Dole plc announced that The American-Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) recognized their pineapple operations in Costa Rica, with the Social Responsibility in Action Award in the Employees Category for their project “Information and Wellbeing Centers.”
AmCham distinguished this project as the overall Grand Winner among over 40 submittals in the chamber’s Corporate Social Responsibility event. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the award and the first year when a Grand Winner was selected among all proposals.
What is Information and Wellbeing Centers initiative?
The “Information and Wellbeing Centers” is an integrated initiative that works toward positively impacting the lives of farm employees and families by providing access to information from over thirty public and private organizations that interact with citizens daily.
The concept was developed through a diagnosis to understand the major needs that the Dole rural workforce has and how the company could assist in better fulfilling these needs.
A myriad of paperwork and processes that workers and families are confronted with—and have difficulty resolving—or result in lost opportunities, were identified. Dealing with bureaucracy also results in lost time and revenue, increased expenses, long distance travel, and diminished livelihoods in rural areas that have limited public and private services.
The Information Centers allow Dole workers to access services for themselves or direct family members to resolve issues linked to their social benefits, residence, personal finance and much more. Those issues would be difficult or too costly to solve by themselves.
Commenting on the initiative, one Dole farmworker stated, “My spouse could not receive medical attention because she did not have a formal job and did not have the resources to make contributions to the medical plan. Thanks to the intervention of the Information Center we managed to make the registration and my spouse can enjoy social security benefits.”
Dole is the first business in the country to offer this free service to its farm employees directly. The Information and Wellbeing Center is a resource at the hands of 3,300 workers and their families, which promotes family development, a sense of belonging and motivation.
What does the recognition mean for Dole?
“We are proud to receive two awards at this prestigious social responsibility event. The designation as Grand Winner among so many fine examples of social responsibility is a testament to the team effort required to conceive and build these Centers for our farm employees,” said Mr. Renieri Nuñez, Vice President of Pineapple Operations for Latin America.
“There is no doubt that when efforts are focused on the person, our major company asset, results can be amazing. This started as an idea to solve paperwork problems and has turned out to be the most significant step in motivating employees at all levels in our organization and producing tangible results in the lives of our families,” Mr. Renieri Nuñez further said.
The centers provide training on the use of digital platforms and support for information, advice, and follow-up of personal cases and procedures with the participating organizations.
How impactful has the initiative been?
Some of the achievements are reflected in the positive impact on household finances, use of time, and in the reduction of geographic, technological, educational, economic, and social gaps. Families have greater access to citizen rights, public and private benefits, services, and opportunities. By assisting its employees with this unique service, Dole has enjoyed increased commitment, reduced absenteeism, and created a very positive workplace environment.
The project by the numbers (as of August 2022):
- Information centers have now been extended to all four company pineapple farms.
- 3,978 users have been served by the centers.
- 11,552 services provided.
- 10,195 inquiries via WhatsApp.
- 6,378 interventions have been successful in obtaining results such as licenses, passports, national and residence cards, insurance, loans, opening of bank or savings accounts, and procedures on computer platforms, among others.
- At least 2,170 services have contributed to address multidimensional poverty.
- On average, 34.4% of users have used the center on more than one occasion.
- 536 workers have been trained in the management of personal procedures.
In 2020, Dole introduced its three-pillared Sustainability Framework, The Dole Way, and its ongoing commitment For Food, For Nature and For People. Just as Dole Costa Rica was a pioneer nearly 25 years ago in the development of global environmental management systems in agriculture to frame its efforts ‘For Nature,’ at the beginning of this decade the company once again innovates by establishing Information and Wellbeing Centers.