The business of making friends
“Business is about more than just making money; more than just benefiting from the community. It is also about giving back to the community.” Pierre Eloy, MD, Shaanxi Fuping Cement Co. (sponsor of CSF project in Fuping County).
Multinational companies with operations in China are increasingly recognizing the importance of engaging with their surrounding communities through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in the areas of education, health, and environmental health and safety, and this trend is certain to accelerate in the years ahead. Since many lack the expertise and infrastructure to undertake these projects alone, they turn to specialist aid agencies and non-governmental organizations for help.
Working in collaboration with China Schools Foundation, Shaanxi Fuping Cement Co., a subsidiary of Italcementi Group, the world’s fifth largest cement producer, chose to align its CSR project with a major policy initiative of the Chinese government – improving rural education. It’s contribution to CSF funded improvement projects at four schools near its factory and quarry.
Consistent with CSF’s philosophy, the program included infrastructure improvements and a wide variety of learning resources including libraries, fully-equipped science classrooms, musical instruments, audio/visual equipment, art and stationery supplies, playground and sports equipment, and new fixtures and furnishings such as desks, chairs, cabinets and blackboards. Teacher training and other co-curricular programs will continue through the balance of the academic year.
Italcementi’s project reflected a number of CSR best practices and achieved a variety of corporate goals.
- The company aligned its CSR project with a major national policy – improvement of rural education.
- In consulation with CSF, the company helped identify project schools which were both strategically located in proximity to their facilities and which were attended by children of employees.
- The company actively involved top executives and line employees at all levels. On designated days, staff members and factory workers worked side-by-side with teachers, students and CSF staff assembling new furniture, setting up libraries, and unpacking learning materials.
- The company cooperated in an active and highly favorable public relations campaign, including local and provincial TV, print and web coverage. Attendance at project ceremonies included senior government officials, a representative from the Italian Embassy in Beijing, company employees, a large number of school parents, and village residents.