BENGALURU: Manju Karthik looks forward to days when he can spend time as a volunteer at Akshaya Patra Foundation. As he helps in the foundation’s mid-day meal preparation by cleaning grains, dehusking coconuts or serving food to wide-eyed children at schools, he feels gratified.
And he is able to do so as his company, NetApp India, where he is a technical staffer, encourages him and his colleagues to participate in social work. What’s more, volunteer days are treated as paid holidays.
Value comes from voluntary work, and not in doleouts, says Deepak Viswesvariah, vice president and MD of the data management and storage firm. It’s a motto he lives by and encourages NetAppians to do so too. The company has ensured its corporate social responsibilities don’t stop at mere funding but involve full participation of employees.
The company is one of the patrons of Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal schemes. As part of its Voluntary Time Off programme (VTO), employees are encouraged to volunteer for social work by taking five days of paid leave every year. “We do not enforce any activity on employees. There is no restriction too on the number of days of volunteer work,” says Visveswaraiah, adding, “We’ve been partnering with many others for lakes clean-ups, teaching and building toilets in government schools. Such VTOs foster better working relationships among employees.”
NetApp has also tied up with NGOs like Parikrama, Dream a Dream Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity. Employees pick what they want to do and in which sector — education, healthcare, hygiene or sanitation. At least 30 employees are engaged in social activity in a month. Last year, over 300 employees contributed 2,360 VTO hours for Akshaya Patra. They help in the pre-processing of meals by cutting vegetables and cleaning grains and holding interactive workshops with the students.
NetApp’s partnership with Akshaya Patra began in 2014 and the company has put up a comprehensive programme to help in the midday meal scheme leading to retention of children in schools. It sponsors about 3,000 mid-day meals a day apart from investing in insulated containers.
Sundeep Talwar, Chief Marketing Officer of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, believes their partnership with NetApp has added more value to the programme. “The volunteering slots are full and employees are signing off to work in the kitchens, schools and the campus. Last year, we had more than 350 volunteers from this company alone.”