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Staff drive Shell Singapore's social investment efforts

In the past 18 months, iVolunteers membership has grown 15 times - from 20 to 300 - with members completing more than 12 hours of volunteering activities each month in the last year.


OIL and gas giant Shell is easily one of the most recognisable brands in the world. For many years, Shell employees worldwide have been supporting various causes which include the empowerment of women, supporting the elderly as well as children with learning difficulties.

With a presence in Singapore for over 125 years, Shell has been a familiar face in social investment programmes, the most recognisable being the Shell Traffic Games. Launched in 1958 by then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, it has educated more than one million school children on the importance of road safety.

The company's latest initiative is staff-driven - Shell iVolunteers is a ground-up movement started by a group of employees in July 2015.

The programme's objectives are to promote sustained and integrated volunteering efforts across the organisation, which iVolunteers sees as critical in achieving measurable and impactful outcomes for their beneficiaries. The programme also promotes diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.

Raghu Ram, HR manager of Specialties and Shell iVolunteers chairman, says: "This network enables our colleagues from different businesses and functions, as well as different positions in the organisational hierarchy, to work shoulder-to-shoulder towards a common goal."

An example of this cross department partnership is seen in the programmes that Shell has with Lakeside Family Services. One of these initiatives was a fund-raising campaign called #125daysofgiving, which was part of Shell's 125th anniversary celebrations. Shell staff donated their loose change - collected in vintage memento Shell tin cans - daily for 125 days. More than S$22,000 was collected to fund a student care programme with Lakeside Family Services for less-privileged children in Jurong.

On top of the programme's efforts with Lakeside, the iVolunteers also work with communities suggested by the Southwest Community Development Council. One such event was a community high-tea session organised by Shell iVolunteers, who were also joined by their families.

"With Shell iVolunteers and their young family members, we are happy that we can bring some joy and cheer through an inter-generation effort," says Tan Li Ching, strategic marketing manager in Shell Chemicals, who led a high-tea session for 120 elderly residents in Telok Blangah. The nascent programme has seen strong growth since its inception.

In the past 18 months, iVolunteers membership has grown 15 times - from 20 to 300 - with members completing more than 12 hours of volunteering activities each month in the last year.

Mr Ram is bullish on the continued growth of iVolunteers at Shell. "In our second Shell Volunteering Week (a volunteer sign-up drive) from April 24 to April 28, we hope to at least double our membership so that more staff from various work sites can connect with each other to become a force for good," he says.

"Shell iVolunteers believe that keeping focused is key to achieving sustained and impactful outcomes for our beneficiaries. This year, Shell iVolunteers have continued our partnership with our selected beneficiary partners," he adds. The intent is clear - long-term partnerships between the iVolunteers and their beneficiaries are here to stay.

  • This article is part of a series of stories covering companies contributing towards underserved causes. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as media partner. Visit for more information.

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