How Alstonia worked with a healthcare MNC to integrate purpose into the company’s employee engagement program
A Tree Plantation Drive – Greening the Heart of Mumbai
“Join the race to make the world a better place” – last year’s United Nations’ slogan on World Environment Day – perfectly summarises a tree plantation drive we organised last monsoon. The drive was a part of the employee engagement program of a healthcare MNC, and the employees planted over a hundred trees at Aarey Colony, Goregaon, Mumbai.
As part of the company employee engagement program, we created an opportunity for employees to plant a hundred trees in the heart of the city – in the highly populated and congested suburbs of North Mumbai. Usually, tree plantation campaigns are carried out at the outskirts of Mumbai city, but we chose an urban spot since the trees planted here would increase the green cover of the city and contribute directly to the health and wellness of Mumbai.
Engaged Employees with a Contributor Mindset
Volunteering for a cause fosters a sense of compassion, empathy and responsibility in teams. These are key for engaged employees and are valued qualities in leaders at the workplace.
In the expansive metropolis of Mumbai, finding a patch of land devoid of concrete is difficult. While there are some planned gardens managed by the municipal corporation, it was a challenge to find open landto plant over a hundred trees within city limits. After weighing all the available options, we zeroed in on the Aarey Colony, in Goregaon – since that offered the best land for a tree plantation drive of this scale. We collaborated with the Save Aarey Foundation for the plantation drive and worked with them to secure land permissions, procure saplings, prepare plantation pits and create guidelines for plantation techniques.
In the week that lead up to the tree plantation drive, we designed engagement activities within the office as a build up to the actual drive. The objective was to create excitement along with awareness and encourage participation for social impact. We organised quizzes, documentaries and green pledge campaigns to sensitise employees on topics such as the importance of planting trees native to Mumbai, the importance of mangroves in flood alleviation and coastal ecosystem preservation, and simple ideas to go green. The idea was to involve employees intellectually as well as emotionally with the event.
The Day of the Tree Plantation Drive
On a rainy Saturday morning last June, about 30 employees – some with their kids in tow – gathered near the Goregaon (E) toll naka to join a Walkathon of two kilometres to the plantation site in the Aarey Colony. Everyone wore green as a symbol of solidarity with the natural environment. Once they reached the site, Mr. Sandeep Athalye, a representative of the Save Aarey Foundation briefed them on the trees that were to be planted, why these particular species had been chosen, and demonstrated the right techniques to plant a sapling. Despite the unrelenting rain, the team planted nearly a hundred trees of native varieties including Alstonia (Saptaparni), Tabebuia Rosea (Basant Rani), Bauhinia (Kachnar – Orchid Tree), Swietenia Macrophylla (Mahagani) & Putranjiva (Putijia) in the Aarey area – which is on its way to deforestation.
It was hard work and many people were heard expressing their appreciation for the work our farmers do day in and day out. By the end, though the team was very tired, they came away with a sense of deep satisfaction at the thought of having given back to Mother Nature, and having done a small bit towards building a greener future for the next generation.
Adding Shared Value
For the Company:
- Brand Value: Alignment with the healthcare brand by planting tree species which are highly nutritive and have health benefits.
- Corporate Responsibility: Being a responsible corporate citizen and contributing to the betterment of the environment.
- Purpose: Employees found a sense of purpose, by doing good for the community. This fostered the qualities of ownership, compassion and teamwork in the employees – and is a small step to create responsible individuals which are in turn responsible family members and responsible employees.
- Rejuvenation: Provided a welcome break from daily work schedules to connect with the earth, while planting trees in a serene location where it’s easy to forget you’re still in Mumbai.
For the Environment:
- Increased Green Cover and a Sustainable Ecosystem: Creating an urban forest ecosystem in the dry-land pocket within the city of Mumbai so that it acts as a green lung, help reduce pollution and sequester carbon.
- Rejuvenation: Planting native tree species promote a flourishing and balanced ecosystem.
- Pure Air: Trees capture airborne particles such as dirt, dust and soot. A 2008 study by researchers at Columbia University found that more trees in urban neighbourhoods correlate with a lower incidence of asthma.
Long Term Impact:
Today, after almost a year, 90% of the trees planted have survived.
Native species of trees have a significantly higher rate of survival and increased benefits to the habitat in which they are planted. Once planted, native trees and shrubs generally need less maintenance, often requiring fewer, if any, fertilisers or pesticides or additional water. Additionally, local wildlife species have evolved with native trees and shrubs and are dependent on the food and habitat that they provide.
The ecosystem is gradually regaining its natural balance, and a healthy butterfly, honeybee and bird population is being revitalised due to the trees planted.
As per experts, planting trees in June & July (the local monsoon) improves the survival rate of trees.
Contact us to know more about how you can do your bit for the environment – we would be happy to help plan similar tree plantation drives for interested organisations.