Carillion Qatar has much to be proud of as recent winner of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative of the Year at Construction Week Qatar’s annual awards event. This prize is possibly one of the most emotive on the list as it involves interacting with local communities, forming a relationship and developing trust.

Arthika Saseendranath, sustainability manager, Carillion MENA is ebullient when discussing the win and highlights some of the reasons why she feels the company won the award: “We won the award for the CSR Initiative of the Year 2016, for our Give and Gain initiative. While the inspiration for the programme comes from Carillion HQ in the UK, we however decided to take this initiative and project it throughout the year.

“As the title reflects, we understand our community responsibility in that we need to give back if we are to gain from it,” she says and adds: “Four years back we didn’t have much competition in the CWQ Awards, we were two-time winners; but now we have stiff competition as the awareness improves and every year the number and quality of entries is improving. Now people understand the green building terms and also, the community engagement aspect has improved because people are becoming more aware of CSR and how to participate.”

She emphasises that working within society is a two-way process where, while Carillion may gain from a commercial aspect, the company gives back into the community in a variety of ways, developing strong relationships within it, while forming bonds of trust.

Saseendranath emphasises that Carillion’s CSR initiatives go beyond environment, embracing a deeper involvement with the people of the community. She expands on how this is achieved: “CSR is just one part of our sustainability strategy and we understand that we need to work with the local community in a variety of ways including volunteering; spending time with local students and more.

“So for example in Qatar, we are constructing a building. While we are gaining (commercially) and we are making jobs available to our employees and staff, we understand that we must give back to the community where we work.”

In response to being asked if this is a case of ‘paying it forward’ she concurs and stresses that while Carillion’s sustainability drive is grounded in environmental principles, of equal importance is the social aspect.

“We encourage our employees and staff to engage with the local communities; we work with special needs schools; we offer internships to engineering students with Qatar University and, because we are a construction and support services business we generate a lot of recyclable waste like wood, plastic, cardboard, paper and even concrete. One of the schools that we have been supporting is HOPE Qatar Centre for Children with Special Needs which is in line with our strategy to target special needs centres and special needs children,” she says with evident enthusiasm.

Saseendranath explains that there are a number of special needs centres that require materials and also, more than financial assistance, hands-on volunteering time. “Instead of simply donating money, we rather try to utilise our manpower and skills to make a difference,” she adds explaining that although Carillion is a construction-based company, the CSR initiatives do not necessarily or specifically revolve around construction.