Many CSR issues have been identified in Slovakia in recent years. This situation encouraged the business sector to link closely with civil society. As a consequence, hundreds of projects and programmes, supported by business environment, are contributing to the betterment of the society and communities at the present. Speaking on behalf of corporations, the main focus has been given on financial and in-kind support, while the human resources potential remained unexplored.
In this context Citi in Slovakia has been proposed to lead a new initiative called Engage aimed at cross business employees' volunteerism. Our ambition was to increase the extent of employee engagement by providing a network to local practitioners and sharing of best practices; creating an opportunity for collaborative action between businesses; and building local community capacity. With a tremendous help of local broker, PONTIS foundation, Citi initiated, in February 2007, a first meeting of interested corporations. 8 other corporations participated. This meeting helped to design activity plans fitting local needs and corporate resources. The key point was to unify basic volunteerism priorities of corporations so that the further activity plan would ensure sustainable partnerships and collaborations. We were able to achieve this goal due to the broker which circulated a questionnaire to identify the above mentioned priorities. This resulted in two great initiatives:
- Restoring of Calvary in Banska Bystrica during the summer of 2007. More than 50 participants representing 4 companies joined this initiative focused on restoring a national monument.
- "Our Bratislava" event, which we expect some 300 volunteers from more than 18 companies to join this huge initiative that should help Bratislava become healthier and nicer. PONTIS offered participants 25 excellent activities, fully mapping CSR triple bottom line agenda.
Internal communication - information campaign within corporations expected a lot of effort as in many companies these kind of team challenges were launched for the first time, partnership with public institutions which were opened but a little bit hesitant at the beginning
Community groups gained from the completed activity, from the exposure to business people and from the possibility of longer term association with the company. Employees have had a chance to experience team challenges, to work in unfamiliar surroundings out of routine and have had opportunities to develop their skills. Companies benefited from the improved team building skills and from the increased motivation and commitment of staff. Companies also benefited from working together in one business alliance Engage - sharing experience, know-how.