by Luane Lavery

CSI boosts development

Tribute to our unsung heroes

CSI volunteer programmes are pushing the bounds of development.
Unsung hero's improve social development

Corporate social investment is a key focus for South Africa as the government and business strive to improve the lives of many less fortunate communities across the country.

More than providing grants and funding for community projects, volunteerism is a vital component to helping communities to develop.

It not only gives people the opportunity to connect and share, but also breaks down barriers and most importantly creates the positive momentum needed to nurture these communities.

We need to identify and praise those unsung hero's, the volunteers that go into the community to make a difference.

According to Ruth Lewin, head of corporate sustainability at Discovery, “Discovery’s core purpose is to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives.

"Our volunteer programme and the participation of our people in volunteer initiatives are part of our DNA.

"We strive to promote a proactive culture of caring and compassion amongst our employees and thus we encourage them to get involved in volunteer work.”

The Discovery 'employee volunteer programme' kicked off in 2000 and has since developed it into a more strategic and structured approach that comprises of annual national initiatives and an Adopt-a-Project Initiative.

To ensure participation and show how committed Discovery is to volunteerism, the volunteer programme is included in performance conversations.

“The belief is that part of any employee’s great performance should include making a difference by volunteering their time to a project of their choice,” continues Lewin.

Volunteering makes an important contribution to society and adds to the overall economic output of the country by helping to build strong and cohesive communities.

In addition, the volunteering has several social benefits which include helping to develop norms of solidarity and reciprocity as well as fostering trust between citizens, all of which are essential to creating stable communities.

“Volunteering establishes the foundation for interdependence between corporate and community projects, where common goals and values are shared and an agreed sense of mutual responsibility established,” says Lewin.

“Through our approach of encouraging employees to commit and invest in long-term projects, we have seen an improvement in the relationship between our volunteers and communities that they are helping.

"As a result of this the communities we assist are more eager to participate in discussions that help us to achieve the legacy and sustainability we desire.”

“Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges and has the capacity to transform the pace and nature of social development in innovative ways.

"Volunteerism also benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. Within a corporate environment, volunteerism contributes to employees personal and career growth and increases motivation, improves leadership, confidence and interpersonal skills,” concludes Lewin.

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