The FINANCIAL - “What Needs to be Understood is that There is a Distinction between Charity and CSR,” David Gorgiladze of m2

“What Needs to be Understood is that There is a Distinction between Charity and CSR,” David Gorgiladze of m2

“What Needs to be Understood is that There is a Distinction between Charity and CSR,” David Gorgiladze of m2

The FINANCIAL -- Ever since its debut on the Georgian market, m2 has become one of the leaders in the Georgian development business. The company has launched 11 residential projects over the course of its 11-year existence, out of which 7 are already completed, housing 2000 families.

m2 is defined by expanding its horizons, challenging itself with projects of varying nature – starting with standard residence complexes, all the way to premium housing and hotels – namely, with two Ramada Hotels coming up, one on Kazbegi and the other on Melikishvili St.

m2 is one of the exemplary companies in Georgia in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. We spoke with David Gorgiladze, Head of the PR Department of m2, who shed light on the principles behind m2’s distinctive CSR campaigns.

Q. First of all, can you define for us the general philosophy of m2?

A. The m2 philosophy is simple – we aim to create better living conditions for people all around us. When we first started this company, we were keen to raise the standard of quality on the Georgian market. We wanted our brand name to be associated with comfort, safety, and for our products to be a response to the challenges of today. At the same time, following the same framework, we aspire to improve the environment beyond our own facilities.

Q. How important is CSR for m2?

A. Corporate Social Responsibility, or, to be more precise – Corporate Sustainability, is one of the postulates of our company’s philosophy. It goes directly in line with our company’s motto – creating a comfortable, safe environment for people.

We take CSR seriously and focus on more long-term, sustainable projects, which will have lasting, resonating benefits.

Our strategic directions in CSR include environmental protection, helping those in direst need, supporting education, female empowerment and promoting local sports facilities. In each of these fields, we’ve conducted projects and are continuing to do so. People can already see the benefits of our projects and will be able to observe even more encouraging and tangible results in the future and that’s delightful to know.

Q. Can you give some examples of m2’s CSR programme?

A. As I have already mentioned, our Corporate Sustainability projects have several main strategic directions. The primary one would be environmental care. In this framework, we are currently conducting two very crucial projects. The first one is restoring the forest on Mtatsminda hill, which was burned down due to a fire breakout in 2017. We took it upon ourselves not only to restore the 26,000 sq.m of forest, but also to take care of and sustain the new plantations for the next three years, to make sure that they are taken care of when most vulnerable.

Experts and environmental care organizations were unprecedentedly involved in this project. Every step is overseen by specialists with relevant knowledge. We will have a very bio-diverse and, what’s crucial – self-sustaining forest on Mtatsminda hill. At the same time, we tried to add an educational component to this project, in collaboration with our environmental protection NGO partners. The educational aspect implies raising awareness about fire prevention, risk aversion and adequate response to the disaster.

We’re also working on improving air quality in the city, together with E-space. m2 is financing the addition of electro filling stations, in order to encourage the import of more eco-friendly cars. We have already added 40 new electric car charging stations and will have a total of 100 by the end of our project. To our delight, results are already tangible – while a total of 32 electric cars were imported in 2016, this number has grown to 575 in only 3 calendar quarters in 2017. Naturally, the count is poised to grow even further.

In line with our goal of helping those in direst need, we are happy to state that we will very soon open a family-style house for kids with special needs who are under governmental protection. It will be located in Tbilisi, on Demetre Tavdadebuli St. Children will grow in an environment as closely resembling the warmth of a family environment as possible. They will have ideal opportunities to develop and flourish.

We’ve taken important steps in terms of female empowerment as well. We officialised the principles of this direction in December of 2016. Throughout this time, every employee of m2 participated in a designed training programme. We launched a confidential complaint mechanism and within the document included special, protective measures. At the same time, in 2017, we achieved complete gender balance in the company’s top management.

In line with our educational promotion policy, we will soon launch the Vazha-Pshavela museum-library in the National Library. This will be a space for youth, where they will be able to gather together, read, make presentations and have discussions.

Additionally, we’re active in sports as well. Last year, we were happy to announce that we became sponsors of a rugby club with long-standing traditions – the Lelo Saracens. Our aim is to promote Georgian rugby on club level. In several days, we will sign a partnership with football club Telavi and become their general sponsors. Besides financial support, we offer these clubs intellectual resources as well. We hope we can achieve new heights together.

In total, the CSR budget of m2 in 2017 was a million GEL.

Q. Do you have a separate department/personnel dedicated to CSR?

A. In our company, CSR is managed by the Marketing and Public Relations departments. CSR requires daily work and attention, as we’re picky in our projects, aiming for long-term sustainable results. Successful CSR projects require marketing and PR components, thorough planning, execution and attentive monitoring. Our employees dedicate significant time and resources to CSR, on a daily basis. It is one of the most enjoyable and creative aspects of work.

Q. What do you think about the CSR activity of Georgian companies in general, are they a little bit behind the trends on the global market?

A. What needs to be understood is that there is a distinction between charity and CSR. While obviously the latter contains elements of charity, it is far more than simple donation or assistance. It should have the ability to sustain itself and if executed well, can give rise to other, even more creative ideas, which will create even more benefit for society.

Q. Do you have plans for any CSR-related activities in the future?

A. We have several important projects currently on the move. Obviously, we will continue working on them until we reach the intended results. When it comes to future projects, we have our own distinct framework on how we approach the subject matter and are always considering next steps.

Written By David Aleksidze, The FINANCIAL