Shared Services: impact on local communities

This is the first in a series of best practice articles HP GBS (EMEA) is sharing with the SSON community. As a multiple-time SSON Award winner, HP's GBS organization is leading the way in implementing winning strategies.

Why bother...?

There are many reasons why companies start a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. In some cases it’s driven by the values of the companies’ founders, in others it’s based on employee initiatives. Sometimes CSR programs address external environment expectations and in some cases they are related to brand perception and reputation. At the end of the day, no matter the root cause, CSR programs bring only benefits – benefits to a community, benefits to employees and benefits to the company.

At HP, CSR is in the company’s DNA, as it reflects the mindset of the company’s founders who made it an integral part of company philosophy:

"The betterment of our society is not a job to be left to a few. It is a responsibility to be shared by all." Dave Packard

At HP, we see great examples of CSR programs across different countries and different business units. They vary depending on the external environment the particular Center operates in, and are tailored to each Center’s demographics and business nature.

I believe that our Shared Services Centers are leading in this space thanks to a couple of reasons. First of all, employees of our Centers are a perfect example of "Generation Y" with an average age of 29-30 years. They represent people whose expectation is to make a meaningful difference in societal causes, through their employment. The Shared Services Centers are typically based in countries that are still developing, so big corporations like HP can make a difference to the society and should participate in creating a culture of social responsibility.


Business Centers in EMEA support their environment

HP’s two main Centers in EMEA are in Poland (Wroclaw) and Romania (Bucharest). They deliver various business services, and combine a potential 5,000-plus employees who want to make a difference to society and believe that HP is a place that will enable them to do that. The Millennial Generation, also called Millennials, don’t live to work ... they work to live. And the quality of lives – their own and those of others – is important to them. It doesn’t mean that they are not ambitious and that they don’t want to be good at work and build a career! It only means that they want to live more meaningful lives and not lose the sense of what they are living for. That’s why Millenials appreciate companies that value social responsibility, and why they engage so heavily in those programs.

HP’s mission is to meet higher standards of integrity, ethics, contribution and accountability as we align our business goals with our impact on society and the environment. Consequently, the Corporate Social Responsibility programs in our EMEA Business Services Centers are built on three main pillars:

  • Social – projects aimed at helping people in need. It includes fund-raising, donation campaigns, employee and public involvement in social projects and initiatives targeting socially challenged members of the community.
  • Environment – projects aimed to increase employee involvement and awareness of the impact of industrial and technological development on the environment.
  • Community – projects aimed at contributing to the education and intellectual development of people in the community and supporting and maintaining civil awareness.

Examples start with small actions and lead up to wider impact programs but they are all bottom-up projects, where people and the company donate their time, engagement or money to contribute to the society.

Examples of projects in the Social space include: our employees are collecting sports and school accessories for children in need before the school year starts. Christmas time is a special time when we organize collections of funds, food, clothes, toys and other items, especially for children in need. In our Wroclaw Center, one of the employees wore a Santa Claus outfit and for less than a dollar, other employees could take a photo with Santa Claus. Money raised during this event was donated to children’s home.

Our "Ambassadors of change" in the Bucharest Center are helping elderly people with financial and health challenges to shop, pay bills, walk in the park, visit museums, go to the doctor – even entertain them and teach them new skills.

A very special example of our involvement and support is the blood donation campaign, which already has a history in Wroclaw Center. We now can’t imagine Spring without it. Every year, more and more people come to a special Red Cross station that is organized in our office to donate blood and bone marrow. The number of people supported through blood and bone marrow donation campaigns has already exceeded a thousand.

When it comes to supporting the Environment we are contributing mainly by delivering products that are eco- friendly but as we have great expertise in that area, we also share it with others and educate them as to how to save our planet through simple actions. We lead by example, and in our Centers we reduce plastic consumption, collect used batteries, and switch off electricity for World Earth Hour in March. Our employees go to parks to clean them up or plant trees in newly established forests. We promote bikes and an eco-friendly style of life. Our employees take part in special charity sport events and in marathons that raise funds for special causes. They all contribute to the quality of life of our generation, as well as future generations; everything, even small actions matter.

A significant factor concerning our employees is that almost all of them have higher education degrees (about 95% of the total population of the Centers). With such levels of education, they are eager to take part in competency-sharing projects and support the overall intellectual development of our Community. In Bucharest, employees offer monthly free, on-site English lessons for orphaned children aged 7-13. At the end of the teaching period a show is performed by these children, at the HP office. In addition, experts from different fields in Wroclaw run professional courses for students at the Universities in Wroclaw, and share their knowledge in areas like SAP, Business English, Excel etc.

What difference does it make?

It is obvious that all these projects and programs bring value. Sometimes it is easy to measure and show tangible results, like money, or liters of blood collected, or kilograms of plastic saved, or kilograms of batteries collected. But mostly, it is about creating an attitude of not just "taking" but also "giving back" to the local community that we operate in. We are an integral part of the community and as we benefit from the business opportunities these places provide, we should equally contribute to their current and future well-being. The external environment combined with our employees’ expectations is setting a very solid foundation for our CSR programs.

I believe that through our CSR programs achievements, our employees are proud to work for HP, the local authorities are proud to have such investors in their countries/regions, and people in the community are happy to have us as "business neighbors".

We also have statistics showing how the CSR program influences employee engagement. In our HP satisfaction survey, employees who had a chance to volunteer through HP provide twice the number of "strongly agree" responses to the questions: "I would recommend HP as a great place to work"; "Even if I were offered a comparable position with similar pay and benefits at another company, I would not leave HP"; and "I am optimistic about the future of HP".

Making an even bigger impact through collaboration

HP’s Shared Services Centers are well established in their locations as are our Corporate Social Responsibility programs. We are now evolving to the next stage which involves collaboration with other companies. There might be different associations where joint programs could be initiated; there might be a simple exchange of best practices that will trigger a project where two or more companies decide to collaborate; and in some locations, city authorities will initiate such a collaboration platform, or chambers of commerce will.

The conclusion is very simple: It makes sense to join forces – whether on company level and/or on regional level – with other companies. We have a great potential and a lot to share with others and this makes our employees and local communities proud. At the end, we all benefit from these investments of time, money and our hearts. HP is proud to set a good practice for ourselves and for others to follow!


HP’s GBS team (EMEA) won two SSON Awards in 2012 for Excellence in "Customer Services", as well as in "Improvement & Innovation". The Awards were presented on May 15 during the 12th Annual European Shared Services & Outsourcing Week in Amsterdam. SSON's Excellence Awards are the most prestigious and coveted Awards in the shared services & business process outsourcing industry, and HP's GBS team thus takes its place among the leading SSOs within the sector.

As a recognized industry leader in shared services, HP will publish a series of articles outlining its best-practice strategies on SSON's website. This article marks the first in the series. Others will cover:

– Growing More Sophisticated Services – How Services Fuel an Economy

– Value Creation

– Process Improvement Methodologies and Tools

– Diversity

– Customer Experience

About HP GBS

HP’s Global Business Services supports the HP corporation by driving innovation and effectively handling key business processes to contribute positively to overall company performance. This means delivering positive results not only to the company's cost base (generally the primary purpose of shared services) but also by increasing sales opportunities, optimizing cash flow and enhancing end-customer satisfaction.

HP’s SSO has had a presence in the EMEA region since 1999. It has two mature multi-functional global delivery centers in Wroclaw (Poland) and Bucharest (Romania). The strategy pursued by the organization is based on a growing portfolio of services in Finance & Administration, HR, Supply Chain and Marketing. These services include advanced business processes such as external customer facing activities, pre-sales services, tax reporting and partner marketing.

In 2011, HP GBS won the European SSON Excellence award for Value Creation.