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2014 - Not only the year of the Tiger I say

With the countdown starting for 2015, I took some time to reflect on this year and am quite glad to share what I found. The year 2014 had a lot of BUZZ around CSR with the Companies Bill mandating Corporate Social Responsibility. New areas like "Swachh Bharat"got added to the Bill with the Prime Minister talking about it.

A lot of work happened on CSR in the country with corporates pledging their support to various initiatives and CSS Corp did the same too!

It was the first ever year of a structured approach to CSR for us and we had a huge task ahead. We started with brainstorming on what should be the focus area for our company, something which is relevant to our business. The decision wasn't made in close doors but we took the employee survey route to understand what was running in the minds of our employees when it came to CSR. We also studied what our clients were doing on this front and then came up with our CSR strategy with clearly defined areas of focus i.e Responsible E-Waste Management, Community Engagement, Environment and Wildlife Conservation as well as Empowering talent. We captured all of this in our CSR Policy.

The next set of questions was how we go about executing the focus areas- questions like should we do it on our own or should we partner with someone having an expertise in some of these areas, what should be the geographical areas to focus etc.

After careful thought and much deliberations, we decided to partner with an NGO having an expertise in the field of responsible waste management for our E-Waste Management project and partner with the Karnataka Forest Reserve to start work on the Wildlife conservation front.

What happened next was quite interesting, on the E-Waste management we started with hosting a stake holders meeting at our chennai office and were glad to see participation from the chennai corporation, AIEMA, various schools where we had donated computers and of course the volunteers from CSS Corp. It was a good beginning!

We then went ahead to create awareness about E-Waste amongst our own employees and the schools around us. The turnout at each of these sessions was quite encouraging. We had an internal volunteering campaign rolled out too and the response was overwhelming with close to 100+ employees coming forward and expressing their interest to participate in the activities. The unique E-Waste bins made of tetra pack were placed across all facilities and the first collection of E-Waste came from the bangalore facility where the employees dropped 12 Kgs of e-Waste in the bin. This was our first ever collection and we all were quite excited about it. The awareness launch at schools by our partner- SAAHAS was going good too and as I write this we have covered 11 schools in Ambattur. An interesting information we gathered was that e-waste was now part of the school curriculum as well! Times are changing and the need to create awareness around areas impacting environment is being felt by all.

In Chennai, where we have our largest operations, our community engagement programme trained about 1000 students from a weak socio economic strata on Microsoft Office packages part of the digital literacy campaign executed by one of our partners. The 40 hour vernacular medium course focused on providing hands-on training on the usage of smart computer tools like Microsoft Office packages, thus promoting academic achievement in school. Emphasis was to make students digitally literate and help them use computers as an academic aid. The students on completion of the 40 hours program were invited to our office and the excitement on their faces was something to watch for as for them it was the first ever visit to a corporate. The leaders of CSS Corp were equally excited to interact with the students and give them some direction on what they could next in life to excel and make a career.

We had for the first time a green diwali at CSS Corp with about 24 employees coming forward and sharing their idea of a green diwali - saying no to crackers, vouching for an environment free of pollution, planting more trees, helping the underprivileged and in such ways contributing to the society and the environment.

While India was celebrating a green diwali, the global centres were engaged in a lot of community work - a food drive was organized by Dallas where employees cooked food for the families in need and on Poland employees worked towards making christmas memorable for the orphans and kids at a shelter by collecting money through cake and using the money to buy gifts for all the kids at the orphanage.

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