Serving the Community: An Interview with Alberto Errico
How do companies in your region benefit from BCP?
Today’s customer and the general public are well informed, and their demands are for much more than just the product. They are looking for organizations that engage in responsible business and sustainability, including giving back to society, being involved with the less fortunate in the community, and taking care of the environment.
Through BCP and other forms of community outreach, we are able to improve our corporate image and enhance our brand reputation through increased awareness of the company and its products.
BCP is a worthwhile and unique program, and the fact that it is volunteer-led helps employees have a sense of ownership in the various initiatives, and it means the program is self-driven. This also creates a volunteer culture that can be emulated by new employees and generally creates high spirits and motivation.
What is the effect of BCP on employees?
BCP has a major positive effect on employees and their families, especially in the region we operate in.
Employees get to bond during BCP activities, and their sense of belonging also enhances teamwork and team spirit. The special tie to the organization then contributes to employee retention.
BCP also acts as a pull factor, playing a major role in shaping the company’s image in the eyes of various stakeholders, including current and potential employees. Bata is seen as a good employer that cares not only about its employees but also the community it operates in.
What are some benefits of corporate community involvement that are sometimes overlooked?
It does not necessary lead directly to increased sales, but corporate community involvement goes a long way in giving the general public a positive image of an organization, leading to various multiplier effects in general business.
Giving back to the community has both short- and long-term positive effects. Many young people get interested in working with us, and obviously many governments would like to be associated with and support responsible corporations like us. The communities we live and operate in also feel proud because of our support for various community initiatives through BCP.
Tell us about your participation in BCP.
I have always given moral and in-person support to BCP initiatives, and I derive a lot of pleasure from this, especially when I see the smiles radiating from the children and youth when I interact with them.
I have helped to create a volunteer culture with extensive participation in BCP. Some examples would include nurturing environmental awareness with tree planting, mentoring students through a daylong job shadowing program, supporting youth sports in Limuru, recognizing BCP volunteers, donating blood for children and mothers, and supporting a drive for sanitary pads for girls living in poverty.
My personal involvement in BCP gives me a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction, since I know I am impacting lives positively and creating a brighter future for children.
Serving the Community: Interview with Rajeev Gopalakrishnan
How can community outreach improve corporate image?
While it is a fact that businesses operate for the purpose of maximizing profits, maintaining a good relationship with the society they operate in is still vital. Businesses regard their good name and their brand to be one of their most valuable assets, and by showing that they take their social responsibility seriously, they encourage the public to take them seriously.
Various studies have revealed that consumers are much more willing to spend money on the products and services of a company that has proven itself to be socially responsible. It creates a landing place in the minds of target consumers, catering to their brand equity awareness and creating a positive brand image for them.
How does the Bata Children’s Program balance community and business interest?
Through our BCP programs, we work with children while leveraging the interests of the business wherever possible.
As India has a growing kids’ segment – with 1.21 billion people it is the second most populous country in the world, and children represent 39 percent of the population – we focus on creating a strong brand image in that segment through BCP.
What is the effect of BCP on employees?
BCP helps employees feel committed to the company and proud of it, which in turn helps with better productivity and retention in the long run.
When employees visit the BCP-supported schools, they feel proud that the company truly believes in giving back to society.
Participating employees also gain understanding of their local communities. There are so many who have never seen a government school or visited a rural area. Through BCP, they get an opportunity to interact with children from underprivileged backgrounds and get another perspective on life.
Additionally, volunteering with BCP gives employees a sense of achievement at a personal and team level. When employees from various departments come together for a BCP activity, it fosters teamwork and better working relationships. Many times employees want to do something good for society but don’t have a direction; BCP provides them a platform.
What are some benefits of corporate community involvement that are sometimes overlooked?
In areas where there are hindrances in operations from the local community or local political party leaders, social responsibility programs can ease relationships to some degree and help smooth the functioning of company operations, for example. Building the image of a responsible corporate citizen also helps when it comes to dealing with government agencies.
Can you give an example of your participation in BCP?
BCP has always been close to my heart, and I am personally involved with many social initiatives.
We are supporting a non-formal school in the slum area of Gurgaon. These are the children of housemaids, rickshaw pullers, daily wage labors, etc. Due to poverty, they have never gone to school or dropped out and gotten involved in child labor.
Recently, we supported the school with a new building, better teachers, furniture, books, uniforms, school bags, nutritious meals and extracurricular activities. With better facilities and quality education, the children are attending regularly and enjoying it, and enrollment is up.
This initiative was taken up by my wife, Resmy, and a great execution followed from our BCP team led by Mahima [Chandra].
During the inaugural event, I could see the excitement on the faces of the children. I visited each class and interacted with them. They recited poems, did a small skit on the importance of educating girls and gave a beautiful dance performance. The teachers are also hardworking, and we would like to support them with training.
I believe that every child is capable of progress, if provided an opportunity and the right guidance. Through BCP, we try to reach out to as many underprivileged children as possible and help them improve their lives.
BCP India Celebrates Diwali with Children from BCP Schools
A total of 17 BCP India volunteers dedicated their time to visiting children from underprivileged communities studying at three BCP schools: Government Girls Primary School, in Gurgaon; Government Middle School in Bataganj, and Batanagar School. Over the course of the two days, volunteers visited each of the schools, meeting a total of around 1,700 children.
The children prepared their classrooms in preparation for the Diwali celebrations, decorating and displaying traditional lamps known as “Diyas”, and also gave cultural performances for the visiting volunteers. Following this, the BCP volunteers distributed sweets and delicious snacks, and small gifts were also given to the teachers as a mark of tradition and respect.
Sushil Sood, one of the BCP volunteers, commented: “In what better manner can the festival be celebrated than by bringing smiles to the faces of underprivileged children. Children were eagerly waiting for us to come to celebrate the festival with them, and they decorated their classrooms beautifully.”
BCP India Celebrates International Day of the Girl Child
To mark the international day of recognition, a team of four BCP volunteers organized a workshop on the theme of “Good Touch Bad Touch” in collaboration with experts and psychologists from the School Health Annual Report Programme. The activity was held at Government Primary Girls School in Sukhrali, with girls from Sugam School also in attendance.
Around 150 girls were educated on various issues including safe and unsafe touches, self-safety measures and communication with parents. A quiz was held at the end of the workshop, with small gifts for the participants. The response was excellent, as the girls showed great interest in the activities, and some were even able to discuss certain personal issues on a one-to-one basis with the psychologist.
Principal of Government Girls Primary School Ms. Sudesh commented: “In today’s scenario, where the cases of female child sexual abuse are increasing, these kinds of workshops and communication with the children are very important. I welcome Bata to organize more such sessions for the girls.”
BCP India: Eye Exams for 1,700 Schoolchildren
Optometrists and doctors filled out health records for each child after their exams, prescribing glasses for many of them. These records were then discussed at parent-teacher conferences so any health issues could be quickly addressed.
At awareness workshops, the children learned simple eye exercises and other ways to take care of their eyes, including following a healthy diet.
Children’s eye health is important: Myopic children have trouble reading the blackboard, while hyperopic ones struggle to read books, for example. Other disorders can lead to permanent visual impairment if not treated early.
BCP volunteer Barkha Kapoor, of Bata India’s e-commerce team, said, “What I liked most about this activity was that it was not just a checkup camp – a separate session was undertaken with the children on eye care awareness, and a few problems were discussed on a case-by-case basis. Vision problems can adversely affect students’ ability to function at school and enjoy learning, so regular screening is essential for timely diagnosis and treatment.”
BCP India Workshops Promote Teen Health
Topics included life skills, personality development, exploring career options, health, hygiene, substance abuse, and physical changes in adolescence. Boys and girls were separated for a few of the sessions.
Facilitators discussed how the media portrays issues such as sexual abuse, violence and drinking, as this can have a big impact on this age group.
Another highlight was a talk on mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and suicide, especially as they sometimes relate to school results.
Finally, an important session was held for the girls, many of whom learned for the first time about health and proper hygiene surrounding menstruation. The girls were able to ask questions one-on-one.
Eight BCP volunteers participated to make the sessions a success.
The principal of the Harsaru school, Asha Rani, said she would welcome BCP organizing more such student workshops. “These children receive no guidance on issues of adolescence. If children are given correct information, they will also be able to pass it on to their children one day.”
BCP Sri Lanka Promotes Sustainable Future for World Children’s Day
Planting trees helps to sustain life and the environment, and to keep the world in good condition for generations to come. With this in mind, BCP Sri Lanka chose to set a fine example for the World Children’s Day celebrations, donating the trees and helping to teach the children their importance in the world’s ecosystem.
A total of 10 volunteers spent two hours, along with the children, their teachers and a few parents, planting the trees they had brought, which were a mixture of mango, pomegranate, cherry, guava, avocado and gooseberry, along with some other local fruits.
Speaking on the occasion of the event, Chamila De Silva, human resources manager for Bata Sri Lanka and BCP volunteer, commented: “It is essential for the younger generation to learn the importance of the environment, and it has been our objective to guide them to protect nature and love it.”
BCP Bangladesh Fighting Childhood Blindness in Slum Area
On August 5, total of 12 BCP volunteers were assigned to the Tongi slum area vaccination center in Gazipur, where vitamin A capsules were given to around 500 children under the supervision of the Gazipur City Corporation. Another 20 volunteers from BCP Bangladesh visited the slum areas, explaining the importance of the event and motivating parents to bring their children to the center.
Abhijet, one of the BCP Bangladesh volunteers, commented: “This event was one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had, as it allowed me to contribute directly to helping a child have a healthier life.”
As well as providing volunteers to support the distribution activities, BCP Bangladesh also provided two vehicles. Chitpan Kanhasiri, country manager of Bata Bangladesh, stated he felt the campaign provided a great opportunity for BCP Bangladesh to partner with the government to assist the children of the community, and that BCP Bangladesh intends to continue this support in the future.