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Corporate Social Responsibility at ICICI Lombard

Posted by - Sanjeev Mantri, Executive Director
August 20 2019

Corporate Social Responsibility may be a relatively newly-coined term, but India’s overtures towards the concept of ‘social responsibility’ go back more than two millennia. It was Emperor Ashoka, the ruler of much of this sub-continent in the 3rd century BCE or roughly 2,300 years ago, who had set up multiple veterinary hospitals across his kingdom.

Our journey towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) started eight years ago in 2011 but the formal launch happened three years later on October 15, 2014, when the ICICI Lombard board approved of the company’s CSR policy.

Since then, ICICI Lombard has steadfastly committed itself to CSR and this forms an integral part of our activities. With an objective to proactively support socio-economic development, we have short-listed two principal areas for the CSR roadmap: Road Safety and Preventive Healthcare. Let me first explain the Road Safety project.

Road Safety is the flagship CSR activity for us. Within its ambit, we run multiple programmes. The first being Ride to Safety.

Ride to Safety

Before going into the details of the programme, let me explain the context and the importance of this initiative. In India, more than 5,000 children below the age of 14 lose their lives due to road accidents involving two-wheelers – the highest among all vehicles – every year. Scant respect for traffic rules – including not wearing helmets, driving dangerously at high speeds, and jumping red lights – are some of the main reasons behind these unfortunate yet avoidable mishaps.

In September 2015, ICICI Lombard started a unique CSR initiative ‘Ride to Safety’ – aimed at making roads safer for children riding as pillion riders on two-wheelers. The programme aimed to create a mass awareness as every individual was vulnerable to road accidents.

Towards this objective, we adopted a multi-tier strategy to raise awareness. First, we decided to co-opt children as influencers. Next, we organised road-safety related workshops for groups of children from economically weaker families, whose parents owned two-wheelers. The workshops highlighted the greater vulnerability of children in road accidents; they, for example, may get thrown over a longer distance in case of collisions – given their lighter body weight. Thus, wearing a helmet at all times was absolutely critical. In these customised direct contact programmes, we gave away proper ISI-marked helmets – especially designed for 9–13 year-olds.

We were confident that the three-way combination – of making children aware of general road-safety rules, them becoming conscious of their own vulnerability, and availability of quality helmets – would turn them into crusaders against road safety violations. We focused on the young generation as not only are children most receptive to such initiatives but also in the long-run, this will bring about a sustainable change as these children become responsible.

We also organised on-ground events, where enthusiastic parents and children on two-wheelers – all wearing helmets – participated in road rallies. We have so far organised three such on-ground events – two in Mumbai and one in New Delhi – with over 600 participants. These events were all amplified through traditional media and social mediaso as to generate awareness for this very important social cause.

Since the programme’s inception, ICICI Lombard has directly contacted over 100,000 parents and their children, and also distributed 70,000 helmets to children.

I Will Drive You Home

This endeavour, under the aegis of the Ride to Safety campaign, marks our second effort towards ensuring Road Safety. The genesis was a May 2017 survey conducted among 1,200 respondents across 10 cities, included the four metros and Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Indore and Chandigarh. The respondents included men and women in the 25-45-year age bracket. About 68% of these respondents admitted that they continued to drink and drive. This shocking revelation, despite well-publicised police action coupled with the ongoing and massive public awareness drive against the practice, compelled us to specifically take on the menace of drunken driving.

This campaign looked at bringing in behavioural change among urban, upwardly mobile individuals – both male and female – in the 25-45-year age bracket.

The idea of this new campaign germinated from an actual conversation with an elderly Delhi-based gentleman, Hemraj Sharma, who was lamenting the death of his 32-year-old son because of drunk and rash driving by another individual. That conversation helped us create a video, titled #IWillDriveYouHome. The video had sensitively-shot images of Mr Sharma picking up people – singles and couples, high after an alcohol-fuelled party – from popular nightspots and safely driving them home. It showed Mr Sharma, while driving, sharing the story of the accident that killed his son, urging his guests not to drink and drive. We subsequently amplified the video’s message through social media.

Next, we roped in popular Bollywood playback singer, Shaan, for a theme song, I Will Drive You Home. The song was premiered at a popular FM radio channel, Radio One, and then, amplified on social media. We subsequently hosted other singers – all social media celebrities including Shraddha Sharma, Ritu Agarwal, and Tushar Lall – to sing the cover version of the ‘I Will Drive You Home’ song at specially curated musical events. These artistes performed our theme song in addition to other popular songs at seven live events during January-February 2018. The events were organised at some of the most popular pubs and entertainment hubs in Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi.

Besides singing, as per a planned script, mid-performance, the artistes typically asked fan groups to identify individuals, who were the designated ‘chauffeurs’ for the evening – as in those individuals who weren’t drinking. Once identified, these individuals were invited to come up on stage and felicitated. All of these acts were captured on video and posted across social media. Post the live gigs, artistes went on Facebook Live – asking fans to share their stories of drunken driving, people they have lost, or people they know who have lost someone. The sessions ended with ICICI Lombard’s brand messaging. We were on Facebook, Facebook Live, in addition to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Now, let me explain the subject of ‘preventive healthcare’; under thisprogramme, we run two campaigns – Caring Hands and Niranjali. Both these programmes have been designed with a specific intent; not only are these intertwined with the concept of ‘health and awareness’ that is integral to ICICI Lombard, but health insurance in itself is also an important component of our business. Let me elucidate the Caring Hands project now.

Caring Hands

This programme aims to improve the health of underprivileged children – especially in the area of eye-related problems. For close to eight years now, ICICI Lombard has been conducting this initiative across hundreds of schools in the country. What is really heart-warming about the project is the fact that the employees of ICICI Lombard take care of every aspect of this – from seeking a school’s permission for holding eye check-up camps to bringing in ophthalmologists and conducting the camp. Distribution of free spectacles to the needy children is also managed by the employees.

Under our CSR umbrella, we try to encourage employees to actively engage in giving back to the society. We must be doing something right because all our people, who take up roles in participating in CSR activities, come in as volunteers, and we, at ICICI Lombard, are proud to foster such thinking and drive among our employees. We constantly encourage and support such employee-volunteers year-round. Programmes such as Caring Hands demonstrate how our professional colleagues not only contribute in achieving corporate goals but also encourage non-profit humanitarian work to bring positive changes in the society.

Meticulously planned for over two months every year, the project culminates on Caring Hands Day held during the second week of December. Over the last seven years, a total of 176,000 students from more than 300schools across the country have been beneficiaries of the Caring Hands initiative. The support for the project is so over whelming that every year more than 50 per cent of the employee base gets involved – making it a truly employee-driven CSR initiative.

Here’s one more yardstick of Caring Hands’ impact: From 11,000 children-beneficiaries in 2011, the number of children who visited eye check-up camps swelled to 36,579 in 2018. Last year, the Caring Hands project was conducted at 273 schools across 104 locations in the country, and 5,583 children with poor vision received free spectacles. In terms of statistics, since its inception in 2011, the Caring Hands campaign, with the support of hundreds of volunteers, has touched the lives of more than 200,000 children in more than 300 schools over 100 locations across the country. We remain committed to enriching the lives of children through this unique endeavour.

Niranjali

This initiative, also under the preventive healthcare programme, is a direct response to a rather disturbing WHO (World Health Organisation) report that in India, about 38 million people are affected by waterborne diseases each year, of which over 75 per cent are children; 780,000 deaths are attributable to contaminated water, of which more than 400,000 can be attributed to diarrhoea alone.

Recently, ICICI Lombard decided to address this problem and thereby tackle the larger issue of lack of wellness among children. This focus was in line with our experience in the healthcare domain and expertise in initiating projects towards preventive care – especially related to wellness.

As a response to the water-related malady, we initiated workshops at select schools involving underprivileged children along with their teachers to make them aware of problems related to drinking untreated water. As the next step, we installed water-purifiers across many schools in Mumbai to ensure that these children get access to clean drinking water. An estimated 35,000 students have benefitted from this exercise and have access to clean drinking water now.

Being a conscientious corporate, ICICI Lombard has been pursuing these endeavours and is committed to do much more. We realise that all of these efforts are miniscule when compared to the major issues that we face as a country. Thus, we will go all out for stakeholder engagement towards an all-out effort to bring in greater awareness and adoption of Road Safety and Preventive Healthcare. You too can help by joining us in this journey.

*Source: Human Capital Online

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