I am not going to lie, when I got the job offer to start the new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, Celanese Connects, I had no idea what I was in for. Before this I was working as a project manager in the IT department. I worked on an assortment of projects including the data center relocation. It was a huge change to say the least. But I was up for the challenge and absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to be a part of a new program that affects employees around the world.
When we began communicating the new CSR program, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, I really wasn’t sure what the response was going to be. The cultures are much different in Europe and China than they are in the US. We had to figure out a plan to engage employees globally and find ways to appeal to all cultures.
One of our first initiatives was to develop and implement Celanese Global Impact Week. This is one week out of the year that employees could unite as one to make a visible impact in their communities. The response was almost unbelievable. Employees jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this. When we looked at the numbers our employees contributed, 4,500 hours in 5 days, we quickly realized that we were on to something big and were excited to see that giving back was so important to Celanese employees.
In addition, we set out to support STEM education in the Dallas community. One of our initial partnerships is with Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Through this program, high school students can get hands on experience working with the latest engineering and innovative technologies. Getting this class off the ground was challenging at first. Working with PLTW, we had to find the right school for this program, hire and train a teacher and make sure enough students signed up for the class. We were very pleased that we found Emilie Baxter as our teacher. When we recently visited the class we quickly realized what a big difference she has made in just one year of teaching.
Building the Celanese Connects program over the past year has been an incredible experience. I am looking forward to seeing how the next 365 days will make a difference in our communities and in the lives of Celanese employees.