Leaving a CSR footprint

IN MID April the Pontis Foundation distributed its Via Bona Slovakia Awards to publicly recognise companies and entrepreneurs which had supported corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy in Slovakia. Four companies were shortlisted for the main award for large corporations for their comprehensive approach to CSR, from which the jury selected Orange Slovensko as the winner for 2010.

Pavol Lančarič, general director of Orange Slovensko, accepts a Via Bona Main Award.Pavol Lančarič, general director of Orange Slovensko, accepts a Via Bona Main Award. (Source: Courtesy of Pontis Foundation)

IN MID April the Pontis Foundation distributed its Via Bona Slovakia Awards to publicly recognise companies and entrepreneurs which had supported corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy in Slovakia. Four companies were shortlisted for the main award for large corporations for their comprehensive approach to CSR, from which the jury selected Orange Slovensko as the winner for 2010.

The Slovak Spectator spoke with representatives of the four shortlisted companies, specifically with Ivica Hricová, media relations coordinator at Orange Slovensko, Zuzana Sehnalová, spokesperson of PwC in Slovakia, Andrej Gargulák, spokesperson of Slovak Telekom, and Oldřiška Luptáková from Prvá Stavebná Sporiteľňa about their companies’ CSR activities and their sources of inspiration.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Which are the key areas of CSR in your company?

Ivica Hricová (IH): The primary key areas for CSR within Orange Slovensko include charity and philanthropy, support to education, environmental protection and management, responsible marketing and the development and satisfaction of employees.

Zuzana Sehnalová (ZS): CSR for us is the way we integrate social, environmental, and economic concerns into our values, culture, decision-making and operations in an accountable and transparent manner, and in the way we establish better practices within the firm, create wealth and improve society. We want to understand well what CSR footprint we leave; we want to understand our impacts on key areas and have the chance to influence them.

Regarding the approach of PwC to CSR, it stems from our CSR strategy in which we divided our key areas into four quadrants: community, marketplace, workplace and environment. We also pay great attention to questions of ethics in business.

Andrej Gargulák (AG): We follow the slogan that ‘Each good deed helps’. We constantly look for opportunities to create conditions that will help improve the lives of those who need our help. Along with this we are trying to create a motivating environment for our employees, reliable and affordable products, and services for clients so they can appraise the advantages of modern technologies in their working lives as well as their private lives. We pursue a fair and transparent approach to our subcontractors and trade partners and last but not least we reduce environmental risks from our business. Corporate philanthropy also plays an especially important role.

Oldřiška Luptáková (OL): Prvá Stavebná Sporiteľňa (PSS) supports, in particular, humanitarian, housing and public projects. Support for humanitarian projects is especially about helping individuals who have found themselves in a difficult health or social situation. Within our humanitarian projects we have already supported legal entities such as health facilities, orphanages, and other social facilities. PSS also traditionally supports the League against Cancer and the Plamienok children’s hospice, just to mention two. Last year PSS also helped those hit by heavy flooding.

Within our support for housing, PSS finances projects each year to enhance the quality of the housing stock. This means that we support publication of specialised literature, holding of conferences and trainings as well as projects linked with protection of cultural monuments. Our support for public projects focuses especially on culture and sport.

TSS: What are some specific ways that your company pursues CSR?

IH: To give some examples of concrete activities, I can list education, environmental protection, charity and philanthropy, responsible marketing, and development and satisfaction of employees. Within education and under the project Children and Modern Communications Technologies we elevate awareness about risks stemming from use of mobile phones and the internet by children. Orange Slovensko also supports development of non-traditional and innovative forms of education at schools. We also run an educational portal, www.oskole.sk, containing information about subjects taught at the second degree of the basic schools as well as at secondary schools. The content is created by teachers themselves and is presented using modern and interactive methods.

Within the environmental area we support e-communication and reduction of energy usage, collection of non-functional telephones, batteries and outfits, environmental management of subcontractors and others. Our charity and philanthropy area includes activities carried out via the company’s Orange Foundation, long-term partnerships with organisations, mobile financial collections, raising money via mobile phone collections and so on.

We address the matter of responsible marketing via a unique project having a telecoms ombudsman to speak for the rights of our clients. Our employees can attend a number of training courses and lectures as well as sports activities and social programmes within our programme area for development and satisfaction of employees.

ZS: With our general approach we are trying to open various CSR themes and bring the attention of our employees to them. We do not care too much how many charity financial or non-financial collections we carry out or how many hours we devote to pro bono services or volunteering. Of course, these are also important activities whose results can have an immediate positive benefit. But we rather care for long-term effect and leaving our CSR footprint. We want to bring up future leaders who care for their environment and surroundings. We want the PwC mark to be connected with ethical and transparent operation in the market.

To be more specific, in March 2010 we launched the PwC Endowment Fund administered by the Pontis Foundation. This is our own initiative to support the right things in our surroundings. Money pooled in the fund is all used for grants within the employee grant programme Helping Hand. The precondition to submit a grant application is a recommendation on the part of a PwC employee. This enables us to secure transparent use of funds as well as to support projects which otherwise could be not carried out.

AG: Slovak Telekom (ST) has been active in supporting the community of the deaf to ease their integration into society for a ninth year now. During a project called the Seventh Sense, seven well-known personalities assumed the role of a deaf person in various life situations with the help of sign language. For the fourth time ST also held a learning programme for deaf people who want to start a business, just to mention a few programmes.

Via our endowment fund ST supports contemporary art, use of modern technologies by disadvantaged groups and innovations in education. ST uses its communications technologies and know-how for development of philanthropy in Slovakia as well. It is also active in protection of children using the internet.

Within corporate philanthropy ST has introduced several new activities: it was one of the first firms in Slovakia to motivate its employees to not only donate blood but also bone marrow; ST also planted 600 trees in the High Tatras to replace those swept away by the windstorms; and we rewarded creative teachers using modern information-communications technologies when teaching.

OL: Support for projects is not a one-man decision. In PSS, we have a humanitarian commission that regularly meets and an advisory board to the fund, which assesses the requests for help that the bank receives. Each applicant is informed about the decision on his or her application, while the final decision is taken by the PSS board of directors.

TSS: What are your inspirations for CSR in general as well as for individual CSR activities? Do your employees come forward with proposals?

IH: We regularly carry out surveys and evaluate any areas that show up as deficient or as having problems. Then we try to direct all our support and the whole palette of activities exactly into these areas. Thanks to our long experience we can target our help very effectively. Also the employees themselves can contribute to improvement in any of these areas, either by a good idea but also by their own activities. To support their engagement we annually open our specialised employee grant programme, which enables them to come up with a sound idea, carry out any activities either to help people, enhance their surroundings or start any other activities into which, apart from money, they also donate their own time.

ZS: At PwC it is precisely our people who arrive with ideas for CSR activities. We also have an internal CSR team – a group of volunteers from the ranks of our employees who have shown an interest in actively participating in our CSR activities. We meet once a month to assess past CSR activities and to plan new ones. Our CSR team features employees from the consultant position up to directors, all of whom come with their own initiatives and help to carry them out and all this is beyond their normal working time and duties.

AG: We carry out our CSR activities and projects in line with the CSR strategy and pillars of our parent company, Deutsche Telekom. Moreover we follow the slogan: ‘Talk to those to whom you are helping so that you can better help’. This is how our cooperation with the deaf community was born and developed even though they cannot use all our services.

As a telecoms operator we provide modern ITC services and thus our goal is to help where
information and access to it enables improvement in quality of life.

Employees also give us inspiration for help via the employee grant programme ‘We help the community’.

OL: PSS is a successful bank over the long term. Because our operation is localised in Slovakia only, we decided to return a portion of our success to Slovakia’s citizens and support those who are thrown upon the help of others. PSS takes inspiration especially from applications from legal entities as well as individuals who need help, but also in response to what is happening at the moment, for example help to people hit by the floods and contributions for the survivors of the soldiers who died during their return from the mission in Kosovo. In this respect, activities initiated by employees are much less numerous. Usually these include one-off contributions for purchase of teaching tools or to help people in a difficult life situation.

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Theme: Corporate Responsibility

Read more articles by the topic

Top stories

Economic restart after COVID-19 should be green

Slovakia’s plan for using money from the EU’s Recovery Fund, innovation potential and examples of green solutions and the challenge of renovating buildings are among the highlights of the latest Business Focus.

The Velux plant in Partizánske utilises 97 percent of waste from production.

Cabinet agrees on COVID screening

More details will be presented tomorrow.


More tips for outings in Bratislava during the lockdown

Walks along the Danube bank offer a feeling of being far from the city rush.

This place, part of Ovsištské Lúky (Ovsište Meadows) in Petržalka, is still Bratislava.

Roundup: Fairytale app that makes children read

An award-winning design by a Slovak architect and a trip to Zádielska dolina valley. Here’s your latest roundup.

A man wearing a face covering sits in an armchair on the snow-covered Main Street in Košice on January 13, 2021.