Dr Camille M Gonsalves, Country Head Corporate Affairs and CSR, Lafarge India
At Lafarge, we believe that true community wealth is created when we can ensure a sustainable future for our local communities. Through partnerships with local NGOs and the government, we have identified and prioritised CSR programmes that address the root causes, and through our CSR activities, provide solutions to fill the gaps, says Dr Camille M Gonsalves, Country Head Corporate Affairs and CSR, Lafarge India. Excerpts from the interview.
What is your understanding of CSR and why is it necessary?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the ability for a corporate to engage and conduct a meaningful dialogue with a wide spectrum of stakeholders affected by the organisation´s business activities. CSR is not about philanthropy or doing charity services for the community, and is essential for the long-term sustainability of a corporate. The CSR dialogues and CSR activities help establish good relations with community members and leaders, and allow corporate to earn the license to operate in that area.
At Lafarge, our approach to CSR is guided by the Lafarge Principles of Action which states: Wherever present, we operate with the utmost respect for the common interest of present and future generations; we act as responsible members of our communities by contributing to the development of people, their health, rights and well-being by generating economic growth and supporting social, educational and cultural advancement.
How involved are your employees in the initiative?
Lafarge´s Sustainability Ambitions 2020 encourages employees to get involved in our social responsibility activities with communities where we operate, as it helps build good long- term community relations. Lafarge has pledged that by 2020, the volunteer time devoted by employees to local initiatives will represent one million hours of volunteer work each year, which is equivalent to one per cent of the work time of all Lafarge employees.
Lafarge India supports the reading development of children with a CSR initiative: the æJoy of Storytelling´ that involves Lafarge employees and their families volunteering their time to read aloud storybooks from the library collection to children. Lafarge India has several childrens` libraries to promote reading and development skills in children under Lafarge India´s CSR education program Sakshar Bharat. By partnering with NGOs that publish exceptional content for children´s books, six libraries for children were created in Chhattisgarh.
During the month of June, blood donation camps are organised at Lafarge plants and sites across India. These camps are organised in partnership with specialised organisations like Red Cross Society, CMH Bilaspur and others, so that the units collected can be used for the benefit of those in need of blood. Employees, contractor workmen, villagers and local stakeholders voluntary donate blood at such camps resulting in average collection of nearly 200 units.
What are your priorities while framing a CSR plan? On what basis do you select these activities?
At Lafarge, we believe that true community wealth is created when we can ensure a sustainable future for our local communities where we operate. Our CSR programmes focus on health, safety, education, employment and rural infrastructure solutions. Through partnerships with local NGOs and the government, we have identified and prioritised CSR programmes that address the root causes, and through our CSR activities, provide solutions to fill the gaps.
Tell us a bit about your CSR activities.
At Lafarge India, our CSR programmes focus on health, safety, education, employment and rural infrastructure solutions. For example, for our Public Health actions, Lafarge India participated in setting up an eye clinic and mobile dispensaries in the state of Chhattisgarh.
Medical care and advice are provided free of charge. Every year, over 25,000 people from 75 villages receive treatment. For our Education actions, we have created a successful masonry training programme for young jobseekers. For their practical training, the apprentice masons build classrooms for schools in the region. Lafarge employees also help the young masons find jobs with local builders or suppliers.
Lafarge India´s education programme
We have identified and prioritised CSR programmes that address the root causes, and through our CSR activities, provide solutions to fill the gaps.