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Employee Volunteerism: The Infosys Way

By Aruna Newton, Associate Vice President and Head – Global Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability Reporting and Governance, Infosys.

At Infosys we don’t just believe in building a sustainable organization, we also believe in molding our employees into responsible citizens. Besides investing in societal causes and running large change initiatives that impact the larger world, influencing the lifestyle of our employees and inspiring them to become change agents in the society is an important facet of our social strategy. The founders and senior members lead from the forefront and actively participate in volunteering activities.

Supporting employee groups

We have well established clubs in all our development centers in India. These clubs are registered trusts and are operated by the employees independently. A corpus is maintained by the free-will contributions of employees working in the center. The group identifies local projects for funding. Hundreds of volunteers from the local development center actively participate in these projects on weekends or after office hours contributing their skills and talents for the benefit of the society.

A case in point is the ‘My School’ initiative anchored by a group of self-motivated employees from our Pune development center. Encouraged and supported by the senior leadership, the idea was seeded by our then Executive Vice Chairman, S. Gopalakrishnan, when he urged the volunteers to help the villages in and around Hinjewadi, Pune. The core team started working with a local school by providing raincoats and school bags to the children but soon they realized that basic amenities like benches and desks were absent in the school. Students would have to sit on the bare floor which would get terribly cold during winter and the monsoons. The leaking roofs would make life even more difficult during the rains. With support from the Infosys Foundation, the group donated benches and desks to the school. It also felt the need for a proper school building with basic sanitation facilities to arrest the drop-out rate among children, especially girls. Over 15,000 employees from the Pune DC and Infosys Foundation contributed towards the building of the school with 10 classrooms, computer lab, pantry, staff room and a library. The overall cost of the building was US $230,000 and more than half of it came from employee contributions. The core team, consisting of 14 people and over 100 volunteers, worked tirelessly for two years to make the dream a reality.

Another flagship program is the “Note book drive” run by the volunteers at Bangalore DC. The program focuses on providing yearly supplies of notebooks and study materials to underprivileged students in rural schools. A humble initiative that was started by a small group of 20 volunteers about a decade ago has become a large change initiative today with over 2000 volunteers. The program reaches over 50,000 children each year.

Supporting individuals

Infosys also supports individual volunteering efforts of our employees. Besides supporting employee-led CSR and eco groups at our campuses, we also have the ‘I, Citizen of the Earth’ (iCoE) program to support the development of social leadership competencies and to promote responsible citizenship among our employees. We have internal forums to encourage our employees to share their volunteering experiences and this provides the impetus to the rest of the employees in the organization.

Another unique initiative at Infosys is the ‘community empathy’ program that allows employees who are passionate about volunteering to take up to 6 months off from work to pursue community work which could include

  • working with charitable organizations / governmental / para-governmental organizations / industry forums / other regulatory organizations in the area of education, health or any other area of general public interest as decided by the selection committee panel of the company
  • Teach full time for the period of one year at any of the approved engineering colleges and management institutions as published on the Community Empathy Sabbatical portal.
  • Join approved Research & Development (R&D) organizations for taking up non-commercial research activities for public welfare and in public interest

This Policy has been created to support employees who wish to pursue their interest in community service by providing them with leave of absence as well as a fellowship stipend through the sabbatical.

Celebrating volunteering

At Infosys we celebrate excellence in everything we do, including the volunteering efforts of our employees. The annual awards for excellence at Infosys also has a special award for CSR. We also don’t miss and opportunity to feature our volunteers and their efforts on our internal TV/Radio/blogs and other communication channels through the year.