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CSI and community outreach – Why Macsteel brings it home to maximise relevance and meaning

Africa’s leading steel supplier, Macsteel, has taken an unparalleled inclusive approach to its CSI activities.

Instead of allocating the prescribed 67 minutes to doing good during Mandela Day in July, it used that time as a catalyst for starting a conversation with Macsteelers in an on-going “Pay It Forward” initiative, in partnership with Macsteel Cares. Pay It Forward Day is an international event that encourages individuals to perform random acts of kindness as a form of giving back. Its goal is to create a ripple-effect that makes the world a better place to live in.

According to Kim Allan, Macsteel’s Group Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Mandela Day results in thousands of tangible actions which better the lives or circumstances of needy organisations or individuals.  “We applaud every action undertaken on July 18th, but our priority is to ensure that the philosophy of giving back is fully entrenched within our staff complement throughout the year.  Historically Macsteel has long been committed to the development and upliftment of communities, and the natural route to a greater commitment from our staff complement is direct involvement.”

Macsteelers were first introduced to the Pay It Forward concept in April in a call for action to identify the worthiest projects in which they are involved within their communities. The object was to find avenues for partnerships with Macsteel Cares which would make a significant difference beyond the 18th of July. As a result, fifteen proposals were submitted in the following months and of these, six are currently being implemented.

To give the Pay It Forward campaign further exposure, Group CSR expanded it to reach every Macsteel business unit and branch in South Africa to encourage upliftment projects in the communities in which Macsteelers live and work. Branch managers were asked to each nominate someone in their branch to act as CSR team network leader for their branch’s initiative.

Team leaders were tasked with spreading the word about the Pay It Forward concept ahead of Mandela Day. The focus was on motivating branch members to actively participate in projects within their communities that would then open the way for Macsteel Cares to partner with them.

With the intention of exploring ways in which Macsteel Cares can forge partnerships with staff and communities to ease burdens, Mandela Day saw Macsteel’s toolbox talks focused on the Macsteel Pay it Forward initiative.  Team leaders, equipped with only a script, were given 15 minutes to speak to different groups of Macsteel employees. Their brief was to initiate conversations around community-based projects in which the employees may already be actively involved.  If there was no involvement with or knowledge of community challenges, the team leaders encouraged Macsteelers to take the Pay it Forward conversation back with them to their communities.

The team leaders’ hard work ahead, both prior to and on Mandela Day, made the Pay It Forward initiative a great success, evidenced by the immediacy of the responses, which was completely unexpected.

“This illustrates how a chance to motivate for involvement in causes close to our employees’ places of work and home resonates with them and makes our outreach more meaningful and substantial,” says Allan.  She adds that Macsteel’s branches will stay actively involved in their communities, giving their time and talents to the vulnerable with the support of Macsteel Cares, way beyond Mandela Day.

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