Science-based Company Boosting Science Education
Whether bringing science education to 34 elementary schools with a mobile science van, or helping reconstruct classrooms in the wake of Typhoon Morakot, Bayer Taiwan combines know-how and passion for a different kind of public service.
Science-based Company Boosting Science EducationBy Ming-Ling Hsieh
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 452 )
Standing in the science classroom resurrected from the rubble of last August's Typhoon Morakot, Roger Yen, innovation manager at Bayer Taiwan, is surrounded by the children of Shanmei Elementary School in Alishan Township, in Taiwan's Jiayi County.
Picking up a counterfeit NT$1000 note soaked in iodine, he drips lemon juice on it. Instantly, the vitamin C separates the iodine ions to restore the bill to its lovely original colors, amazing and enthralling the children.
"They said they wish they could use that trick to turn ordinary white paper into cash," Yen jokes.
Roger Yen is a seed teacher in Bayer's science education program. Bayer, whose business was founded on scientific research, has long sponsored science competitions to encourage science education. Following the devastating typhoon, they toured the disaster areas helping affected primary schools revive their science programs. This gave them an appreciation for the dire needs of remote villages, and they set about training seeds within company departments to bring the wonders of life science to remote areas in a systematic fashion.
Social Responsibility with a Professional Twist
A notable aspect of Bayer's approach to corporate social responsibility is the way the company sets out from its core competency and ties its CSR undertakings into professional operations.
Last year Bayer rebuilt infirmaries for 13 primary schools, linked professional manpower with the National Taiwan Science Education Center, and visited 34 primary schools in a mobile science van to help over 1300 students participate in science education. Beyond these efforts, they helped rebuild science classrooms at five schools destroyed by Typhoon Morakot.
Each year Bayer allocates around 0.15 percent of its revenue to social participation or public service around the world. But as Bayer Taiwan president Steffan Huber observes, cash is not the only consideration.
"It is not necessarily money you have to bring to the table," he offers. "It can be expertise. It can be human resources. We have a lot of people with a lot of experience. And I think this is the part we have chosen for Taiwan, to focus on science education."
Bayer Schering Pharma's health center renovation program is one example. Originally conceived as a team bonding exercise, the project placed over 200 staff members in 13 selected primary schools, where they reorganized the schools' infirmaries over the course of six weeks, focusing on turning them into "happy corners."
Hospital-class Infirmary Management
When they were finished with their renovations, the infirmaries sported cheerful atmospheres with warm Scandinavian color schemes, and were redesigned with more efficient flow lines, applying medical supply inventory management methods.
"We took the same approach to managing infirmaries as hospitals use for managing medicine," relates Bobo Hsu, society relations manager at Bayer HealthCare Taiwan.
They invested considerable time and effort to coming up with a systematic method for organizing medical supplies, as being unable to find medical supplies scattered all over the place in an emergency would be a serious problem. Perishable supplies, such as iodine and hydrogen peroxide, are also placed together to ensure they are not overlooked before their expiry date.
Bayer's people contribute a lot more than professionalism and money.
For instance, on Bayer's Volunteer Day, the Bayer Animal Health division brought three golden retrievers to Wanfeng Elementary School, located in Nantou County in Taiwan's rugged Central Mountains, to share with the children how to care for pets. On the same day, the Crop Science Group, 98 seedlings in hand, guided 68 children in learning about plant care. And the Material Science Group got children personally involved in an experiment adding two liquids together to make a sponge with just the right pliability.
Bayer's approach, encouraging involvement from the bottom up and the integration of professional expertise, not only stimulates diverse creativity, but also allows employees to use their own initiative and bring together greater resources in line with their positions.
For instance, volunteers in the infirmary renovation program made use of familiar business channels to collect supplementary medical supplies, while others were able to get dentists and medical center teams they know well to sponsor free infirmary consultations. Throughout these activities many volunteers' family members also lent a helping hand.
Steffan Huber and representatives from two other European companies have set up a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee in the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei to promote CSR in conjunction with the Taipei European School and other organizations. This year they're planning a beach cleanup event.
From employees to family members, to everyday business contacts, from in-company to inter-company organizations, from the ground up, and from small to large, the possibilities abound for public service and participation in society.
Translated from the Chinese by David Toman
Corporate Citizenship Achievements
Corporate Commitment: 7.9
Dedicates a set proportion of annual revenues to personnel training; paid leave for volunteer workers.
Social Participation: 9.0
Promotes science education in line with company expertise. Sponsored the construction of a music camp for indigenous grade school students.
Environmental Protection: 9.5
Set firm short-, medium- and long-term targets for waste water, emissions, and refuse reduction.