identifying causes and modes of intervention that would be taken up. A monitoring mechanism that included monthly and quarterly reviews was adopted.

To avoid the erstwhile tedious and time-consuming manual process of coordinating efforts across employees, in late 2016 the Benevity tool was launched to use technology to manage this programme. The tool is a virtual platform that brings together charities and volunteers on a Facebook-like forum for community-service activities. An employee can use this tool to get access to more than 500 different volunteering projects across charities and causes, pick whichever project appeals to them, and register for a specific event. This results in the employee’s calendar being automatically blocked while linking them to logistics support for the volunteering event, like transport and meal requirement, that helps in planning and execution. These measures have resulted in an uptick in the employee participation rate from 20 per cent before 2015 to a rate of 38 per cent last year (higher than the industry average of 25–30 per cent). As per the company’s claims, the supported projects have also positively impacted close to 25,000 beneficiaries. The total CSR cash-donation outlay for FY18 was $390,000, with a goal of volunteering 6,000 hours and achieving a participation rate of 46 per cent. As per records, 1,460 employees have volunteered a total of 4,192 hours until now in FY18–19 – this is a participation rate of 56 per cent. As per the company, two per cent of profits are being spent on CSR.

Employees are offered the choice of a calendar of activities or their preferred cause. Logistics are taken care of by the company. Employees can also nominate NGOs of their choice. In the last FY, six more NGOs, including Ashalaya Trust and Royal Common Society for Blind, were selected through the NBC (NetApp Bangalore Campus) CSR Program, out of more than 120 nominations. The selection process involves NetApp’s global giving partner Silicon Valley Community Foundation conducting due diligence and shortlisting NGOs, who are then approved by the CSR Committee. The criteria include experience, impact on beneficiaries, volunteering engagements available, composition of managing committee and team, references from other corporates, transparency and reporting.

(The company would do well to take note that smaller NGOs may be better when it comes to depth and long-term sustainability of the impact made, rather than just focusing on the breadth and reach of partner NGOs.)

Some of the volunteer projects taken up with these NGOs are building new toilets for local schools and sponsoring midday meals and kitchen equipment in government schools. According to the company, assessment studies are yet to be conducted since it is the second year of execution of projects. As of now, impact measurement is done by the partners and the company will be looking at impact reports starting this year. However, impact assessment need not have a gestation period and the company should make it a priority if it wants its interventions to go beyond the ‘number of beneficiaries’ metric.

PwC’s employee-volunteering policy gives employees the opportunity to become part of the company’s CSR initiatives throughout the year. Each employee can volunteer at least 16 hours per year (paid time-off) through programmes curated by the PwC India Foundation (PwCIF). While most of these are collaborations with partner NGOs, recently it has been expanded to non-partner organisations as well, selected through a thorough review of their programmes, abilities and capacities. These activities are split into general and skilled (pro bono) volunteering, spread across eight regional offices of PwC India. In FY 2017, 941 PwCIF volunteers contributed 6,300 volunteer hours, while 8,100-plus pro bono hours were spent in assisting several institutions in areas such as business strategy, financial modelling and impact assessment through 8 initiatives in 7 regions.

Activities range from cleaning up beaches, tree planting and blood donation drives to training sessions on Microsoft Office, email etiquette, advanced Google search, smartphone usage, e-wallets and online commerce platforms. For example, volunteers participated as mentors to the graduate and postgraduate students of Ashwini Charitable Trust to provide career guidance, building their leadership skills, etc., until they completed their courses. Business teams also provide pro bono services for small and medium organisations. Although there are multiple programmes to choose from throughout the year, at a particular time only one cause is available for consideration.

Employees are encouraged to contribute part of their salaries towards selected campaigns by PwCIF, with the company matching the contribution. The company aims to continue with its employee-volunteering work with a view to increasing skill-volunteering activities. Jaivir Singh, Vice Chairman, PwCIF says, ‘Over the recent years, engagement in social initiatives of the organisation has become an essential element of employee satisfaction. We value this parameter and work towards presenting our employees year-round, wide-ranging volunteering opportunities to choose from.’

SAP’s employee-volunteering initiatives encourage employees to drive programmes that impact the community in sustainable and inclusive ways. As Gunjan Patel, head – corporate social responsibility, SAP Asia Pacific, Japan and Indian Subcontinent, says, ‘SAP’s employee-volunteer programmes use its employees’ expertise to enhance the company’s vision of helping the world run better and improve people’s lives.’

These programmes are targeted at three areas, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals: society, economy and environment. There are year-long volunteering drives across locations, driven by different teams, in the following areas: education, sustainability and environment, sports for development, health, diversity and inclusion. The frequency of these activities may be one time, monthly, quarterly or yearly, and employees are free to choose the cause they feel most passionate about. The company primarily focuses on STEM education and digital literacy for underprivileged people as part of its sustained year-long initiatives.

Typically, volunteering activities are divided into skilled volunteering and traditional or inclusive volunteering. Code Week is an example of the former which involves a rigorous training programme undertaken over a period of one week to upskill not just students but also the trainers. The curriculum includes topics like SCRATCH and SAP Build (how to build your own app), the objective being to make students interested in coding and programming languages. It also helps in informing trainers on the evolving curriculum and honing their knowledge-sharing skills.

SAP offers two kinds of paid time-off for volunteers: social sabbaticals and pro bono initiatives. These are further divided into global social sabbatical and local social sabbatical. As part of the global sabbatical, employees can undertake a one-month sabbatical to work with an NGO or social enterprise. This is a competitive offering to the top talents of the company. In the local one, employees are provided with the opportunity for a two-week on-site, structured pro bono assignment in Bengaluru and NCR (where its offices are located).

One of SAP’s key initiatives is the flagship Global Volunteer Ambassador (GVA) – a strategic approach to equip employees with the requisite skills to lead volunteering initiatives on their own. With this in mind, an annual Month of Service programme is organised wherein employees, globally, can undertake as many volunteering activities as they wish in the month of October. Approximately 70 per cent of SAP employees participate in this programme, which can have as many as 150 volunteering opportunities. In 2017, 8,450 employees contributed a total of 62,324 volunteering hours through 322 activities, and impacted 35,964 beneficiaries. Volunteers trained about 50,500 students across 390 centres on SCRATCH and SAP Build as a part of Code Week.

The October month of service in 2017 had participation from 8,331 employees, with 58,324 hours contributed and 192,872 people impacted.

NGO partners are chosen through a predefined standard operating process that includes a thorough due-diligence verification. The company places emphasis on the cause and impact rather than the NGO. The goal is to find a partner with a vision that complements the company’s own.

Feedback is taken from lead volunteers who drive various initiatives, though continuous feedback is sought from all employees. The company is implementing an employee-volunteering management tool to internally streamline the entire programme. However, it did not respond to CB’s question on the goals for the next 3 to 5 years.

CB view: The good news, the bad news, and what should be done better
Employee volunteering is the current, trendy avatar of CSR, or at least that’s what seems going by the sheer number of companies who have embraced it enthusiastically. While such programmes have been a part and parcel of many such organisations even before CSR became a buzzword (think of the blood-donation camps that were organised by employees or the annual visit to an NGO), in the last few years it has become a core part of CSR for any company that has a savvy PR team—or a savvy outsourced PR team in any case. Part of this has to do with the increased ‘wokeness’ of millennials and the younger generations who are not completely sold on capitalism but will duly (and somewhat reluctantly) accept capitalism mixed with a bit of social, do-good outreach. Then there’s the undeniable fact that employees as CSR warriors makes for good annual report reading and PR stories.

Irrespective of why corporates have latched on to this volunteering bandwagon, there’s no denying the fact that it can provide much-needed funds and services to resource-starved NGOs while giving employees the opportunity to help and serve communities. However, care needs to be taken that in their zeal to make a difference, companies don’t force-fit such projects into their CSR strategies or foist useless activities on NGOs. If there’s no synergy between what their partners need and what employees can offer, then the entire exercise becomes a cosmetic, glossy attempt at helping others when, in reality, it only helps in producing sound bites for the company. The first and only consideration should be positive impact on the beneficiaries or the selected cause. Goodwill is good but it is never enough.

Volunteering projects should not devolve into another team-building exercise or an avenue for employees to develop their skills. While these can be welcome by-products, the main focus and goal has to be the social cause of these programmes – the children, the elderly, the environment, etc., for whom such activities are designed. When the focus shifts to employees, these programmes become additional work for the participating NGOs, who would then be well within their rights to demand monetary compensation for their time and resources from the company.

An encouraging trend in volunteering is the growing number of pro bono services that companies are providing to NGO partners. This obviously is much better and more beneficial than a one-off daylong visit to an old-age home or a government school where the engagement is perfunctory at best and performative at worst. Such pro bono work is especially priceless when it comes to services such as legal or technical expertise that many non-profits and people from marginalised groups do not have access to. Again, here the benefits should be mostly one-way; employee satisfaction and skill development, if it happens, should be a happy coincidence.

Companies would do well to provide more paid time-off to employees and give them more leeway in choosing the causes and programmes as well as getting involved in implementation. This will take the pressure off NGO partners in organising the activities and can be a great way to foster team spirit, leadership development, general camaraderie and social consciousness among employees. Payroll donation is a common-enough feature in most companies and they should ideally avoid making this a focal point of their CSR achievements. Impact assessment is a must, not an option. There is simply no point making employees and NGOs give their time towards efforts that yield marginal, transient benefits at best.

At times, companies force employees to participate in such activities, even though it is supposed to be voluntary. The pressure becomes more acute for monetary donations. Even if it’s not stated explicitly, many times managers and CSR/HR teams make it clear that employees who don’t feel generous enough to donate or participate can suffer negative consequences. Besides, there are enough indications that putting your hand up for such worthy causes makes for a nice bullet point in the year-end performance review. While there’s not much companies can do about such individuals, it should make it clear in its policy and approach that employee volunteering and donation have to be done in the right spirit – for the cause, and not for the cause called ‘career progression’.

Though there’s much to cheer about the rise of employee volunteering, as with anything that is tagged CSR, good intentions need to necessarily be aided by good design and planning. It is imperative that corporates understand that volunteering means giving one’s time and efforts for the right reason and towards the right cause. Exploiting or wasting this innate sense of goodness of people and forcing unwanted activities on partner NGOs is not fair or acceptable. With a little bit of consciousness raising for themselves, corporates can make such volunteering a win-win for all stakeholders.