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Does business need charity and social projects? ICL Services answers
More and more celebrities and large international and Russian companies are engaged in charity, developing their own and supporting other people’s social projects. Charity marathons on social media, fundraising campaigns, even recreational activities focus on helping socially disadvantaged segments of the population. It is no longer a rarity when paying for an e-ticket for a business conference or a sporting event to see an offer to support a charitable foundation or donate towards the treatment of a specific child emerge.
Why do companies with a strong marketing strategy go for it? We’ll answer this question using the example of ICL Services, a large international IT company.
- To create a positive image for customers and partners.
- To find talented employees
Social projects help the company enhance its positive image in the eyes of customers and partners. First of all, it is an investment in the moral and ethical sphere. ICL Services provides services to more than 80 customers from 30 countries and increases the volume of services every year. Many customers are foreign and global companies from the financial and industrial sectors and retail. Their corporate ethics value socially responsible partners. There is also an economic element. The more often the company’s charitable projects are mentioned, the more attractive a partner the company becomes. This is because the company can only allocate resources to social projects if it’s performing well (remember the episode with the observatory in the book «The Titan» by Theodore Dreiser!).
The image of a company that runs charity projects is important for young people looking for a job. Members of Generation Y and, to a larger degree, Generation Z aim to find an employer who will help impact the world and act as a volunteer or a social project manager. More than just routine business activities.
They find that kind of work at ICL Services. The company’s main initiators of charitable and social projects are the employees themselves. They generate a project idea and implement it with a team of co-workers who are fellow volunteers. In 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone, about 30 social projects were implemented that had an impact on about 1,000 people.
Social projects in which employees of ICL Services participate
ICL Services’ experience with social projects is large-scale. They include:
- supporting retirees and workers with many years of service (gifts on the 9th of May, hosting gatherings of retirees/workers, excursions);
- providing assistance to orphanages and nursing homes (New Year’s gifts for the elderly, visits to the Duslyk orphanage, assistance to a correctional school in Derbyshki, Kazan);
- sponsoring a community kitchen in Kazan;
- providing assistance to an animal shelter in Stolbishchi, Tatarstan;
- holding Blood Drives twice a year;
- holding the charity fair in Gymnasium No. 19 in Kazan;
- and dozens of other events.
Every year, the company holds events around the New Year season to support orphanages and nursing homes. The offices post Christmas tree notes with the children’s or seniors’ wishes. Each employee chooses one and buys a gift. In 2018, two such events took place. ICL Services employees fulfilled the wishes of 100 residents of a nursing home and 100 children from an orphanage. The company’s event coordinator was an engineer.
Popular events that have already become traditions are ones dedicated to helping animals, which were created by volunteers from the marketing department. They have a funny name—Sweets for Kitty Treats—but mean business. Employee volunteers prepare sweets at home and bring them to a bake sale at the office. The sweets don’t have a fixed price, but all donated proceeds go to help the animal shelter in Stolbishchi, Tatarstan. In 2018, the shelter received donations of 30,000 rubles, 120 kg of food, and animal hygiene products. Hands-on help, such as cleaning the kennels and walking dogs, is very popular with the staff and is useful for the shelter, where there are never enough helpers.
Bake sale to support an animal shelter
Event initiators are not only ordinary employees but also company executives. ICL Services Executive Director Ruslan Vagizov ran a marathon distance to support children from Tatarstan undergoing treatment for cerebral palsy. The website Sdelai.Org helped draw attention to his deed. In a month and a half, it collected 320,000 rubles to help the children. Many of the 195 donors who participated in the fundraising are ICL Services employees and even some of the company’s customers and partners.
Social projects don’t just provide direct assistance to those in need. After all, «Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.» Or, in other words, helping people to learn and choose a vocation. That’s why ICL Services conducts free educational programs for students, schoolchildren, and even preschool-age children. Cooperation with leading universities, free educational projects, scholarships for talented students, and support for student IT competitions help develop the potential of the region’s youth.
IT puzzles for preschoolers
ICL Services employees have developed a puzzle about IT professions. This is a unique project that tells children—in a playful way, using accessible language—what their parents do for a living. 1,000 sets of the puzzle were realeased, and they showed that the IT industry is not limited to programmers. It includes many other professions, such as system engineers, designers, information security managers, technical support specialists, project managers, and others. The company hopes this will help someone make the right choice for their future career path after school.
«Choose IT!» puzzle
In 2018, the company launched a project for the vocational orientation of 9th- and 10th-grade schoolchildren at Kazan Gymnasium No. 19. The goal of Project 19 is to show the diversity of IT fields and guide schoolchildren in choosing their future profession. As part of the curriculum, ICL Services employees give courses on information security, technical support, ITIL, lean manufacturing, HR processes, machine learning, system administration, and IT administration. They also organize field trips to the company’s office, give presentations, play business games, and host meetings with employees.
Colleges and universities
The company partners with the region’s leading universities to:
- organize free educational courses at KFU and KNRTU-KAI;
- annually sponsor the student projects competition I-TEAM (KNRTU-KAI) and the Information Security Olympiad (KNRTU-KAI);
- participate in university events (job fairs at KFU, KNRTU-KAI, Programmer’s Day hosted by KFU’s Institute of Computational Mathematics and Information Technologies), meetings with parents and applicants to suggest what they should do to get well-paid and promising work in the future.
ICL Services contributes to developing students’ skills, which means developing the region as a whole.
ICL Services Schools
ICL Services Schools are free short-term educational projects for undergraduate students, graduates, and professionals who have decided to change their profession to IT. The goal of the project is to provide young specialists with basic IT knowledge sufficient to start working in the field in a short time (from 3 weeks to 2 months). Instructors are experts working at ICL Services, who are able to share knowledge and experience in popular technologies with students.
In 2018–2019, 13 Schools were organized focusing at various fields: Service Desk, Project Management, UNIX, information security, workplace infrastructure, etc. More than 200 young people studied there. Studying at Schools does not impose employment obligations. After studying, students can work at ICL Services or, having received a certificate, find a job at another company. However, more than 50% of the school’s students come for paid internships or are employed at ICL Services.
Studies for seniors
ICL Services does not limit academic work to a youth audience. A team of ICL Services volunteers is currently working on a project to train pensioners in computer literacy. They will learn how to work with computers and the Internet, as well as protect themselves against fraudsters who often use retirees’ lack of IT knowledge for financial crimes and stealing personal data.
Any company is first and foremost the people who work there. ICL Services is committed to bringing the best people in the industry to its team, in terms of both human and professional qualities. The best people tend to make the world around them brighter and help others just because they need help.
Charity and social projects are gradually changing the world for children and the elderly, schoolchildren and students, people who need blood, and even animals rescued from the streets. That is why employee volunteers invest time and effort in them, and why ICL Services supports their efforts.
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