Business functional areas were asked to participate by identifying a home/organization/institution dealing with underprivileged children that they would like to ‘adopt and support’. How does it work? First the employees of the individual business functional areas form a committee and elect a chairperson.
Each functional business area with the established local CIP committee and in collaboration with members and the community identifies an institution to support. There are criteria guiding the selection of a new home. Overall, the beneficiary institution must be a non-profit and must care for underprivileged children with sound financial recording practices.
Local community leaders are also consulted during this process. Once this has been done a project proposal is sent to the central Community Involvement Process office (CIP Unit) and the funds are transferred to the participating business area. The local committee is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the project.
During the first year, the process was met with a fair amount of cynicism as staff felt that it was just another way for the business to get marketing mileage out of their employees. Many employees did not see any personal benefit in participating and were reluctant to commit themselves to the unknown. However, over the years the management has succeeded in getting union support and general staff buy in. This was initially achieved by getting the respective staff of the business functional areas visit the homes they had identified and bond with the children, also by interpersonal communication and by word of mouth.
Despite the slow uptake with one successful project in the first two years, the programme has since grown to become one of the best employee involvement programmes in Kenya. The programme is popular within children’s’ homes, communities and with BOC Kenya staff as well. So far the process supports 6 homes (3 in Nairobi, 1 in Mombasa, 1 in Kisumu and 1 in Kampala –Uganda) and the projects (chicken project, Irrigation project) undertaken have been very successful. This is a remarkable achievement given that participation is voluntary and all contact with the adopted home takes place after hours, i.e. in the employees’ spare time.
One of the reasons for the success of the programme, is the genuine sense of satisfaction and personal reward of participating employees. There are several reasons for employee participation and they vary from one individual to another but they all include an element of personal satisfaction. The programme offers opportunity for employees to fulfill their personal needs such as alleviating the suffering of the orphaned children in our country, as a means of showing their gratitude to God for the blessings in their lives.
Once a year, traditionally in October, the local CIP committees, together with the larger part of staff, get together with the community homes they support to celebrate the CIP in particular the relationships they have built and achievements they have accomplished over the year.
Activities vary form one business functional area to another but usually involved outings to educational and fun parks, fun and competition games and entertainments from well known recognized groups. The Tumaini day celebration has become so popular that it is now synonymous with the Community Involvement Programme as a whole. For the company it is a trade mark. However, for the CIP committee chairpersons it is a draw back as they constantly need to remind employees that CIP is not just a one-day a year event.
The CIP has helped to break down the traditional organizational hierarchies and barriers. At the field level, all employees are equal and unified by the desire to achieve a common goal. The company has also benefited in terms of diversity management, through the CIP employees have been exposed to different cultures and ways of life. Individually, employees also experience personal satisfaction and reward from their involvement something they would not experience from their normal jobs. In addition, through participation in CIP, particularly sitting on or chairing the local committee, the CIP has given exposure to many employees whose skills and abilities may previously not have been noticed by management.