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When lightning strikes: social projects that make a world of difference

Integration and impacts at the centre of Pirelli corporate citizenship

Home life When lightning strikes: social projects that make a world of difference
When lightning strikes: social projects that make a world of difference

Carrying out intricate repairs to a giant hand of Christ is not in the usual run of affairs for the Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli. But when the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro was struck by lightning, Pirelli stepped in to finance the restoration work. The repairs came just ahead of Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup, and, with millions of tourists expected, it was a cultural imperative to have the statue safe and looking its best.

“For a monument like this, that hosts two million guests a year – probably three million in 2014 – damage cannot be left unattended,” said Paolo Dal Pino, president of Pirelli South America, at the time.

Celebration
Pirelli’s decision to finance the repairs was a social project in line with its “corporate citizenship” philosophy and coincided with its own celebrations of 85 years in Brazil. “Restoring Christ the Redeemer is the best thing we could do to thank this country and celebrate this anniversary,” Dal Pino added.

Sustainability is at the core of Pirelli. Since it was founded more than 140 years ago, the company has regarded its environment as a fundamental resource to be husbanded and nurtured. This philosophy isn’t just limited to the efficient use of resources, attention to its carbon footprint and developing advanced products that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It extends into governance and social targets, including the aim to add value to the communities where the company operates in line with Sustainable Development Goals and as enshrined in Pirelli Values and Ethical Code.

Most of Pirelli’s social projects involve local schemes focused on training, health and quality of life. It might be a social media campaign about the importance of tyre maintenance and road safety, or participation in a recycling day in Russia, but occasionally a project like the Rio statue makes worldwide headlines.

Local support
In 2014 Pirelli spent a total of €6.5m on social projects, much of it in emerging markets and developing countries in local currency. The projects are managed locally and must meet strict key performance indicators (KPIs). It could be the number of families helped, number of students trained, or maybe an area of land cleaned up. The projects are then reviewed against quantitative criteria to give stakeholders numbers they understand. For this KPIs are a common language.

In China, Pirelli has developed an internship programme that offers university students the chance to train at its Yanzhou factory, while a scholarship programme at the Qingdao University of Science and Technology supports 25 outstanding students. It also supports the China Confucius website which conducts research into Confucianism.

In Russia, Pirelli has paid for and planted 5.000 small oaks as part of World Recycling Day, sponsored a charity ball in Voronezh, where it is also involved in collaborating on a series of lectures on chemical engineering, and also sponsored a media festival in Kirov, where students at the university are also offered internships. 

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Value and tangible impacts
Big projects include the Inter Campus programme in partnership with the Italian football club Inter Milan that gives hundreds of boys and girls aged between six and 13 the chance to learn and develop from playing football each year. 


Another is a link with a hospital in Slatina, Romania, where Pirelli has a factory. The company supports the professional training of medical and nursing professionals from Slatina Hospital in collaboration with the Niguarda Hospital in Milan. Over 250 professionals have been trained in this programme, specifically in oncology, paediatric care and emergency care. Pirelli has also donated medical equipment and devices to Slatina hospital.


“In each case we work to make a difference and are having a positive impact,” says Dr Eleonora Giada Pessina, Pirelli Group Sustainability and Diversity Officer. “The projects don’t have to be big or famous like the Rio project, they just have to be effective. That is our main criteria and goal.”

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