Lívia Gaľová: CSR activities give back to the region and community

A communication specialist dealing with CSR talks about strategy, volunteering and the activities planned for this year.

Lívia GaľováLívia Gaľová

Social responsibility and related activities are often perceived as a form of aid provided by companies not often linked to business. However, the activities of one of the biggest IT employers in Slovakia, Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Slovakia (DT ITSO SK), prove that the company CSR goes hand in hand not only with the values and company culture, but also with the business strategy, services and products being developed. Lívia Gaľová, a communication specialist who deals with CSR as part of DT ITSO SK talks about strategy, volunteering and the activities planned for this year.

Which activities are part of the CSR strategy at DT ITSO SK?

All activities planned for this year are primarily based on 4 central pillars. These were developed by DT ITSO SK at the beginning of 2020, with the aim of increasing the consistency of activities. This is why we have decided to focus on four areas, namely education, environmental protection, social innovation and philanthropy. However, philanthropy in particular can also be applied to the other aforementioned areas. This year we are working on activities that have suddenly acquired a new dimension. We are also directing our attention towards the area of environmental protection, where many different projects are being developed.

What do these social responsibility activities mean to DT ITSO SK?

Social responsibility is part of our strategy and culture. At our company we believe that CSR goes hand in hand with business and the ingrained values we live by, and which are part of our brand. The most important thing is that we use social responsibility activities to contribute to the development of the region and country, and in doing so create an added value to that which is offered. So, just like the region helps create opportunities for our work and business, we too want to help the region and community. This is when these activities are the most meaningful.

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Social responsibility activities are part of your business. How do you carry them out in practice?

CSR activities are not restricted to the donation of finances or material items. At DT ITSO SK we have a many skilled colleagues, who keep their eyes open, listen to communities and are able to identify shortcomings thanks to which we are able to, for example, develop different apps. The team that deals with Research and Development is full of ideas. Thanks to our apps created by our colleagues in development teams – e.g., Cognity Care (3D virtual reality, which helps people suffering from mental health issues, Ed.) or the Zvedavo app (discovering nature through the use of augmented reality, Ed.), we have helped the community by using new modern technologies. We are glad that at DT ITSO SK we can contribute with what we live for and work with on a daily basis. In this way, all parties can benefit.

Which projects do your employees participate in most often?

We are lucky to have active and proactive employees interested in volunteering. Oftentimes they even come up with their own ideas and they are an example of the saying that when you have an idea and passion for what you do, then nothing is impossible. They like to participate in different calls, but among the most popular is definitely the mentoring of students. In this regard we cooperate with different organisations such as Digital Skills or with the Carpathian Foundation. Our employees like to take part in projects where they can pass down their knowledge and skills to the younger generation.

You mentioned environmental protection. What activities do you engage in regarding this sphere?

This topic is very important and consistent. First of all, it is necessary to do a lot of research and learn how things work, how to integrate them into practice and how to further talk about them. Therefore, we have created a workgroup in the company that deals with green topics and related activities. The workgroup has a few subgroups, such as reporting- how much CO2 is produced by our activities, etc. We meet fortnightly and discuss potential activities we could organise.

This year we are focusing on electromobility. We are currently testing electric company cars – we are testing their range; we are also conducting a survey of the infrastructure in towns, finding out if they can also handle business trips. Micromobility is one of the most discussed topics for us this year. The already established practice of lending out bicycles at the company is being extended by an offer of electric scooters that will also be available to the wider public.

The building where our company will be located is 100% green; we use energy from renewable energy sources. Alongside the owners, we are actively working on the idea of creating a green roof and using rainwater. Our volunteers use their own initiative to come up with suggestions, which are subsequently often implemented into practice. For example, for Global Recycling Day in March, one of our colleagues organised an event where she invited a civic association that specialised in this topic. They prepared an online lecture for us, which was attended by over 100 employees. Slowly, with enthusiasm and passion for these projects, we are moving further and further, thanks to which we are also increasing awareness about this issue.

You also are also engaged in volunteering. Did your company take part in the aid for refugees from the Ukraine?

This topic resonated greatly with our employees, just as it probably did with all of us. When the conflict erupted, they themselves came to ask where and when they could help. The coordination team created a simple registration system where employees could register themselves for eight-hour shifts, whether at the border or in cooperation with the Košice Self-governing Region or Košice City, where our help was extended to the town where we are located. We are in contact with the registration centre, which has moved from the border to Michalovce, as well as with different schools.

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How many people took part in this aid?

I have to admit that we have never before registered such a large volunteering participation rate. There were over 100 volunteers who registered to help right at the location, and a number of people helped with the coordination and administration. We registered more than 200 eight-hour shifts.

What CSR project resonated at DT ITSO SK the most, and what is your vision?

We are very proud of the number of employees who joined the volunteering activities related to Ukraine. We are also proud of the project from the pandemic period, which our employees took part in and for which we received the Srdce na dlani award. Our employees were part of the information hotline for the Košice Self-governing Region, which motivated the elderly to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Strongly negative circumstances that impact everyone thankfully have a positive effect. Everyone wants to join in and help think of ways to further contribute to the cause.

Our vision for the future is clear. We are planning to spread awareness about social responsibility among DT ITSO SK employees, but also the wider public; and this year environmental protection will be prominently featured. It is useful to know about the environmental problems we are facing, to learn how to talk about them and think about how we as individuals can help.

This article has been brought to you byDeutsche Telekom IT Solutions Slovakia .

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