How can businesses make sure that overseas CSR programmes really are benefiting everyone involved? A new strategic partnership between destination management company, Madventure International and Newcastle-based Gradvert has the answer.
In April 2018, a team of 16 staff from Siemens Corporate Finance Audit travelled to Kirima, Kenya, to build flushing toilets, sports and play equipment for the village’s primary school. The programme provided leaders in the organisation with the opportunity to develop new skills, enhance relationships and benefit the business while also benefiting society.
The value to the local community were clear: by the end of the two weeks, the 420 pupils at St Paul’s primary school had access to clean, safe sanitation and new sports facilities. But how can the impact on individual Siemens staff, teams, and the wider organisation be measured?
While Siemens’ partnership with destination management company Madventure International, which organises annual overseas development programmes, has been in place for seven years, this was the first year that Madventure worked in partnership with Newcastle-based Gradvert to measure the impact of the trip.
Gradvert specialises in improving business performance by improving people, and has formed a strategic partnership with Madventure International to offer tailored CSR leadership, training and development programmes overseas.
Gradvert’s diagnostic tool offered a 360° approach to measuring business impact, using a mixture of pre and post-trip interviews to record progress made towards Siemens’ medium and long term goals. Qualitative and quantitative data demonstrated how Siemens team members worked towards personal and corporate objectives and how they will utilise the experience back in the workplace.
Michaela Reaney, Managing Director of Gradvert said: “Measuring the success of projects like this is key. By bringing together Madventure’s expertise in planning overseas projects, and Gradvert’s knowledge of developing people, we have created a model for CSR programmes which clearly demonstrates the impact on a business and its people. The overall aim of the group was to contribute to the wellbeing of the community in Kirima while also building opportunities to improve teamwork, leadership and communication skills. For Siemens overall, a mixture of tangible and intangible benefits were measured, including the ability to attract future talent, boosts to employee morale, and staff members developing new capabilities.
The team set to work building foundations and walls to create a new septic tank for the school and two more buildings were built to accommodate 12 toilets. All works were carried out manually: digging and removing earth with a human chain system; unloading truckloads of sand, stone and steel; mixing concrete; and transporting building materials around the site in order to complete the building work on time.
The team also went the extra mile, fundraising 15,000 to also create football, volleyball and netball pitches for the school. A welder (one of 43 local people employed during the project) built goals and nets and the new facilities were put to the test with a sports event with the volunteers and the pupils.
At the end of the two weeks the 360° diagnostic tool also pinpointed opportunities to further align future CSR programmes with the organisation’s core values and extend the benefits of such programmes once employees are back in their roles.
“Too often we work with those we know, said one of the volunteers after the trip had been completed, “These past two weeks I’ve worked with new people. It was refreshing and inspiring.