For Vodafone, the success of doing anything for the society is not measured in terms of numbers but the impact that it can create which eventually multiplies. P Balaji, Director, Vodafone India shares the company’s sustainability agenda and the current projects that it has undertaken with other NGOs and organizations –
What has been the sustainability agenda for Vodafone 2017?
From the point of view of Vodafone, we focus a lot on being a responsible business. To that extent sustainability is pretty much part of our operations. It is not just what we do but also how we do, which is equally important – whether it is about reducing carbon footprints of our operations, or making sure that responsible business practices are followed across our entire value chain. We also have taken other sustainability initiatives – like for instance we have taken a green initiative where we are planting several hundreds and thousands of trees to save our planet. These kinds of initiatives ensure that our customers try to relate to the kind of initiatives we take.
On the CSR front we have a very strong focus that goes into making a difference as a company in the areas of women empowerment, education and agriculture. In recent times we have focused on creating a platform called ‘Learning’, where we have multi-media content created for imparting science and mathematics to students from Standard VI – VII. We now created a platform for giving out scholarships to needy people, who look out for such aids but are not able to access it because of lack of information. This will happen to be the largest scholarship platform and will be multilingual in nature. Our impact is huge as we have touched upon 5 million people in the country through our CSR initiatives. We believe that we can significantly increase that in coming 5 years time.
How do you measure the success of your social initiatives?
The effort has been put in by every organization that we work with; for us the fact that we have scaled and have reached the target and that we understand technology means that we have been chosen to make an impact. So if we are able to reach 5 million people, and if we can enhance that to 4 times in the next few years, we will be doing that on the basis of our core strength and our philosophy of ‘Connecting for Good’. And therefore if we are using this as an overarching theme to make an impact on society, then we are doing our job. Most of this comes from having active collaboration with NGO sector, govt. entities on the ground, because for us the impact is created by collaborations. We undertake these activities and then we measure it and see if whether we had been able to do that and if we are able to do we are able to multiply that impact much faster. We also keep our ears and eyes open to collaborate with NGOs and even public safety organizations to come up with simple apps that can impact the lives of people. So for us measuring our success is not just in terms of number we reach but the fact that we are able to multiply the effect. For instance, today through Pratham as our NGO partner, we have reached out to 1000+ schools. At the same time we are trying to extend the partnership to the next level.
How do you encourage Vodafone employees to take part in your social projects?
We have an initiave called ‘World of Difference’ through which we try to mobilise the collective power of our employees. Besides our people giving time and skill, the company encourages them by giving 8 weeks time to go into chosen fields and specific skills and find the right organization to partner with. So far we have been able to put in 60,000 hours of efforts and partnered with close to 160 NGOs. The good thing is the employee engagement also goes up and the purpose of working for the society is served