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Is ‘Giving’ An Important Pillar To Build Positivity In Organisations?

In addition to reducing inequity, ‘giving’ brings people together, creates a multiplier effect that not only helps the receiver but the giver as well

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When I was growing up, I witnessed various instances of ‘giving’ practised in simple ways. A stark memory that stands out is of my mother smilingly giving her meagre possessions - be it food, things or savings –to anyone she felt needed it more. I witnessed my father, a highly respected and loved government veterinary doctor, give his time and scant cash just as generously to save the cattle owned by poor farmers. 

As a ritual, which I must confess I did not understand at the time, my grandparents routinely parted with a portion of daily rations to those who stopped by at their doorstep requesting for some food. It never occurred to me that inconveniencing oneself to bring a smile on someone else’s face was in fact a source of joy to them. 

I discovered much later, how this generosity made them contented, which in turn influenced the very world and people around them in a positive manner. My understanding of the ‘joy of giving’ has its roots in these simple acts of giving that was further embedded in my siblings and later, my children as well.

Giving or dāna is more than a simple act - it is about a belief system built around empathy and a heart that senses the feelings of people. It is a deep rooted desire to create a joyful community around us. It is deeply woven in our cultural fabric – with practices of dāna’ in Hinduism, bhiksha in Buddhism or zakat in Islam that have been a part of Indian culture since time immemorial. These practices have influenced the way ‘giving’ is often perceived – a selfless charitable act to meet the needs of those who need it more and in turn, give their blessings that get added to our karmic bank.

It is this feeling of spreading joy through simple acts of ‘giving’ that prompted my colleagues in Sanofi India take to the concept of “Daan Utsav” so enthusiastically across the country over several years. This philosophy is now deeply ingrained in the DNA of Sanofi India. 

‘Daan Utsav’ marks the beginning of a festival, which creates a deep sense of connection and solidarity amongst all of us. For instance, ‘Soul Curry’ is an event that is celebrated during the week, wherein employees compete against each other to raise maximum funds that is donated to NGOs with food they have cooked at home or cooked collectively as teams. 

Last year, Sanofi’s senior leadership from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, joined other head office employees in Mumbai, and cumulatively managed to raise Rs. 100,000/- in a single afternoon. More than the generous collection, what is really important here is the tremendous camaraderie in the room with teams prepping their food together and forming strategies to get buyers to their stalls, and most importantly, working together towards a larger purpose! 

This festival is extended to families with a colleague bringing coconut cake made by her sister, another bringing chocolates made by his daughter, while an entire team combining to make delicious ice-cream sundaes!This is ‘giving’ in its true spirit – building connections and coming together towards achieving a common goal of reducing inequity in the society.

We all know the deep sense of satisfaction we get by giving to those less privileged than us. But ‘giving’ goes beyond experiencing a sense of satisfaction. A recent study published in Nature Communications established that generosity makes one happier. And happiness is contagious! 

Last year during ‘Daan Utsav’ this spark of happiness was ignited at Sanofi India when 356 employees across 15 locations volunteered their time and effort on the same day at the same time towards a noble cause. Can you imagine the positive energy this generated? I can assure you that no amount of appreciation or rewards could achieve this feat.

‘Dāna’ is not charity. Charity sometimes shows superiority and privileged position of the giver. For me, dāna is an act that spreads positivity across communities. In addition to reducing inequity, ‘giving’ brings people together, creates a multiplier effect that not only helps the receiver but the giver as well. In organisations, this philosophy creates pride, engagement and happiness, which in turn results in better productivity.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Dr. Shailesh Ayyangar

The author is Head- Strategic Projects, General and Emerging Markets (Asia), Sanofi

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