Our Indian joint venture, IndiaFirst Life Insurance, was launched in 2009, with two of the country’s strongest public sector banks, Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank.
Here, Subhash Menon, Chief People Officer, IndiaFirst, talks about how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is being developed in their business.
CSR, in the Indian context is one of our least understood initiatives, it’s mostly taken as philanthropy. However, it's fast becoming a business necessity.
The business case for CSR is gaining ground and companies are realising that what is good for employees and the community, also promotes long-term business interests. IndiaFirst too, perceives CSR as a proposition for long-term sustainability.
Our first step towards CSR is focused on our customers.
Insurance as a product is sold with an element of sentiment, where customers are either saving for a rainy day or investing to better one’s family life. We ensure that every customer makes an informed purchase, we don't withhold any information.
As the saying goes, ‘charity begins at home’. Be it coming up with employee friendly policies or just lending a helping hand, IndiaFirst has always been at the forefront for the one in need.
We have set up a CSR Forum to channel the efforts of employees, agents and distributors into community development programs.
We have recently:
- provided a medical van for the slum dwellers of Mumbai
- donated money for the medical costs of a young child who is suffering from congenital heart decease
- organised a nationwide blood donation camp, on Foundation Day. The camp ensured that the organisation came together as one, to do a good deed. From the CEO down, employees volunteered to participate.
The Mumbai Medicare van.
A celebration at IndiaFirst is incomplete without involving an element of CSR. During the festive season, we as Indians spread smiles through gifts. By arranging for stalls organised by Non Government Organisations (NGO’s), in the IndiaFirst office, we ensured our celebration was enhanced, and we fulfilled our responsibility towards CSR.
- CRY - (Child Rights and You) Works with underprivileged children and their families in India by restoring their rights.
- HelpAge - Raises resources to protect the rights of India's elderly and provide relief to them through various interventions.
- Creative Handicrafts – a social enterprise striving to empower disadvantaged women of the slum communities of Mumbai.
- Tej Gyan Foundation - popularly known as Happy Thoughts, with the objective of creating a highly evolved society by spreading happiness and wisdom.
Apart from working with NGOs, IndiaFirst has also set up two informal initiatives to help develop employees and the community:
- When it’s an employee’s birthday they are encouraged to contribute to a charity of their choice.
- Employees who arrive late for meetings, or disturb a meeting with their mobile phone are persuaded to open up their wallets and contribute to charity.
These two initiatives, whilst generating funds for a good cause, are also becoming popular as employee engagement initiatives.
We also have an ‘internal kitty’ to support employees who come from the weaker section of society. For example, one of our driver’s needed funds to take care of his ailing Father. Although the driver was working with IndiaFirst on a contractual basis and was not covered under the company’s mediclaim policy, IndiaFirst immediately paid the requisite funds to him.
CSR at IndiaFirst does not end here. The immediate future for CSR at IndiaFirst will involve:
- Go Green project –limiting our use of paper.
- Health is wealth - Employees will take part in a wellness survey, we’ll also launch a one-stop-shop providing health solutions to employees and their families.
- Going Direct - We hope to design a value added, off the shelf product, that ensures that a percentage of the sales proceeds go to a social cause.
Subhash Menon, Chief People Officer, IndiaFirst