Telum Talks To...Devy Yheanne, Country Leader of Communications and Public Affairs, Johnson & Johnson Indonesia
As an environmentalist at heart with a background in forestry, Devy Yheanne always questions whether she is having a positive impact for the future, big or small. Telum spoke to Devy on finding sustainability and the importance of corporate social responsibility especially during the pandemic and tips on being a good in-house communicator.
Today, as the Country Leader of Communications and Public Affairs, with more than two decades of experience in the communications industry, Devy’s forestry background has helped her to understand the ecological responsibility that large companies can carry. “Businesses have contributed to the ecological crisis and have ignored the environment or social costs to pursue profit. To reverse the effects the business will have to move the markets towards more sustainable practices,” she said.
“There have been so many tough discussions on this involving corporations and environmentalists - but many failed due to headstrong arguments from both sides,” she recalls. This inspired her to consider working for a big corporation to understand how they work as well as to embed sustainability and environmental responsibility into their strategies.
She tries to bring those principles to Johnson & Johnson’s CSR programmes, including their latest project, Saving Lives at Birth. The project is a maternal, neonatal and child health programme held in the Serang district, Banten Province, Indonesia.
“The project aims to contribute to the reduction of maternal and child morbidity by strengthening health provider capacity and skills, increasing access to quality maternal and child health services and improving the knowledge and practice of healthy behaviours among women of reproductive age and mothers of children under five years of age,” said Devy.
CSR during the pandemic
CSR is definitely one way for corporations to give back to society. To develop meaningful programmes is a challenge but to establish and execute them when people are forced to stay in during the COVID-19 era takes the challenge to another level.
It has been more than a decade since the Indonesian Government strictly mandated corporations to engage in corporate social responsibility. The 2007 Law on Limited Liability Company regulates the corporate social and environmental responsibility of companies, requiring that companies, mainly state-owned enterprises and those in the energy and extractive industries, must fulfil their CSR obligations.
COVID-19 has also caused significant implications on social, economic and psychological aspects of life, especially for the nation's most vulnerable communities. “Twenty-five million people in the informal sector are at risk of being unemployed, with 8 million people at risk of being terminated from their employment,” she added.
With this, Devy mentioned that companies will need to be flexible and plan their next steps accordingly. “Companies may have already planned or even executed their existing CSR programs, often going through months-long processes of assessments and approvals. But, in times of crisis, it is speed, flexibility, and innovation that will provide the most beneficial solutions to the problems in a community.”
She further elaborated that long-term CSR programmes can help communities to not only survive the pandemic but thrive after the epidemic has passed, particularly when done in partnership with corporates.
“Companies can play a critical role by altering and switching their existing CSR programmes to better respond to their communities' needs. The ability to swiftly work in crisis mode, provide immediate emergency response, and assist the government in its response programme will redefine the longevity and standing of companies in their communities for months and even years to come.”
Being a good in-house communicator
Based on her experience, Devy shared some tips for in-house communicators including to listen more than you speak, focus on understanding what people say, pay attention to non-verbal communication and beware misunderstandings.
“Good communicators focus intensely on understanding what people are communicating; otherwise, they find themselves arguing and losing focus. They continually check their understanding to avoid miscommunications, misunderstandings, and assumptions,” she added. It is also important to get to know the business, “A good in-house communicator is competent and has vast knowledge about their areas of expertise. They are prepared to show people that their communication is valuable”.