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Sylvain Rochon, March 14 2022

Irakli Zhorzholiani - Solidarity with Ukraine, Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility

A CykoMetrix Spotlight - SPECIAL EDITION

The application mentioned below can be downloaded from Google Play at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=world.doers

For more information, please visit:  www.Solidarity.ge

Usually, CykoMetrix Spotlight highlights individuals who create, use, or evaluate psychometric assessments. Recently we have connected with a company in Georgia (Eastern Europe), who had an interesting social responsibility story to tell. So, this blog will be about how companies can help others by shifting production or processes. Irakli Zhorzholiani is the Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Development at Jobia LLC, a software development company focused on helping to match people looking for work with prospective employers. As soon as the crisis in nearby Ukraine started, Irakli’s company adapted their software for another purpose: to help people in need in Ukraine. They called the new application Solidarity.

We were happy to create the opportunity to advertise the application and the Jobia staff’s efforts to help the people of Ukraine. Hopefully, us shifting our own plans to help by doing this interview can give additional incentives to other companies to adopt a socially responsible posture.


The following is an adapted transcript of the exchange between Sylvain Rochon, CMO at CykoMetrix as host, and Irakli Zhorzholiani, Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Development at Jobia, LLC:

Sylvain Rochon: We encountered an opportunity this week, where a company from Georgia, Eastern Europe, contacted us and we immediately told ourselves, "Well, we can't do the usual because here's another project we can work on in reaction to what is happening in Ukraine." We decided we must put them under the Spotlight to tell us what their project is about, to talk about Social Organizational Responsibility, and what companies can do when something happening elsewhere. I think this is a great example of a company that is reactive to people's feelings, and I want to tell this story. Let me introduce you to Irakli Zhorzholiani. 

 Thank you Irakli. Tell us about your company, your endeavour, and Solidarity. Why now, why is this important, why the shift in business to engage with this? 

Irakli: Well, thank you for this kind of opportunity to represent our young developer company, which is aiming to provide some mobile apps and other interesting devices for local mobile and local contacts on a global market as well. However, at this moment we are very deeply concerned about the ongoing process in Ukraine because many innocent people are dying there, children, women, and we spread kind of solidarity for women to try to figure out what kind of service we could provide them, without any charge or anything to help our Ukrainian friends. 

 We modified our mobile application. It was created during the pandemic period, and it's a way flexible device connecting volunteers and those people who are affected with problems during COVID. Currently, we have modified this application as I mentioned, and we would like to help those people who urgently need food, shelter, medicine, clothing, transportation, and more. Most of them are disoriented and it's sad. 

 That's why we created this application. We would like to provide it to the Ukrainian government. It could become a way flexible tool to organize people and to use for humanitarian purposes and business. We would like to spread this information to all our friends in Canada as well to spread and enable the download of this application and enable Ukrainian citizens and refugees to be more organized and we would like to be more helpful about it. This application hopefully will be launched, and it's completely free. We have to stand together with Ukrainian people in these difficult moments.

Sylvain: I've been in software for years. My company, CykoMetrix, is in fact a software development company. We make software products, so I understand the challenges in adapting something that seems to already have been set up to do something else. My understanding is that it's a kind of service matchmaking software? 

Irakli: Yes, exactly. 

Sylvain: In this case, the goal would be to allow or to facilitate communication and exchange of resources perhaps between the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian government and resources from the outside, whether it's information or resources like tangible things. Although I'm curious how does the platform partner to facilitate delivery of items in a country that's effectively at war? Have you managed to tie that knot? 

Irakli: Yeah. Actually, we have some strategic communication fund as many Ukrainian people reside here, and all of them have interaction with their relatives, friends in Ukraine, and others. Also, some of them have links with the government as well. We would like to hand this application as soon as possible because it will help hundreds or thousands of people. It was like our attempt to do some kind of contribution to them. We also would like to speak soon in a video, and it will address all of our work. The instructions will be indicated there as well. 

Sylvain: Okay, cool. And this will be available on the Solidarity website? ( www.Solidarity.ge

Irakli: Yes, exactly. 

Sylvain: Let's go back to the main question. This is a reaction from you and your staff. You said there are Ukrainians living in Georgia, and you guys obviously feel strongly about this. Not everybody knows the history of Georgia, and why this could be something more important perhaps for you, living where you are than, let's say Canadians. Explain to us a little bit why this is so important for you guys living there? 

Irakli: Yeah, exactly. Thank you. Actually, Georgia already has experienced in 2008 this problem, a military intervention here [by Russia], so all of us are concerned because next it can become Georgia again or maybe Estonia, maybe Lithuania, maybe Latvia, I don't know. This is a really big challenge, a kind of international pressure.  It could be for us to help in order to avoid another war. That's why we express solidarity.  We don't want war. We have to unite, to stand together. Otherwise, if we divide in this process, it could negatively affect our life. For me, I was concerned about the conflict; from my childhood, I have experienced what you see and what it means. That's why we would like to be more helpful to our friends and express more solidarity. 

Sylvain: That's kind of important because at CykoMetrix, we deal a lot with what motivates people, because it's relative to HR.  Like you said, the history of Georgia is intertwined with the history of the old USSR, right? You also have a border with Russia; it's kind of a more visceral worry for you guys living there because of the history and a fairly recent history at that, as you explained. But what I'd like to illustrate is that you felt this, and you decided to do something. Right? Then, you converted an application to help. How reactive were your teams to this idea? Were there any that thought it wasn't a good idea or was it a very united front to shift and try to help? 

Irakli: Our team, as I mentioned, worked for a month on this application, but we would like to adapt this on current Ukrainian war. We thought that this would be the best thing we could provide because as we checked around, there is no such kind of application software connecting the volunteers and the war-affected to country-affected people, and we thought that it could be very good to help people. This is I guess, if not one of the best applications, but maybe it's the one which could provide good help. 

 Actually, we have refugees waiting at the Western border in Poland and now in Bulgaria, and I guess more than a million people are currently there, almost. To organize these people, this application is I think the best device, a more flexible organizing mobile device. 

Sylvain: It wasn't exclusively, "Well, let's stop everything and do something."  Like you said, you started building the app for communication during COVID. This is a business model that makes sense for the new application, and you didn’t want to drain your resources. It actually matches some of the business reasons [of the original application] as well. I raised this question because it's important to not destroy your company, for example, by doing some of these things because then you’d be causing other types of pain. But there are ways to adapt existing products to line up with what staff feel is important.  What the people inside their company feel is very important. How easy was it for you to pivot and to shift [the company] to do this, once you saw the situation change in Ukraine? 

Irakli: You mean about the application? 

Sylvain: Well, you. You have to kind of change direction in little time internally and what you were going to provide and work through the adaptations. How easy was it for the company to go," Okay, like we're doing this now, instead of doing what we were doing before".  How easy was it to kind of shift from one to the other? 

Irakli: Actually, the product was almost done because it was operating very well. However, we edited some points and some technical things within the interface to adapt more flexibly when this is complete. During the pandemic time, there was a launch year and called affected people, connecting them and providing them but the situation and nature of the war is completely different. And also it needed a kind of positive intervention in order to help our people. Some are also concerned about security and how long it works. 

Sylvain: What would be your message to other companies that are out there in Canada, the US, Europe, East and West, companies that may feel a bit the same as you that think this is important. What do you recommend they do? Not specifically with the product or services but generally as socially responsible entities. What do you think other companies should do in reaction to injustice in general? 

Irakli: I think that kind of cross-sectoral approach would be very good if all of us unite and help. In this initial stage, maybe you can join our initiative, and you can give some advice.  Some things you experienced would be very helpful for us, as many things are good to help these people. Our product is not focused on any business. It's completely free of charge. It's an expression of our solidarity. Solidarity is that kind of thing.  It has no limits. If you join and advise some interesting points for us, it would be very helpful. If you have any other approaches, it would be also very good for the Ukrainian people. 

 The point is, the more vulnerable a country is, the more work is destined for us together, because another country will experience these problems, then another and so on. It's a kind of a chain reaction. We have to stop this together, everything, in being more solidarity, and being one. 

Sylvain: It seems the idea is to encourage a positive, helpful reactions. Not only to solve some of the issues in this conflict but also to send a message to the trouble-makers. There is solidarity from anywhere in the world to support whoever is being oppressed or aggressed, even from the private sector, because we are private sector for-profit businesses.  We can react to these events. It's not only a push back from a government on the opposite side, but also from the people, from other companies. I don't know if you've heard about this, but I just want to illustrate an example of this. It looks like in Russia there was some shutdowns of internet access last week. In reaction, some companies that have the opportunity provided internet access. I'm talking about Elon Musk and Starlink. You feel that this is the kind of an example and reaction you expect from the private sector? 

Irakli: Yeah, the Starlink project in providing this help is very good because the internet is working very fast, and communication comes more easily. Of course, there are some security concerns as well and there was some kind of statement on how to use the internet because the government of Ukraine's idea is to call on the civilians to be more attentive. We try to be responsible. I don't know what's the nature of the activities they're in, but the thing is that they let us and very welcome to expression of our solidarity for Ukrainian people

Sylvain: Well, I was alluding to outside companies' reactions to the conflict; for example, Starlink’s is to continue internet coverage over Russia, right? There were other events, like banning of Twitter and things like that, so Russians couldn't communicate. So outside companies like Elon Musk’s in this case said, "Hey, here is free connectivity through Starlink." This bypasses the infrastructure that the Russian government controls. And that's great because no government was involved. It was just this private company that decided, "Well, I can do this, and here it is.” Similar to what you're doing, this is something we can do because we're software developers; we may have a platform we can adapt quickly and do this and that. Ultimately, in my mind Irakli, we are all participants in what's happening in the world. We're all connected, more so than ever before. 

Private companies that have adaptable software, for example, or hardware in space or whatever it is, can sometimes shift gears in reaction without government permission, just adapting what they're doing to help the people beautifully outside of their own purview, like you did in Georgia.  You're helping people in Ukraine by connecting them to people from Canada, US, Europe, or wherever. That's innovation at its best in reaction to a very political reality somewhere. You didn't ask the permission of the Georgian government to do this, or Russian government, or the Ukrainian. You just did it because you can. So, what do you think about that? 

Irakli: I agree with you that the world is interconnected, and there are some security reasons as well some policy levels on our part. At this moment, the main point is our desires that this war will be over. I don't know what the leadership of Starlink is thinking about in their policy, especially their coverage in Russia. Of course, now in this war, many things sound interconnected and merge together. Actually, it's not me as I’m not responsible or cynical to like policy or something like it. 

I believe that innovation is the way in terms of progressive transformation of communities and the way of the future. We are approaching the country to a fourth industrial revolution, or we are all living the fourth industrial revolution. We have to think about different ideas and many interesting things, The war is like wanting to go back to the 19th century. That is why the innovation, of course in Ukraine, especially in countries and could be where it is good otherwise in terms of transformation. We think about some things differently, but we cannot divide ourselves with politics because everything, as I mentioned, is interconnected. 

Sylvain: I think the message that we are all connected, and we each have a little power as individuals and as companies to influence each other.  You're doing something that causes positive influence to help and interconnect. So, it was very important to shed the CykoMetrix Spotlight on this particular event, on Solidarity as an example of what innovative companies can do in a very short amount of time. Sometimes adaptation, like in your case, doesn’t need a lot of adaptation.  It was timely. You could do it really quickly from your platform and turn it into something slightly different and repurposed. 

I encourage everybody that's checking this video out, that is getting informed, and getting inspired by this to look into www.Solidarity.ge , look into their company and the people behind it. I would suggest, insert perhaps in your company policies a way for the people inside that care about something that may be going on. The ability to pivot and to react and do something, as a socially responsible group of people, as a unified humanity. Allow yourselves to react and do beneficial things in the world when a crisis occurs. 

So, for now, Solidarity is there. You can check the link down below and inside the blog if you guys are accessing it there. Let's see how much we can do to help the people in Ukraine, and also the normal people inside Russia as well. We are all connected in this. Everybody needs help sometimes, so thanks for being here, Irakli. It was a pleasure speaking with you and learning about Solidarity, and the best of luck. 

Irakli: Thank you, thank you so much for this opportunity, and we wish you prosperity in everything too.

About Irakli Zhorzholiani

Born in 1987 worked several years for state institutions in Georgia. He has organized several broad campaigns to support youth across the country and was the first person who started actively advocating social-entrepreneurship on the governmental level in the nation.

He studied at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University specialized in history and went to do his master's degree in Sweden. He holds a master's degree in history with the focus on European Studies from Malmö (Sweden) in cooperation with Roskilde University (Denmark). Currently he is doing PHD in philosophy at the Tbilisi State University.

For more information about Solidarity, please visit www.Solidarity.ge

The application can be downloaded from the Google Play Store:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=world.doers

About CykoMetrix - www.CykoMetrix.com 

CykoMetrix is a leading edge combinatorial psychometric and human data analytics company that brings the employee assessment industry to the cloud, with instant assessments, in-depth analysis, trait measurements, and team-based reporting features that simplify informed decision-making around recruiting, training, and managing today’s modern workplace.

 

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Sylvain Rochon

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