Corporate social responsibility and Habitat
Marc Bitzer, the President of Whirlpool Europe— one of Habitat’s largest corporate partners in the region—personally led a team of volunteers to Radauti, Romania while two other teams of Whirlpool employees were, at the same time, getting their hands dirty in Gliwice and Gdansk, Poland. These events were a part of the pan-European partnership between Habitat and Whirlpool.
Marc Bitzer and his team worked alongside the Ichim family from Radauti. Mihaela and Mihai Ichim share a government-owned 7-room house with three other families; the building has no sewerage. “During winter, the entire water installation freezes and we have to carry it in buckets from the neighbors. The fire wood is expensive and the stoves cannot heat the rooms properly and we all have to stay in just one room during winter time,” says Mihaela.
Other corporate partners have also taken a swing at poverty housing on the build site. The insurance company Aviva sent a team of 28 international managers to build homes with poor families in Romania in April this year. “Our approach is to support the development or our people through a wide range of experiences, and working alongside poor communities in Craiova is one of the ways in which we are trying to achieve this,” said Carolyn Reed, director of the management development group for Aviva.
The added value of partnering with Habitat
For a business like Whirlpool, partnering with Habitat in this way is an excellent means to give something back while developing team-building and problem-solving skills. Employees come out of a building trip a stronger team, united around a good cause.
While building a home with a family in need, employees cooperate differently with each other than they do in the office. They work alongside members of the local community and learn about a new culture. Moreover, on a Habitat build, united in the goal of helping people, employees at every level get to see each other at their best. It’s an opportunity to grow, to bond and to experience good feelings that get carried back to the workplace.
“It is thoroughly worthwhile as part of a corporate responsibility project: second to none in terms of team building. It’s a great way to get your staff motivated. It is very ‘hands on’ and has a great impact,” said Lois Duguid of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, another Habitat corporate partner.
What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:
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