Corporate Social Responsibility - Sustainable Responsible Business
Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 1622
, Published on 06 November 2012
Corporate social responsibility means integration of weaker sections of the society in the value chains. The economic activities should not merely generate wealth but also add value to the society. Developing trust with the customers, making arrangements for empowerment of people from vulnerable sections of society are the indicators of corporate social responsibility.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) defined as “the ethical behavior of a company towards the society,” manifests itself in the form of such noble programs initiated by for-profit organizations. CSR has become increasingly prominent in the Indian corporate scenario because organizations have realized that besides growing their businesses it is also vital to build trustworthy and sustainable relationships with the community at large. This is one of the key drivers of CSR programs.
It has much broader implications for the nation as a whole. It reduces dependency on the government for social change. Most governmental programmes quickly become embroiled in political manipulation, corruption, communal overtones, and bitter infighting. There is a need for public-private partnership with well-defined controls and processes for the best use of resources for social change. Social reforms driven by the community will bring people together, turn the attention of the masses to tasks that benefit society, and reinforce peace and harmony.
In recent times, a number of foundations set up by leading Indian firms, including Infosys, Wipro, Tatas, TVS, and Dr. Reddy's Laboratory, have taken a keen interest in corporate activism to improve healthcare, education, and living conditions, and reduce poverty. These foundations support numerous government primary schools and have developed processes and methodologies for effective change. They support hundreds of non-governmental organizations and have built orphanages, hospitals, and schools.
Organizations like Bharath Petroleum Corporation Limited, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, and Hindustan Unilever Limited, adopt villages where they focus on holistic development. They provide better medical and sanitation facilities, build schools and houses, and help the villagers become self-reliant by teaching them vocational and business skills. Four years ago, Reliance Industries Ltd. launched a countrywide initiative known as “Project Drishti”, to restore the eye-sights of visually challenged Indians from the economically weaker sections of the society. This project, started by one of India’s corporate giants has brightened up the lives of over 5000 people so far.
However, the challenges in India are enormous. Social responsibility should not be limited to large successful corporations. There should be greater participation from most small, medium, and large businesses. The goodwill firms can generate from acts of social responsibility may, in fact, be worth far more to the businesses than the amounts they give. Corporations collectively can make India a better place for every citizen.
It is also about tradition and culture. Firms can institutionalize voluntarism among employees through appropriate incentives and recognition. Internal performance evaluation of employees could recognize community work. Community work can take many forms: teaching in government schools, supporting NGOs financially, empowering women, cleaning parks, planting trees, volunteering in orphanages, protecting the abused. Many corporations in the U.S. allow employees to write about their community service as part of their annual evaluation report. Even if companies do not reward community activities, at least, the idea that the company cares will have a positive impact.
Unless wealthy corporations and individuals spend on goods and services that touch the masses, economic prosperity for most of the population will remain a dream and the divide between the haves and the have-nots will continue to widen.