Yapa and the two deaf boys in the Egerbyg carpentry project in Sri Lanka

Danish Carpentry Firm’s Corporate Social Performance goes International

The Egerbyg team in Sri Lanka
young deaf carpenter at the Egerbyg Social Impact project in Sri Lanka
global impavt client egerbyg

Set up over a decade ago and supporting both commercial and domestic clients, Egerbyg has an impressive S.R. (Social Responsibility) record going back to their very early days. As a matter of both policy and company culture they focus their C.S.R. strategies on;

1.      Disability and employment (38% of Egerbyg colleagues have an identified “disability”).

2.      Age discrimination in the construction industry (23% of Egerbyg team-members are over 60).

3.      Helping apprenticed and qualified carpenters from disadvantaged backgrounds understand what it takes to not only be good carpenters, but to manage their own carpentry businesses.

Building on their nationally recognised C.S.P. (Corporate Social Performance) profile, Egerbyg sought Global Impact’s advice on a range of issues, top of the list being to add an ‘international dimension’ to their long-term support for people new to the carpentry profession and as a reflection of the multi-cultural nature of the company itself, Egerbyg customers and, of course, their suppliers.

The Global Impact Director, John Lees, returning from a site visit for another client, introduced the idea of partnering the carpentry department at Tangalle School for Deaf & Blind Children, in Sri Lanka, a part of the world still scarred by the 2004 tsunami and from which parts of the community are still struggling to recover. Over several strong coffees an idea evolved from “Can-we?” to “When-do-we-do-this?”

Six months later, two of the School’s hearing-impaired carpentry students are about to begin work on important restoration projects in the School’s long-redundant kitchen, the projects to be wholly funded by Egerbyg. The boys will be responsible for the fitting of wooden ceilings and will both design and manage the installation of lighting, extraction and fans.

The project will be supervised by local craftsman R. P. Thilak Madusanka, who is keen to pass-on his own skills to the next generation of young, Sri Lankan carpenters and is confident the four to six week project will give the 17 year olds, Kavindu Lakshan & Pathum Dilshan, invaluable experience they can then take into the workplace once their time at Tangalle School is finished next year.

Jørgen, one of the Egerbyg’s founders, explained their thinking. “We have well established programs for people of all ages and from different, sometimes difficult backgrounds here in Denmark. Our purpose is to help them kick-start their careers in carpentry so we thought it appropriate to see if we could also help youngsters from under-developed communities abroad in a similar way. The opportunity John described seemed to fit our strategy of encouraging self-help through work skills development passed on by experienced craftsmen directly to apprentices.”

Jørgen concluded. “Like other CSR-focused businesses we turned to Global Impact, who are well-established in this field. Right on schedule, our partnership project with the boys at Tangalle School goes “live” in late November, helped it must be said, by Global Impact’s Project Manager in Sri Lanka, Yapa Arachchi, who have been a wonderful partner and the organisational force behind the project.”

With Yapa, the Global Impact team has been developing projects like Egerbyg’s for several years. Whether abroad or closer to home, Social Responsibility projects produce extraordinary local results for local people, but these projects also help the business investing in these social partnerships, and in remarkably diverse and productive ways;

i.           Illuminating the company’s purposes & its meaningful identity

ii.           Dynamically differentiating client companies from their competitors

iii.           Developing and enhancing a company’s brand and its brand’s impact

iv.           Marketing the brand to promote brand-significance and visibility

v.           Bonding colleagues together behind a “cause” greater than profit

vi.           Developing a clear recruitment and retention ‘identity’ as a key to sustainable commercial growth

vii.           Developing corporate volunteering programs

As Egerbyg’s experience confirms, genuine, well-delivered S.R. projects have a “pay-back” at either end of the project line. Those helped by Egerbyg’s projects in Sri Lanka and their home-town of Copenhagen enjoy clearly defined benefits through work and careers as well as improved prospects and social opportunities. For the donor however, Social Responsibility projects reinforce and re-state the company’s purpose, its identity and its brand, which motivates staff, potential recruits, customers, investors and suppliers alike.

We will however leave the last word to Jørgen. “The project with Kavindu and Pathum is obviously ground-breaking for us but more importantly, it has helped motivate other companies of our size to partner Tangalle School and other brilliant projects through Global Impact, all in equally unique ways, and it is this we are particularly proud of.”

Corporate Social Performance projects in the SME market are no longer a mystery. The benefits for everyone are clear to see and explains why such projects are increasingly main-stream, helping companies such as Egerbyg define themselves to a highly receptive market.

If the Egerbyg experience resonates with your business do not hesitate to get in touch.