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At Ahn Labs, Donation Culture Reigns

Posted December. 02, 2006 07:27,   


Ahn Labs is located on the 6th floor of the CCMM building in Yeouido, Seoul. The first thing you see when you walk into this company is a “tree of love” hanging on the notice board. On this big tree, there are apples with people’s names on them. The names are of employees who are participating in the firm’s “sharing 1 percent” campaign, where participants donate 1 percent of their pay.

This organization was the first to participate in The Beautiful Foundation’s “making a beautiful workplace by sharing” campaign.

In October 2005, the foundation proposed this campaign not to the management but to the workers first.

Groups that were already active in the company including the Beautiful shop (donating unused materials) and Shinwoo group (helping the disabled) enthusiastically accepted the proposal.

Management agreed to back the workers’ decision. The original groups voluntarily organized a sharing committee separately from the firm and campaigned for the “sharing 1 percent” movement.

Last November 8 at 1:00 p.m. when lunchtime was nearly over, workers appeared with pink cotton candy in front of the company. With a cotton candy-making machine that Roh In-geol, a senior researcher, borrowed, they produced round cotton candies. However, those were not free.

Helpers presented cotton candies with a note to colleagues who were returning from lunch. On the note, it stated that they will participate in the sharing 1 percent campaign.

Thirty workers promised to participate while eating their sweet candies on that day. After a year, 120 out of 350 workers of Ahn Labs are donating 1 percent of their income to the Beautiful Foundation.

Sharing box

In this company, sharing is an everyday activity.

Sharing with popcorn, sharing red-bean soup, and folding yellow notes.

In every activity such as dinner party or athletic meeting, there is an event where part of the cost is donated.

Is there pressure to participate because of the sharing-orientated environment of the company?

Song Eui-jin of the finance department said, “While I was an intern at a big company, I had to donate, but here we are not forced to do anything. Therefore I do not feel any pressure.” She added, “As donation becomes a habit, sharing boxes are seen as just like fax or copying machines.”

Roh, a researcher participating in the sharing committee, noted, “Sharing requires a lot of attention.” His point is that we should check on where and how the donated money is used.

Ahn Labs’ researchers visited the Beautiful Foundation before they got involved in the beautiful workplace campaign to decide on how to use the donated money. They decided on an alienated area book sending fund.

Why is the workplace important as a sharing place?

“It is because most of our 24 hours are spent at work during a day. Sharing at work is the first step in making donations an everyday activity,” said Lee Byeong-cheol, assistant manager.