Friday, May 18, 2012

Learning CSR Lessons in Romania

Following my posts on the Value of Case Studies and the Ukraine Case Study contest, the third in this Case Study Trilogy is set against the backdrop of the Transylvanian Mountains and Count Dracula, who could probably have written several Case Studies but not necessarily about sustainability. This post takes us to Bucharest, home to 2.2 million people and the center of Romania's growing economy. It is also home to Dragos Dehelean, Managing Partner of Selenis, a PR  and Communications firm and CEO of ResponsabilitateSociala, a comprehensive portal for all things CSR in Romania. ResponsabilitateSociala is the driving force behind a two day annual event, presenting European CSR Lessons, or Case Studies, for the benefit of the local CSR practitioners, professionals, academics and NGO's. While I was unable to attend on Day One, I had a fabulous time on Day Two (16th May 2012).

The first part of the day was devoted to a panel discussion on community development with speakers from Petrom, Erste Bank Serbia, GlaxoSmithKline Romania, Raiffeisen Bank, and Fundatia Vodafone. All presented fascinating examples of the way they had developed their programs, and spoke frankly about the challenges, dilemmas and choices along the way. An audience of some hundred participants was highly engaged, and each presentation was met with several questions.

Mona Nicolici from Petrom described how  Petrom developed a new strategy which started with educating employees in Sustainability and forming ten action teams throughout the company's operations to support community empowerment programs.  Andrea Brbaklić from Erste Bank in Serbia described her company's program, called Centrifuge, to promote cultural decentralization, youth activism and prevent deviant behavior. Andreia Cucu of GlaxoSmithKline Romania talked about the company's  'The health of kids in the Danube Delta,' program, together with the Association Save the Danube and the Delta by which 80 percent of the kids in this poor and isolated area of Romania benefited from a free medical examination and a health campaign. Corina Vasile of Raiffeisen Bank described the bank's program of donating funds to NGO using social media tools. Finally, in this fascinating session, Elena Serban of the Vodafone Foundation explained how the global foundation provides grants for six-month professional volunteering opportunities, with fifteen people from Romania taking part this year.

The afternoon session was devoted to stakeholder engagement and ways in which companies interact with stakeholders. In this session, I presented a case study from my client comme il faut, an Israeli fashion house, and the way this company engages with different stakeholder groups and also leverages a much broader dialog in society to advance the position of women.

Here is my presentation:

What impressed me most about the day, however, was not only the high quality presentations and generosity of the presenters in sharing their approaches, but also the intense engagement of the audience who fully involved themselves in the debates that arose. Overall, there is a fine sustainability movement building momentum in Romania, and this is a pleasure to see. Kudos to Dragos Dehelean for making a formidable contribution.

As for me, I will be back in Bucharest next week, working with a client on their first Sustainability Report. Hope they haven't run out of ice cream.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices   Contact me via   on Twitter or via my business website (Beyond Business, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)


Bushra said...

This is a fantastic presentation Elaine. How proud you must be to have been a part of this amazing movement.It takes a rather contrarian view to women empowerment but it works!

Bushra said...

What a fantastic presentation and what a great movement. You must be so proud to have been a part of this amazing initiative.

elaine said...

Thanks Bushra for both comments :)

Bushra said...

hahahha Dont rub it in...I am new to this blogging thing :)

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