Having my own opinion about helping the society and receiving awards for it
In the begging, when I took the responsibility of the CSR projects for SAP Labs Bulgaria, I was completely against applying for awards and publicly speaking for these types of activities. I really disliked some of the companies who did something very small and then created a mass campaign to brag about it. For me volunteering and charity work speaks for itself and it was enough to see the gratitude in the eyes of the people who benefit from it or the sparking light in the eyes of the employees who contributed. And I was defending this way of thinking quite a lot. We do what we do to help, not to get publicity, credit out of it or “do PR”.
And there came the change
The fist change happened when one of our partners applied for an award and the organizers were chasing us to give us the award. They were very pleased with the program we were doing for several years now. Initially I was about to decline the award. But the partner asked me passionately to join the awards ceremony too. I went on the event and I was overwhelmed from the gratitude of the organizers, the way they spoke so high about the merits of our program and the benefits the community received. So, a little of my tough opining changed, because it was also the owners chance to thank us, and when I’m against it I deprive them from this opportunity.
The other change came when our office did a record high number of volunteering hours. We had11 217 hours for one year in more than 50 initiatives and more than 65% of which were initiatives of volunteering with skills and knowledge, contributing in education for kids and young people in Bulgaria. I tried to give the volunteers all my gratitude but, in this case, I decided that receiving some of the valuable CSR awards in Bulgaria will be important to recognize their passion and work for that year.
Applying for awards is not an easy job
We sat down with my PR & Communications colleague Lili and looked at all the possibilities to apply for CSR-related awards. We created five applications, covering different aspects of our CSR initiatives, that were recognized. We provided numerous evidence for the results and the programs themselves. We had to pick and choose the best mixture of activities for each application, as the topic was more focused, or even the number of words were limited so we could not write everything.
And the awards are a fact
The results were amazing – we have received six prestigious awards for Corporate Social Responsibility:
- First place in the “Work for the society” category of the Forbes magazine awards;
- Second place in the “Investor in society” category for the “Knowledge for Success” project, organized by the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBFL);
- The TimeHeroes Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Policy; TimeHeroes is the biggest platform for organized volunteering in Bulgaria;
- Golden sign “Responsible company – responsible employees” by BCause;
- Award for Team who promotes and develops effective donation practices at the workplace by BCause;
- Highest contribution through employees’ voluntary work” by the Donation forum in Bulgaria.
Receiving even more appreciation
That’s right we applied for five and got six awards, because one of the organizations recognized the whole CSR core team that organized and supported these initiatives to come true.
I also felt really proud when we went to the events with the colleagues and the jury and people were so enthusiastic to learn more about the programs, the results and how we managed to involve so many colleagues to contribute.
At that point in time it started to make sense for me – sharing what we do in CSR when we already have meaningful initiatives, inspired employees and grateful recipients, this is not a PR, it is a way to lead by example and stimulate all the other companies in Bulgaria to see that good things can happen, impact can be made and you only need employees with big hearts to make a real change.
The next year we decided we apply only for two awards, letting other companies have their chance to share and be recognized for the good they do. And guess what we still received three awards, apparently one of our partners decided to apply for a joined application and we won together with highest score. ?
These awards recognize not only our SAP Labs Bulgaria but SAP’ culture to encourage volunteering and our vision to ensure a sustainable future for society, our customers, and our company.
Monika Kovachka-Dimitrova, CSR Lead, SAP, Bulgaria