“The interest of society is also our interest”

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) today is an indicator of how well a brand communicates with stakeholders and communities, both locally and globally. Corporate social responsibility is not only the right thing to do, but it also has more and more business sense, as a way to deepen the connection with modern consumers. That is why CSR – strategies, metrics, management involvement, projects and public response – was the topic of the October “BIZ Collegium”. On that occasion, one of the participants was also Suzana Djordjevic, director of the Hemofarm Foundation.

We at the Hemofarm Foundation have been dedicated to the topic of health since its inception, carrying out the mission “We care about people’s health as a reliable partner”. Thus, even during the crisis caused by the coronavirus, all our attention is focused primarily on supporting employees, health care institutions and workers, as well as the general public, through various types of donations and psychosocial support programs.

Hemofarm Foundation has existed for almost three decades, which means that you were aware of the importance of corporate social responsibility even before CSR came to life as a trend?

Exactly. For us, simply put, it is unthinkable to be socially irresponsible. For 28 years, we have been raising topics that are important for society – they are not always pleasant, but they are also important for the benefit of all of us. From raising public awareness of the importance of organ donation and transplantation to drawing public attention to the importance of preserving mental health. Both topics are “taboo” in our society, they are a question of our consciousness and conscience, an indicator that we take care of our health and the health of others. It is important to say that these projects would not be so successful if the whole company did not stand behind them – from the project level to the execution level.

The employees of Hemofarm and the Foundation are the heart of every campaign we have done, from its establishment until today.

Based on what do you create your CSR strategy? It seems that it is a much simpler job in countries where it is an upgrade to the existing system than in our country, where people’s awareness of certain problems has yet to be built and where, unfortunately, there is great “competition” in which area or project to dedicate.

Although corporate social responsibility emerged at the end of the last century as a need of the corporate world to “buy back its conscience” due to the negative impact of business practices on people and the community, what usually happens when you “infect” the good – it’s hard to break . We are happy to see that this “contagion” is spreading and that more and more companies are introducing social responsibility and sustainable development into their business, because in that way they show a responsible, humane and solidary face of business. We really look at the competition favorably, aware of the great needs of society and the fact that help is needed in various aspects of life.

How much has the role and importance, and even the priorities of CSR changed in the last two years?

The biggest public health crisis – the kovida pandemic 19 – changed the way we knew, but also the way we did business, and highlighted the topic of preserving the health and well-being of people, around which the whole world was united. Through socially responsible behavior, we have somewhat reduced the consequences of the pandemic, but issues remain from the climate crisis to the growing social injustice and inequality, which the crisis has only deepened. As I write this, a conference “From Crisis to Opportunity: How Philanthropy Can Accelerate Sustainable Change?” Is underway in Vienna, with representatives from various associations, corporate foundations, and NGOs trying to find an answer to this burning question. We at the Hemofarm Foundation have been dedicated to the topic of health since its inception, carrying out the mission We care about people’s health as a reliable partner. Thus, even during the crisis caused by the coronavirus, all our attention is focused primarily on supporting employees, health care institutions and workers, as well as the general public, through various types of donations and psychosocial support programs.

Just as corporate social responsibility can bring customer loyalty, it can also affect the attitude of your employees towards your company. Experiences from around the world show that a strong CSR policy can cultivate a more positive culture at work, retain employees in the company and attract new top talent. Is that the case with your company?

Absolutely! For us, corporate social responsibility means that you are, above all, responsible to your employees, to build a business environment that respects their rights and gives them a chance to grow. At the time of the first wave of kovid 19, our focus was on employees and their well-being. We have established a crisis headquarters within the company, introduced new procedures, raised protection to the highest level, provided conditions for the safe work of employees and launched a psychosocial support program. Together we can do everything. The second phase of our activities was aimed at the professional public, through support to health institutions and health staff in the fight against coronavirus. At the same time, following the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, we educated the general public every day on social networks about health protection measures against viruses, and pointed out the importance of maintaining mental health through forums “Coffee with a psychologist” and blogs.

The impact of CSR on consumers and on the image that the company has in public is extremely strong. Have you researched the attitude of consumers towards Hemofarm in the light of all the activities of the Foundation? How do you promote them and how do you manage not to cross the thin line between informing the public and self-promotion?

We never flattered the public. The campaigns we launched speak in favor of that, because we did not hesitate to put unpopular and painful topics in the center of attention. We believe that the interest of society is also our interest. The role of the Hemofarm Foundation is to promote the principles and values ​​we believe in, first and foremost – integrity, agility, entrepreneurship and team spirit, because these are the business principles on which our company is based, with responsibility, humanity and solidarity, as values ​​that adorn our employees. , and for which we want them to become the values ​​of the whole society. We believe that these values ​​and our commitment have been recognized by the professional and wider community, from which we have received 24 awards in the last six and a half years alone. We have recently received the news that, at the European level, we have received recognition for “promoting trust in business”, which speaks in favor of the fact that we are on the right track with this approach to business.

The Hemofarm Foundation pays a lot of attention to a topic that is, to some extent, still “taboo” in our country – mental health, especially during a pandemic. You have launched a national campaign with the aim of raising public awareness about maintaining mental health and creating a social movement to combat depression and the stigma that accompanies the sick – “Unbreakable”. Can you tell us something about this project and the results so far?

The “Unbreakable” campaign was launched in cooperation with the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, which is our long-term partner, and with the support of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, with the aim of raising public awareness of the importance of mental health, depression and stigma. According to the first available research conducted at the beginning of the crisis caused by covid, 19 – 28.9 percent of the population in Serbia reported moderate to severe depression. We think that the number of those with these symptoms is even higher, but that many, out of fear of condemnation from society, hide it and fight in their own four walls – which is wrong.

Aware of this and with the best intention to provide help and support to people who are struggling with depression and the stigma that accompanies it, we have formed a movement to fight this disease “Unbreakable”

and establish an SOS line to combat depression – 0800 001 002, where experts from four special hospitals for psychiatric diseases in Vršac, Gornja Toponica, Kovin and Novi Kneževci work. Calls are free and anonymous, and help and support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Support is also available via email [email protected] and website www.nesalomivi.rs, where you can find author’s texts on mental health experts, confessions of people who are struggling with depression or have overcome it, frequently asked questions and answers about depression, tips on how to overcome it, forums “Coffee with a psychologist”, as well as the directory of mental health institutions health in Serbia.

To date, more than 700,000 people have joined the “Unbreakable” movement to fight depression, which only speaks in favor of the necessity of this initiative. More than 5,000 people received help and support, thanks to the SOS line and email we established. More than half a million people saw the campaign in 28 health centers in Serbia, one million people saw the campaign in Naxis taxi vehicles, while four million people were introduced to the “Unbreakable” campaign via social networks. The campaign was supported by more than 650 companies, business associations, organizations from Serbia and abroad. The campaign also inspired numerous other organizations to launch initiatives in the field of mental health, which we see as one of the important contributions of the “Unbreakable” campaign. This fact makes us sincerely happy and gives even more meaning to the campaign slogan: “When we are together, nothing can break us!”, When we would like everyone to remember the moments when they feel weak.

Source: BIZLife Magazine

Source: BIZlife by www.bizlife.rs.

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