Holcim Italia S.p.A.: Community Day (Volontariamente Insieme).

Project description

The idea to implement a project for internal (employees, managers) as well as external (NGOs) stakeholders was born from the desire to create a CSR tangible project in which employees could play an active role in creating value for the local communities around Holcim (Italia) cement plants. A desk analysis was conducted looking at some projects implemented by companies of different industries. After analyzing the case studies, Holcim (Italia) defined its own concept for the “Community Day”. This also included value-added aspects for instance the involvement of employees of cement plants, the participation of local NGOs only, close collaboration and mutual planning with the NGOs, small economic contribution in addition to time employees invest, etc. The basic concept of the Community Day is that Holcim employees volunteer one day at a local NGO supporting with a number of small activities. The day is regularly paid by Holcim.

In a first step, all NGOs in the neighborhood of Holcim (Italia) were identified and listed. The finally selected NGOs were in line with the values of Holcim. Other criteria were the following: proximity to Holcim (Italia) cement plants, level of engagement with the community and with relevant stakeholders and, above all, the NGOs’ area of activity and their customers. In fact Holcim employees are not professional volunteers so in some cases it is important to evaluate the NGO customers’ aptitude to get in touch with external guests or with non professional volunteers. Generally, the same NGOs participated every year.

The NGOs operate in a variety of fields such as working with disabled, old people or addicts. Generally all kind of NGOs can be involved except those involved in health and in international cooperation because this makes the volunteer program difficult. Employees are free to choose in which organization they would like to spend the day. They are involved in the daily business like gardening, small works of assembling, paper work, cooking, painting rooms etc.

The program was defined by Holcim (Italia) and all associated NGOs in the forefront of the Community Day and also further activities were carried out in close collaboration (e.g. involvement of employees, press release to the media).

Since the start of the activity in 2007, 3 Community Days with 229 participating employees and 10 NGOs were organized.

The first Community Day was launched in April 2007 involving staff functions employees from Merone office and 4 local NGOs. 53 employees participated and the general level of satisfaction among the employees was very high. One year later in 2008 the project was extended to Ternate cement plant. A total of 6 NGOs were involved. The number of participants rose to 84 participants. In 2009 two more NGOs joined the project and the quality of the actions done increased as well as the relationships with the NGOs. In total, 94 employees participated in the Community Day that year. For 2010, the Community Day is planned to take place in December.

Objectives

There are several reasons, why Holcim (Italia) believes in the strength of the “Community Day”:

  1. First of all, the internal and external reputation of being a social responsible company is strengthened.
  2. Holcim approaches the needs of the community in a proactive way and an open dialogue can be established.
  3. Employees have the opportunity to acquire new skills sharing knowledge and experiences with the employees of the NGOs and their clients and can actively participate in the community.
  4. Furthermore, team spirit among employees is fostered and work colleagues get the opportunity to get to know each other aside the familiar work environment.

Activities

The process of the Community Day during the past years is described below

Results

Employees have greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know different NGOs and to get an insight into their daily business. Most participants agreed that it was an important and valuable experience and they would like to participate again. The suggestion was, to have even two Community Days per year.
The results were collected through a questionnaire where on a scale from 1-5 the average satisfaction was very high with 4.7 points.

Following questions were included in the questionnaire:

  • Number of years of participation in the Community Days
  • Motivation for participating
  • Criteria for the selection of the NGO and its evaluation
  • Evaluation of the day/experience (what was good/not so good)
  • Motivation to participate the following year
  • Motivation to have two Community Days per year
  • Motivation of having an Environmental/Conservation day
  • Further ideas for stakeholder engagement activities with local communities.

NGOs received interesting inputs from Holcim employees (e.g. new ideas for fund raising) and they can also profit from economic contributions for some of their projects, e.g. new sustainable headquarter for Noi Genitori (NGO focused on disabled people), new furniture for rooms for disabled children (La Nostra Famiglia). NGOs discovered that Holcim consists of interesting and smart people who want to create value for their community.

The benefits for Holcim (Italia) are to have motivated employee who play an active role in CSR, stronger relations and open dialogues with the local community and well as an increased reputation of being a socially responsible company.

November 2010