Do as you say

A large part of our work consists of building the capacities of local colleagues by sharing our knowledge and skills. That is what makes working for VSO unique. We don’t do projects ourselves, but do them together with local colleagues, in the process building their skills (the reverse works as well, of course). An important way of doing that is by setting a good example. When it is important people will arrive on time at meetings (or arrive at work at all), make sure you’re on time yourself. When you want people to share information and plan their work, show how you do it by sharing what you’re working at and how and when you will do it. Everywhere this is an important aspect of the method of working of VSO, and maybe in Cambodia it’s even more important. Because of their culture here people will not say anything when things are happening that are not right. At the same time they will look at influential people (and, unfortunately, foreigners are exactly that) to know what behaviour is really expected from them. Do what you say and say what you do is core of your credibility and potential to realise change.

So sharing your knowledge and skills is core to working with VSO. What I like is that they do it at home as well. For years now, VSO has had a partnership with Randstad. Randstad shares their knowledge and experience regarding recruitment with VSO so they can recruit the best volunters and employees of Randstad get the possibility to work in a developing country for three to six months, which brings new experiences and highly motivated people back to Randstad. Last month, this partnership had lasted 10 year already. Of course that was reason for celebration, including all kinds of marketing and promotion for both organisations. In my opinion though, something went wrong there. Randstad sponsors a Formula-1 racing team. One of the cars from that team drove the race on Silverstone with the VSO-logo instead of the Randstad logo. Moreover, one of the young volunteers from VSO got the opportunity to visit the team for a day. VSO extensively reports about all this on it’s website. Great opportunity, of course, all that free exposure, and very logical to give a lot of attention and publicity to it. But still…

VSO has a strategy that defines priorities on which areas to work in, where and which kind of programmes VSO develops and deploys people. One of those areas, in every country, worldwide, is climate change. It might be a separate program to mitigate the consequences of climate change for the local population, or it might be integrated in other existing programmes, as a lot of the countries where VSO works are extremely vulnerable for the consequences of climate change, especially the poor people. It should work the other way around as well, VSO wants to contribute to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, for example by reducing the number of flights as far as possible. But if you really think climate change is important and want everyone in your organisation to pay attention to that, how does that correspond with connecting your name to the Formula-1? Is this really setting the good example and do as you say?

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