The Mercedes-Benz corporate social responsibility committee is celebrating its fifth anniversary and is now reaching out to a wider range of communities in need, as part of an effort to increase social acceptance of gender and cultural diversity.
Dimitris Psillakis, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz CSR committee, speaks at a ceremony in Seoul on Thursday to commemorate the committee’s fifth anniversary. (Mercedes-Benz Korea)
Saying the CSR program had reached its “adolescence,” Dimitris Psillakis -- chairman of the Mercedes-Benz CSR committee, which is made up of the carmaker and its dealers -- said the multibillion-won charity platform would expand its educational programs to help younger students and women find their career paths and would also diversify its Give N’ program to promote public awareness about giving.
Shattering the stereotype of the automotive industry as an exclusively male domain is another of its goals.
“I would like to see more ladies joining our program, breaking taboos that automotive industry is not for men but for everyone,” he said in an interview. “I would like to see people accepting that vehicles can be picked up for service and maintenance from a lady.”
The local unit of the German luxury carmaker has been carrying out CSR activities here to help local communities achieve sustainable growth. The committee has consisted of three Daimler AG subsidiaries and 11 official dealers in South Korea since its launch in 2014.
Under the official slogan “Mercedes-Benz Promise,” the committee runs four major programs, including a traffic safety education program for children and a training program for job seekers. This year it added a donation program, “Mercedes-Benz Give,” as a way to increase public participation. For the past five years, the committee has raised around 18.1 billion won ($15.67 million).
Asked about the pressure that foreign companies in Korea face to expand CSR activities, Psillakis said the company seeks a balance between business and social development, and that CSR activities define its business attitude toward the society where it operates.
“Our role as a company -- whether we are operating in Korea, Brazil, Germany and Russia, wherever around the world -- we are the same,” he said. “We believe in balance between developing the business and understanding the culture of the country and within that context we would have a balanced approach.”
This file photo shows Dimitris Psillakis (center), chairman of the Mercedes-Benz CSR committee, posing with the winners of the company’s third traffic safety contest for children. (Mercedes-Benz Korea)
Koreans, being sensitive by nature, keep the committee “diligent,” he said.
“Koreans are very sensitive, very emotional in total, wanting to understand what’s behind,” he said.
“For us, we have to be diligent. It is not a one-man decision. It is a committee where you have different partners, dealers, foreigners. … Whatever decision we make, it should fit perfectly to the profile of Korean people.”
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org