Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Colombia has traditionally meant philanthropic activities with very little focus placed on long-term, inclusive and engaged business practices. CSR continues to be something that only larger corporations can spend time and resources on to develop and implement robust, company-wide programs. It makes sense considering that 95% of Colombian businesses are micro-businesses of 1-10 people. However, that does not mean that businesses are not investing in CSR practices, but rather that the practices may not be formalized. As individuals and companies push for more sustainable and robust CSR practices, the role of CSR in Colombia is quickly evolving.
Companies that actively engage in the communities in which they work and pay close attention to the impact made on the well-being of society, tend to have a strong inclination to make better products, support local economies, invest in staff development, and engage in other activities geared towards improving quality of life and communities.
CSR at PSL
PSL was founded with a strong commitment to always positively contribute to the societies in which we are engaged and working. While we strive for the company to succeed as a business venture, our work will always be conducted with the clear purpose of making a difference, providing meaning and ultimately contributing to the nations in which we operate. As a software outsourcing provider with a nearshoring model, our work extends far beyond the borders of Colombia, so we make an effort to ensure our CSR impact extends far beyond our offices in Bogotá, Medellin, and Mexico City.
As such, PSL directs robust CSR initiatives both internally and externally, and what follows is an introduction to the activities initiated or attended by PSL employees in 2017 within the sphere of Community Involvement and Development.
- PSL-taught University Courses
- PAE (Programa Académico Especial): The course is taught entirely in English over 16 weeks and focuses on introducing comprehensive programming concepts and new technologies and frameworks based on the current demand in the tech market and PSL's experience. The course is robust and requires students to complete programming assignments, improve their English skills, and demonstrate a working knowledge of systems by completing a final project. Currently, 16 students are enrolled in the class.
- PRAXIS: Over 8 weeks the course introduces engineering practices that help students conduct quality software development by using contemporary techniques for the analysis and design of code. The course supplements CS courses at the universities to expose students to relevant material used in software engineering businesses. Currently, 19 students are enrolled in the class.
- Empowering Women in Tech
- Software Girls, a group of female employees from PSL, have committed to increasing the # of females in roles at PSL, and exposing more girls to science, math, and engineering education and career tracks in Colombia by serving as mentors and organizing workshops, conferences, and other events in collaboration with other organizations and businesses. Some of their successes include: Workshop in Arduino attended by 15 girls, elective "Intro to Programming" class planned for high schoolers in 2018, and LATINITY (Latin American Women in Technology Conference) 2018 logistics planning
[SUPER RELEVANT CONTENT: WOMEN IN TECH | PSL's Software Girls]
- Tech Engagement
- Meetups: PSL and employees of PSL host meetups about technical topics where they hold expertise. Organizers invite participants from around the area to begin discussions, lectures or interact with other developers and software enthusiasts. The idea is to introduce and discuss relevant themes in software engineering and give individuals a space to network. In 2017, so far PSL has conducted 8 Meetups on topics like, Big Data, Machine Learning, Data Science, etc., and 1 Meetup specifically for girls interested in tech.
- Student Engagement at Universities
- University visits: Each year, PSL visits with numerous universities around the country to host programming challenges, encourage students to study software engineering and information technologies degrees, and provide general information about PSL and working internationally, attend labor fairs, host workshops and conferences or interactive discussions. So far in 2017, 60 visits have been initiated by PSL staff across Colombia.
- Student Engagement at Middle and High Schools
- Student Visit and Technology Orientation: Students from some of the most underprivileged cities within the department of Antioquia are invited to visit PSL and spend the day learning about software engineering. The objective of the program is to motivate high school students to pursue a career in information technology. These students lack the support and knowledge about information technology as a career option due in large part to their socioeconomic status. PSL works in collaboration with RED de Media Técnica en Informática de Antioquia. This year, 40 students from over 9 different high schools visited PSL to witness firsthand the day of a PSL employee, meet with developers and other professionals, and gain a better understanding of what it means to study computer science.