Deep Dive on CSR in China (Part II): Hope amid the ruins, employee engagement, and pandas

After two very busy and productive days in Beijing, I traveled together with our China CSR manager C.Y. to visit our operations in Chengdu and the surrounding area. Intel has been operating in Chengdu since 2005, and we have around 3,000 employees there at our assembly and test facility. Our Chengdu operations have gotten a reputation both internally and externally in the local community for our strong employee volunteerism culture, which became more critical following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which devastated much of the region, wiping out hundreds of towns and taking over 80,000 lives.

ChengduEarthquake.jpgFor the past two years, I have learned about the earthquake and the recovery efforts. But it was another thing to see the devastation and the rebuilding up close. My colleague Henry, our community affairs manager in Chengdu, took me to visit a town that was destroyed by the earthquake, and is being preserved as a memorial to those who died. Truly humbling to think of the hundreds of towns like this one that were destroyed and the survivors who had to rebuild their lives and mourn those they lost. We also visited a newly rebuilt town nearby, rows of brand new white townhouses with countless newly planted trees, many with plastic wrap still on them to protect them from the frost.

ChengduSchool.jpgIn the days following the earthquake, Intel mobilized our volunteers to assist with needs in the immediate aftermath and with financial assistance (see video for details.) But more importantly, the local CSR team also moved quickly to collaborate with other companies, government officials, aid organizations, and educators to plan for contributions to the long-term recovery needs. The resulting project was called the “i-World” project and involved installing 200 e-classrooms in schools located in the earthquake zone.

Thumbnail image for ChengduSchool2.jpg Thousands of schools were destroyed during the earthquake and had to be rebuilt. The new e-classrooms have been installed in the newly rebuilt schools with the help of Intel volunteers. Importantly, teachers at the schools have received technology training through the Intel Teach program to ensure that the full benefits of the e-classrooms can be realized. We were able to tour one school with the principal and two teachers, meet students and visit the e-classroom, which the teachers reported is used continuously throughout each school day for the different classes.

In addition to touring outside Intel, I also spent time inside Intel. During my time at the Intel Chengdu site, I had the chance to meet with a number of my colleagues there and also tour the new garden area we recently built on the site. We had a recognition event for a number of our volunteer champions to thank them for their contributions during the past year, including their work to develop and lead ongoing volunteer projects, from participating in the i-World volunteering events to working in the farmer community information centre to participating in a mentoring program. One of the keys to our success in our employee engagement, are people like Henry who spend a great deal of time understanding the local community needs and thinking strategically about where we can have the greatest impact, combining the expertise and passion of our employees with Intel technology applications. Chengdusite.jpg And perhaps most importantly, Henry is committed to getting more employees engaged and maintains a relentless focus on making sure that our employees’ efforts and leadership in the community are valued and recognized throughout the organization. I’m also excited by the work he is doing to take his expertise in building a culture of volunteering outside Intel, partnering with the city government and other local companies to identify best practices and build a broader volunteer culture in Chengdu.

ChengduCIC.jpgChengduFarmer.png We also had the opportunity to visit the farmer community project I mentioned above-a new community being built by the government for rural farmers to provide an opportunity for them to could come together and jointly live and farm, while having access to a community center featuring a health center, library and community information center (donated by Intel). Intel employees regularly volunteer at the center, helping with the computer lab and also planting a new orchard on the site.

And finally, yes, I did also get to visit pandas, which have always been a favorite of mine since I was little. In the nursery area, I was facinated by the seven baby pandas all sleeping in the grass in the late afternoon sun and some very rambunctious red pandas chomping on bamboo and chasing each other up and down the trees. Panda1.jpg Walking through the beautiful preserve, I was taken by the sign at one of the area entrances, “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.” – Baba Dioum.

Panda2.jpg This quote was a perfect way to end my visit to Chengdu – a reminder of the critical importance of sustainability and the need for continuous learning and engagement everywhere we operate – from my home site of Arizona to the other side of the world.

4 Responses to Deep Dive on CSR in China (Part II): Hope amid the ruins, employee engagement, and pandas

  1. christy says:

    so very jealous, Suzanne. You just may have the best job in the world. thanks for sharing these observations. makes me proud all over again.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Thanks, Christy – yes, I feel so incredibly thankful to have the job that I have – and to get the opportunity to work with so many committed people around the world.

  3. Suzanne,
    Thanks for sharing what Intel/Intel’s CSR looks like overseas. So many companies are focused on communicating their work in the US (which is wonderful) but it’s engaging to see another, extended layer of Intel and its beliefs in action.
    P.S. We met at the US Chamber’s CSR conference in September. I had recently joined Ashoka’s Changemakers and have since met Claire.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Hi Olivia – thanks so much for your note… yes, I think it’s incredibly interesting right now to see how CSR is developing in different countries and the collaborations that I see happening between our Intel CSR teams at the country and regional level with other multinationals and local companies in different local markets. I do remember meeting you in DC – and hope you are enjoying Ashoka Changemakers and glad you had the chance to meet Claire – lots of exciting work going on in the world of social entrepreneurship these days – actually was just forward this article by our Intel India team that you might be interested in as well: