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India calling

Charity goes beyond boardroom with companies taking Rang De Basanti effect further, writes Vivita Relan.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 04:03 IST

Corporate social responsibility’ — that turned companies into large, benevolent creatures, is now moving beyond the boardroom, thanks to greater employee participation. Whether inspired by Rang De Basanti’s activist protagonists or just an awakened sense of social consciousness, employees are taking closer interest in charity. 

Charity handouts are a thing of the past, employees are encouraged to actually make a difference. Says Pankaj Bajaj, a software engineer at TCS, who volunteers at a school for underprivileged girls, “Volunteering gives me a feeling of well-being and there’s a sense of accomplishment in that.”

Says Shakti Sharma, head of Tata’s social services wing, “Mobilising employees for social causes, or volunteerism has become a buzzword now, but Tata Steel and its employees have had this spirit forever.”

Young professionals like Pankaj are role models for their peers. “I feel like an idealist a la Rang De Basanti,” he chuckles.

Microsoft has launched an India Giving Campaign where an employee of Microsoft donates a part of their monthly income for a charitable cause. The company in turn contributes a matching amount. Citigroup has a global initiative encouraging employees to be active with a chosen set of foundations. Employees can even take time off to volunteer for a foundation.

Volunteerism, at final count, is a win-win situation, that builds company solidarity, improves employee satisfaction and of course benefits the cause.