Saturday 16 October 2010

Taking the PAIN out of CSR

My son Nicholas has an odd shaped protrusion just under the right side of his ribcage. You can see it if he's lying on his back - we joke with him that it looks like he swallowed a hockey puck! This piece of hardware in Nick's abdomen is actually a computerized pain pump. Every five weeks or so, we go to the National Neurology Hospital in London where a nurse empties a syringe of muscle relaxant and spinal anaesthetic into a rubber port in the pump. The needle doesn't hurt too much, because we make sure that "magic cream", or Emla topical anaesthetic is applied to his skin beforehand. A tiny catheter runs from the pump under his skin to his spinal cord, where it connects by a tiny port that dispenses the medicine. I dread to think how Nicholas' days and nights would feel without this miraculous device.

The pump is made by a company called Medtronic. Yesterday, the company name caught my eye in a Globe and Mail article titled "Employees Make the Call in Picking Charity". The story described how some companies were fulfilling their corporate social responsibility objectives by doing more than just writing a cheque to a worthy charity. Employees would be given one day off every month to volunteer in their local community. But that's not all, Medtronic employees who volunteer 25 hours or more can apply to their employer for a $500 grant to the charity of their choice. Companies that participate in employee volunteering schemes are finding that active giving reaps big rewards. Glaxo Smith-Klein is one such corporation. The director of Corporate Social Responsibility there reports, "We know based on yearly tracking of employees that our commitment to supporting charities is a key driver in employee engagement. It's one of the top reasons why our employees love working for GSK."

I am thrilled to see that some major companies have visionaries at the helm of their CSR programming. But I'll be over the moon when those employees are given the same incentives to help care for relatives or friends with disability or age related infirmity. Now, THAT's a good idea!

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