Intro to CSR
The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility, also known as Corporate Sustainability, and Corporate Conscience, is a familiar one these days. However, for those who aren’t aware, CSR is an initiative that a firm volunteers to take, aimed at furthering social good.
These actions go beyond mandatory things such as following the rule of law, and seeking a profit. They are guided by a company’s ethical policies, and are there solely to benefit stakeholders and the environment, outside of the standard reasons for a business’ existence.
At Relocation Africa, we have been expanding our CSR initiatives over the 26 years we have conducted business across Africa.
For the past 5 years, we have supported a local charity called Generation of Leaders Discovered (or GOLD). GOLD believes that Africa’s greatest resource is its youth. The charity exists to support youth education, through peer education programs, and assist in creating the leaders of tomorrow.
One of the Directors at Relocation Africa has sat on the board of GOLD for numerous years, providing consistent knowledge and insight to support their growth strategy. In this way, supporting youth empowerment has become a cornerstone of our CSR focus. We are currently in the process of developing new ways to help GOLD youth, such as hosting them at our head office for mock interviews, to help in preparing them for entering the working world.
We maintain a continuous drive to recycle at our head office in Cape Town. This includes motivating team members to separate their waste and recycle whenever possible, as well as having dedicated recycling bins and signs around the office. We take our recycling to Oasis Recycling Depot, close to the office. The Oasis Association, which runs the depot, uses its income to support those in South Africa with mental disabilities. They do so through support workshops, day centers, and group homes. We are proud to be a part of this initiative to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, while also having a positive impact on reducing waste to protect our natural environment.
Throughout 2018, and to a lesser degree to this day, the City of Cape Town implemented strict water restriction policies for residents and businesses, due to one of the worst droughts the region has ever experienced. With far lower than average annual rainfall, our dams almost emptied, and everyone had to come together to avoid what was eventually called “Day Zero”, where we would run out of water and have to queue for rations of trucked in water supplies. Fortunately, this did not happen, and we’re enjoying normal winter rain at present, however we came close.
And coming that close reinforced our water saving policies at Relocation Africa. We have signs around the office, in kitchens and bathrooms, encouraging our team to use water sparingly. We also set up a clever rainwater storage and pump system, which, with the turn of a lever, can supplement our draw from City water.
In our yard, we have what’s commonly called a Jojo – a large storage tank that collects rainwater from the guttering. It then stores the water, and we can pump it up to our restrooms in the office, thereby using less of the City’s water, which is often constrained. Our plants outside are also watered using a conservative drip irrigation system, rather than with high pressure hoses. Considering how much of an impact global warming is having on the climate, we consider this supplementation an essential part of helping the environment and future generations.
Another area of infrastructure constraint in South Africa is energy supply. Most of our residential and commercial electricity comes from our national utility company, Eskom. Eskom is responsible for generation and supply, and has, for many years, been unable to properly keep up with demand, and maintain a profit.
This has unfortunately resulted in what we know as load-shedding, across the country, every few years. Neighborhoods are divided up into energy sectors, and electricity supply is shut off on rotation for a few hours, so that a total blackout doesn’t occur. This happened most recently just a few months ago, and we are not beyond it occurring again soon.
To protect our office, reduce strain on the national electricity grid, and give back to the environment, we have installed a sophisticated solar power generation system at our head office. Since early 2014, our office has featured 25 photovoltaic panels on its roof, positioned to harness the most sunlight possible during daylight hours. These panels are connected to a smart charge controller, and the power is distributed throughout our building. Electricity usage can be monitored via a mobile app, which provides us with usage history, so that we can track our conservation efforts.
In addition to this, we also have battery units that keep the solar system running. In the event of a power outage, the batteries will keep our essential systems running. To date, we have converted 40.7 MWh of solar energy into usable electricity. Making use of clean energy is part of the environmental section of our overall CSR initiative.
Another area where we try to reduce our impact on the environment is through the goal of a paperless office, which we are gradually working towards. We encourage team members to avoid printing whenever possible, rather making use of digital minutes and notes, and saving and sharing documents in the cloud. As part of this, we have begun using Google Drive and Dropbox Paper. The physical paper that we do end up using naturally feeds into our recycling drive.
We are lucky enough to have a team member who is responsible for maintenance, who has very green fingers. As a result, we have a rooftop vegetable garden that puts out organic, seasonal produce for our team to use if they wish. This not only results in our planting more flora, but also reduces our buying packaged goods at the store.
We recently decided to start a monthly litter pick up drive, whereby we plan to get any interested team members together and go for a walk around our area to collect any litter lying around. By doing this consistently, we will be doing our part to keep Cape Town neighborhoods clean, and perhaps if we’re noticed, others will join in. We also encourage our team members to take their families out over the weekend to pick up some litter, as a bonding activity, and to help the environment. The Municipality does a good job of keeping our streets clean, but they can only cover a certain area every so often, and there’s nothing quite like a bit of community engagement to help out and save costs.
Nelson Mandela International Day is an annual celebration of the legacy of Madiba, with events taking place in South Africa and elsewhere. Each year, on the day, South Africans are encouraged to give back to their community through 67 minutes of community service, representing the 67 years former President Mandela fought for social justice.
Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to make an impact. At Relocation Africa, we make sure to take part in this important form of civic engagement every year. In years past, we have handed out food to the homeless in our area, as well as partnered with local charities. In 2019, we decided to split into two teams, and do two different things.
We made soup and handed it out with rolls to those in need in the area around our office, which was especially well received considering the rain on the day. We also went out in teams to pick up litter in the area. We plan to continue this form of annual community service going forward, and develop new ideas to help out as a group.
We recently decided that our next step to grow our CSR initiative will be to support U-turn, an organization registered with the UK Stewardship and American Fund for Charities, to further help those in need in South Africa. We will be buying vouchers from U-turn and leaving them at our reception, for team members to take and hand out to the homeless. These vouchers can be taken to U-turn outlets around our city and exchanged for food or clothing, as per the individuals’ needs.
Whether it be water saving, clean power, sustainable food, going paperless, recycling, city cleanups, or supporting local charities, at Relocation Africa, we’re determined to do our part.
These initiatives come together to form our overall CSR strategy, which, as a whole, is aimed at operating sustainably, preserving our natural environment, and giving back to our local community whenever we can.
We hope that sharing this with you has taught you a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes at Relocation Africa, and perhaps even inspired you to take on some CSR initiatives of your own. Even if they’re small, collectively we can make a big impact.
Recently, Graebel recognized all these efforts by giving us a Certificate of Appreciation as part of their 2019 Environmental Stewardship awards.
We aim to continue to make giving back to the community, and operating in a sustainable manner, focuses at our head office, and across Africa.
For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
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