Q&A with Keysight India Leaders: Recent Community Initiatives and Adjustments Made Through Pandemic

By Michele Robinson-Pontbriand | Director, Corporate Social Responsibility
Dec 2, 2021 12:00 PM ET
Keysight Technologies COVID-19 vaccination logistics van

The Keysight India team has long taken its responsibility to their surrounding community to heart and have done so with alignment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the country focus on supporting local communities by helping secure livelihoods, imparting knowledge through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, building environmental consciousness, and most recently providing support during the pandemic. 

Sudhir Tangri, Vice President & Country General Manger for Keysight India and Naresh N. Asnani, Country Communications & CSR Manager, are at the forefront of making this positive community impact towards building a better planet with a human touch. This commitment continued with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I spoke with Sudhir and Naresh about Keysight India’s most recent community initiatives and the adjustments that were made through the pandemic.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the whole world, the crisis in India reached a difficult phase during the spring of 2021. What did Keysight India feel its responsibility was to employees and the surrounding community?

Keysight’s business continuity planning and decisions prepared us to meet the challenges of 2020-21 while supporting local communities and maintaining our vision of building a better planet through CSR. As with Keysight’s company-wide approach, Keysight India’s topmost priority during the pandemic has been the safety and health of our employees and their families, and of course the local communities in our surrounding area. 

From employees and their family’s perspective, ahead of government regulations and requirements, we halted domestic and international travel, asked employees to work from home and temporarily closed operations. During site closures, we continued to pay employees and contractors regardless of work location with no salary cuts or lay-offs. 

When closures were lifted locally, we implemented rigorous safety procedures and protocols for employees working at sales and service sites to support essential business operations. A significant part of our workforce continues to work from home; working on-site remains voluntary and subject to a strong business reason. A regular communications cadence has ensured that we stay connected with employees and keep them engaged.  

Our country crisis management team (CMT) executed appropriate actions to ensure the health and safety of employees and maintain business continuity while closely monitoring the local situation and government notifications. Specific actions include:

  • Resuming site operations after shutdowns and ensuring all local government approvals, guidelines and norms continue to be followed.
  • Building a robust process for employees to work on-site and visit customer sites with the utmost safety.
  • Instituting a ‘COVID Care Task Force’ to support those who were struggling during the devastating second wave. Keysight task force “warriors,” as we call them, worked endlessly to coordinate support for impacted employees and their families during this critical phase.
  • Development of a Covid Care Information Web portal, a crowdsourcing web platform for gathering and sharing critical information related to medical supplies, COVID care facilities, vaccination centers, beds, oxygen, etc.  
  • Providing oxygen concentrators for our employees and their family members who were affected and needed this critical life support.
  • Enabling a vaccination drive for our employees and their families at our India office when it was difficult to get inoculated. 
  • Instituting many other programs that were rolled out to support employees and their families, such as a family medical assistance helpline, medical tele-consultation services, health and wellness sessions, a COVID care package for all, an employee relief fund to help employees facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, and offering COVID medical insurance at a nominal self-funded cost. 

Additionally, we initiated a crowdfunding platform to raise funds for our COVID response community programs from interested employees, customers, partners, vendors, etc. who wanted to do their part to make a difference. 

As part of our pandemic response for the community, we partnered with local civic bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help our communities in multiple ways by providing support at all the key stages of combating COVID. Actions for the community provided critical medical, testing, education, and health and human services offerings. Keysight India, to date, has supported more than 8 lakh (800,000) lives through initiatives such as the following: 

  • Setting up an oxygen generation plant that provides support for 115 hospital beds in the city of Bengaluru, directly touching more than 250 lives every month.
  • Accelerating vaccination programs by providing a vaccination logistics van to local civic authorities in the cities of Gurugram and Bengaluru, which has resulted in the successful inoculation of more than 5 lakhs (500,000) beneficiaries so far, and growing every day.
  • COVID care and vaccination facility set-up for support in Gurugram.
  • Supporting education and basic sustenance expenses of 41 female children who were left abandoned or vulnerable due to COVID. 
  • Helping set up a second RT-PCR COVID testing facility in Gurugram with a capacity of 1000+ tests every day.
  • Donating essential food and hygiene supplies to 1000+ families, 4500+ individuals.
  • Providing health kits and medical supplies to Civil Hospital in Gurugram.
  • Mobilizing timely delivery of relief materials and medical supplies to needy community members, medical facilities, hospitals, and institutions.

Looking forward, Keysight continues to actively monitor the COVID-19 situation as it evolves and will take additional steps as necessary to protect employees, customers, shareholders, and local communities throughout the dynamic and ongoing impact of this pandemic.

That is a lot of amazing work in the face of such a difficult situation! While the COVID pandemic has been a driving force of recent CSR efforts, Keysight India has long invested in STEM education and resources as well. Can you tell me more about those efforts and how they have been adjusted during the pandemic?  

Our flagship STEM education endeavor in India is the STEM on Wheels program. It is a first-of-its-kind program to promote STEM education in middle school children by bringing experiential learning closer to them. Hands-on learning tools, kits and teaching practices are used in this program to help children become intuitive and curious about the scientific concepts behind how things work or happen. The program imparts knowledge based on real experiences and thus helps children acquire next-generation skills needed for the future.

As COVID hit, the STEM on Wheels program was quick to adapt. We found different ways to reach middle school children and allow them to continue their STEM education by meeting them in their neighborhoods and schools as well as engaging virtually with them through our STEM experiments digital tutorials and resources, science contests, online quiz competition, etc. Additionally, we also conducted COVID sensitization sessions and workshops on life skills, managing stress, and wellness for the children.

And how about other projects Keysight India has supported in the community.

Keysight India has long supported communities with various program offerings. One that we are particularly proud of is our livelihood support program, which is helping 19 differently-abled women to become independent. Under this program, sewing machines were distributed to secure the livelihood of these women and their beneficiaries while helping them become self-reliant. 

Another amazing program we have is one that is providing scholarships to 9 female students from under-resourced communities to fulfill their aspirations. With this support, they have been able pursue their professional educational goals and careers.

It would be remiss not to mention our work on the environment front as well. Keysight India has helped in creating an eco-friendly park to inspire smart, aesthetic waste management solutions in Gurugram. This park, ‘Samadhaan Hub’, has been instrumental in making local communities environmentally conscious and encouraging them to look at different ways to renew, reuse, recycle and upcycle.

Keysight India has been recognized for its reinvestment of profits into the community. It’s very inspiring to see this recognition for all the work done. 

Yes, that’s right, Keysight India is humbled to be recognized for our community work, including most recently receiving the Mahatma Award 2021 for CSR Excellence’ by Liveweek. We also received the CSR Health Impact Award 2021 from the Integrated Health & Wellbeing Council (IHW) — a prestigious health & wellbeing advocacy institution in India — for the category ‘CSR COVID Relief Project - Community Outreach Programs for COVID-19 in India.’

It is personally very gratifying to work in a role that can not only drive future technological innovations but also give back and support local communities. These external recognitions are the icing on the cake so to speak. We are all very proud of the work Keysight has done here.

What are Keysight India’s CSR priorities for 2022, and are there new initiatives that you can tell me about?  

While we continue with our ongoing CSR programs and actively monitor the COVID-19 situation for an appropriate response, we are looking at different means to support vulnerable communities, uplift villages, and accelerate research.

For example, the urban and rural divide with regards to basic services such as infrastructure, education facilities, health care and economic opportunities is glaring. With 65% of people residing in rural India (per World Bank) it is important to bridge the gap to support the development and well-being of our rural communities. With this intent we plan to adopt a village, then plan and implement various interventions to help support its community prosperity.

Securing the livelihood of the differently-abled is another area we are considering additional efforts in. Keysight India is building an integrated program through which we impart the requisite training needed for such individuals to be employable in different companies, banks, and government institutions.  

We are also assessing a few projects aimed at accelerating research in technologies of the future at India’s leading engineering institutions. 

Keysight India is committed to build a better planet through our continuous and ongoing CSR programs, all with a human touch. With a global framework of ethical, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible operations, we look forward to making further progress and doing our part to make a better tomorrow.

I applaud the work our Keysight India team has done, and continues to do, to help make the world better. Thank you!