Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This concept of collaborative effort is often emphasised by ancient literature and modern reason too.
Over the past decade, CSR has transformed from being just about cheque-book charity to becoming an integral strategic priority for businesses. Today, corporate boardrooms have realised that a business cannot succeed in isolation and that direct engagement in social development and social progress is necessary for sustainable growth, employee retention, and shareholder satisfaction. Hence, more companies are beginning to look beyond their silos to make a positive impact.
Driven by this idea, the Community Outreach team at Embassy Group has initiated a unique platform called the ‘Corporate Connect Program’ that champions inter-company collaboration towards achieving social development. With the vision to contribute to the social and economic development of under-served communities around its properties, Embassy Group hopes to join hands with the 190+ Corporate occupiers within its Office Parks to create a larger radius of social impact through collective action.
“As a part of Embassy Manyata Business Park – we thought that since there was some synergy between ours and Embassy’s interest in the CSR space, we could come together to achieve something bigger than what we could have done by ourselves,” says Roopa Reddy, Site HR Manager, Nvidia.
With over five years’ experience in focusing on empowering Government school students and providing sustainable infrastructure solutions, the Embassy Community Outreach team has developed a tried and tested methodology for achieving impact in this space. Embassy Group has adopted 17 Government Schools that benefit from educational and infrastructural programs, with a focus on facilitating students with the perfect settings for skill-development and enhancing future employability through innovative and holistic learning programs. Program intervention in the schools is blended into the existing schedule and executed with a long-term vision in mind.
Embassy Group’s sustainable infrastructure solutions are based on providing infrastructure-based solutions to compensate for the lack of basic amenities around Embassy communities. Thus, they have mapped all the gaps around the 3 Embassy Group Office Parks and Residential Properties around Bangalore to supplement it with initiatives in waste management, providing safe and clean drinking water, offering Government School support, cleaning up various hotspots and more. These initiatives offer the opportunity for occupiers of Embassy Office Parks to also work as a community of Corporates towards addressing these issues.
In the last one year, 7 successful collaborations with Corporate partners have emerged due to these efforts. These have included projects ranging from joint upgradation of dilapidated Government Schools, new school builds, sponsorship of holistic educational programs, implementation of Health initiatives for students, setting up of computer labs/libraries and clean-up of various garbage hotpots in public spaces. With over 11 events curated, and 900 Corporate occupiers engaged, the reach of these initiatives was much further than if seen as the sole responsibility of just one stakeholder.
Some impactful partnerships have included a project with the Swiss Re Foundation (philanthropic arm of Swiss Re) and the Bangalore North Round Table Trust to construct a 7000 sq foot classroom block and upgrade the existing Government Model Primary Girls School, Devanahalli. Once the build is completed, 250 students enrolled at the school will be positively impacted by holistic and innovative educational programs.
Various Corporates have also joined hands with Embassy to encourage a robust Health & Hygiene program in Government schools. This has ranged from comprehensive health check-ups, medical records for each child, and awareness sessions on oral, handwashing, nutrition and general health.
With employee engagement becoming a core part of any Corporate culture, Embassy Group has worked towards identifying and curating opportunities for employees to be on the ground giving back to their surroundings. This has included joining hands to clean up, re-paint and beautify areas around the city that were in dire need of intervention. Further, corporate employees have also volunteered their time in actively engaging with Government School students in events such as Gift-a-Smile during the Holiday Season and Sinchana on Children’s Day.
“One of the core values of our company is togetherness and the ability of all of us, both from the corporate community and NGOs, the public and private sector, to come together to solve these problems on a day to day basis is what’s going to help us go to the next level,” says Ryan Bennett, General Manager, WeWork India, Embassy’s partner in the beautification of Challaghatta Government School and its surrounding areas.
In addition, the Group strives to identify and organize collaborative platforms wherein Corporates, Foundations, NGO’s and Government representatives can come together to discuss ways in which CSR experiences can be leveraged, and Social Return on Investment can be maximized. In the last year, Embassy has put together 2 Forums with the American Chamber of Commerce and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. Both Forums were offered the opportunity to network with like-minded organisations facing similar challenges after the implementation of the CSR law and learnings on the most effective path in social development for the future.
These efforts have seen the company be recognized as a leader in CSR innovation, having received dual honours during the prestigious India CSR Leadership Summit, organised by the INDIA CSR Group. In addition to being receiving the Community Initiative Award for their holistic program interventions in government schools in Bangalore, the Group also received the Runner Up for the CMRU-INDIA CSR Best CSR Inter-Company Collective Action Project for Collaboration.
Embassy Group believes that collaboration is the path forward to closing the gaps and creating long-term, sustainable change. With a strong, aligned focus on partnering together, identifying innovative solutions, executing projects, and bringing in the involvement of stakeholders is the path they see towards future success.