Many companies give money to various charities. That’s called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). thyssenkrupp Elevator does this as well but the company is going beyond CSR by implementing Human Social Responsibility (HSR). Instead of just giving money, the company’s employees are tutoring disadvantaged young people in how to get a job with Project SEED.
The company’s communications team is committed to promoting and advancing this exciting new approach to sustainable urbanization. Not through ropeless elevators or drone delivery – this time it’s all about person-to-person mentoring to develop the tools for social mobility. The new Perspectives e-magazine features the human stories behind Project SEED as well as other social responsibility activities of thyssenkrupp Elevator.
Meet Luis Ramos. He’s Head of Communications at thyssenkrupp Elevator. He’s also leading the team that is sowing and growing Project SEED, the company’s new global model for using its resources to achieve greater social balance and opportunity in cities.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Luis originally trained as an engineer. He became fascinated though by the power of communications and particularly by the many alternative ways that companies can promote their brands and products. He shared, “In a world of similarities, uniqueness is the only way to stand out, and being unique while helping those that need is the way to go.”
One project in particular made an impression: “A company I was working for was building a railroad line through a very poor neighborhood. There were some difficulties with the local community.” The lesson was simple: “The problems faded when the contractors started to assist and involve the community in the project. It was win-win for everyone, and that’s a very good way to do business.”
With Project SEED, the communications team is working to plant the “win-win” philosophy deep in the soil of corporate philanthropy. Luckily, the ground at thyssenkrupp Elevator has already been well prepared. Ramos noted: “For our employees, volunteering is as natural as making and maintaining elevators. We’re a very large company with facilities all over the world. And most of those facilities are already ‘giving back’ to the local community.”
Why Project SEED then? Ramos felt: “The company wanted to create a simple and inspiring role model for our social responsibility – something we could use anywhere in the world. The focus on education and training is also easily understandable because this is already a priority for our business. You could say that we’re a ‘learning organization’, and that’s part of what we can share with others.”
Sharing, in this case, means reaching out to young people who need help finding their way into the world of work. Ramos shared: “There is so much youth unemployment in the world! And lots of it is because many kids don’t know basic things about getting a job: things like how to prepare a CV or resume, how to behave in an interview, or even how to make a budget based on a regular income.”
Simple things, really, but they still need to be learned, and taught. “Some kids just don’t learn these things at home. Maybe their parents don’t have a job, or maybe the kids don’t have parents.” And who better to reach out to them than people who are experienced in the job market.
That’s the true heart of Project SEED. “It’s the human connection that can help these kids bridge to adulthood. So our people – who have real jobs – are taking their time to come to these kids, to notice them, to acknowledge that they exist and that they have value – to drive home the message that they really can get a job and be full and contributing members of society.”
The simple genius at the heart of Project SEED is employee involvement. Ramos believes: “Our biggest advantage is employee volunteers. We want to give them the opportunity and encouragement to be community activists. They have so many skills that they can share with these kids and our experience has been that they get something out of it as well. There is a deep satisfaction that comes from sharing with other people, and this satisfaction also generates new motivation and care for the company.”
Employee response has been positive. It helps that thyssenkrupp Elevator employees have a history of local engagement, and it also helps to have a partnership with such a respected global charity as SOS Children’s Villages. “SOS was originally set up to help war orphans and displaced kids and everyone has heard of them. The kick-offs we’ve had together in Colombia, Brazil, and India have really inspired our employees and are bringing more volunteers into the project. It’s exciting to be a part of something that is both so ambitious and so close to home!”
Project SEED is a long-term commitment for thyssenkrupp Elevator. Now in its pilot phase in Colombia, Brazil, and India, the project is set to grow and expand to other countries in the future.
As Ramos says, “Many companies are realizing that they can create a positive feedback loop – a virtuous circle – of good deeds and goodwill that ultimately benefits everyone including the company. Like I say, we can have a ‘win-win’ situation! And that’s a big part of how we’re going to make cities the best-ever places to live.”
Many companies give money to various charities as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The basic idea of CSR is that companies have a responsibility to contribute to society – beyond providing local employment and paying their taxes.
thyssenkrupp Elevator does all of those things, of course, but the company is going beyond CSR and implementing what many call Human Social Responsibility (HSR). HSR emphasizes the empowerment of employees to take an active role in making the world a better place by enabling them to contribute their time and skills outside the workplace.
Human social responsibility decentralizes the philanthropic activities of the company and makes space for the individual passion of local employees to flourish within a framework of structured assistance. HSR emphasizes a circular economy of giving, bringing advantages to local communities, employees, and the company itself.
Project SEED is thyssenkrupp Elevator’s name for its global cooperation with the YouthCan! initiative of SOS Children’s Villages. The project rests on four pillars:
The main beneficiaries of the Project SEED program are disadvantaged youths between the ages of 16 and 20. SOS Children’s Villages connects these young people with thyssenkrupp Elevator employees who meet with them regularly to teach, mentor, counsel, and assist them in overcoming challenges to becoming sustainable and responsible adult members of society.
The name of Project SEED is inspired by the company’s global network of internal training academies – the SEED campuses. The initiative is under the official sponsorship of CEO Andreas Schierenbeck, highlighting the importance of Project SEED within the corporation.
The Perspectives e-magazine is the new communications portal for Project SEED, as well as for other CSR/HSR activities in which thyssenkrupp Elevator is and will be involved. Project SEED is all about sharing and people-to-people assistance. So the main focus of Perspectives is on the human faces and stories that make up the project as well as reports on the ongoing process of implementation.
That means stories from around the world, tales of people learning the skills to better thrive in the modern world, and inspiring accounts of ordinary people – thyssenkrupp Elevator employees – making a difference in the lives of others. Perspectives: putting things in perspective, taking a different perspective, and – most of all – changing perspectives to create new hope for the future.
Image credits go to Ian Lopes
Indian boy; Image credits go to Patrick Wittmann
Indian girl (slider); Image credits go to Dominic Sansoni
African girl (slider); Image credits go to Joris Lugtigheid
Bulgarian boys (slider); Image credits go to Katerina Ilievska
Active in Brazil for 50 years, SOS Children’s Villages works for children through a variety of programs and initiatives. Areas of support include early childhood development, parenting, young mothers, youth employment, nutrition support, daycare/childcare and more.To the project