How Responsible Is The Claim Of Being Responsible?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on August 27, 2012

We all know that by law, all the corporate honchos have a mandate of CSR. Nearly 2% of the entire budget of a company engaged in large scale production is allotted to CSR activities. Google will be of great help if one wants to know more about this obligation. CSR initially was designed to align the needs of the community whose resources the corporate uses to prosper.

Gradually, the craze started picking up and now one can find that almost all the top corporates have explored the option of doing CSR. Importantly, CSR now is not just a means of development for the community but also a Public Relations strategy which the companies use fittingly. No wonder, many corporates now run advertisements on prime channels and that too on prime time to mould their cannibalistic image to that of a protector’s.

Interestingly, after working for a corporate for its CSR activities, I have started to question the very same image of these hotshots which guarantees development. Ask any guy working in the CSR wing- ‘Are you working for the development of the community?’ Quickly the response is shot-‘YES!’ To provide proofs, he throws an annual report which is loaded with projects having an attractive Hindi name and an even better photograph of villagers getting involved in those projects.

Moreover, the balance of the CSR also shows the amount of money (corporate’s own blood) invested for the community. The statement which is proudly presented goes like-‘Delivering happiness to those who matter!’ The question which is needed to be explored is if the development is real or it is just a creation of shrewd authority to influence gullible consumers on the straight character of the company. After all, the metropolitan crowd is sensitive towards the community who toils day in and out in the farms to earn living.

When I first went in the villages to talk to the Community for which the corporate stated that it was responsible, the comment which it passed was-‘You guys are playing with our future! Please leave us all alone.’ No wonder I was even threatened by the ‘Community’ to leave the village as soon as possible. Why did I face such a stark reaction from the community, when the company states that it has changed the way of living of it? Well the answer lies in the modus operandi of corporate.

In development world, the focus is always on making the community empowered through sustainability. The real catch here is that CSR makes the same community dependent on its activities. As CSR activities have specific bounds in which they will function, the corporate wants to prosper the community by running various programs. Empowered community would lead to lack of CSR activities in the near future which will in turn eliminate a strong PR domain.

The management which is responsible for carrying out different activities gets appreciation from the board only when they make annual reports thicker. To do so, it tries to invest in a plethora of activities rather than focusing on activity which will make an impact on the region. The activities which it run are also flawed. The activities do not even cater to the real demand of the community.

For example, if the community needs 200 toilets, only 20 will be constructed to make it a valid event for the annual reports. Other than that, who cares! The event which could have been invested in the construction of 180 additional toilets will be used for some other activities. The logic is clear. More the activities, better the annual report. Better the report, more perks for the management.

Sustainability which is propagated in mission and vision statements or these organizations is not even present in the activities which they run in the region. After, making a community sustainable does not make any sense to the corporate. If the fish runs out what are we going to catch for supper? The same logic applies to this situation. If the community is strengthened, why would it need CSR activities? Despite years of working, in many regions, the community is as dissatisfied as the community without CSR activities would have been.

It is therefore a valid question to ask- ‘Is it really development?’ Creating physical infrastructure and that too inadequate is at least not development. It is what I will call ACTING LIKE GOVERNMENT. It would not be a bold statement to make that by doing so, corporates can definitely fetch in some more consumers in the metropolitan markets by selling its ‘responsible’ image but the fact remains that they are be fooling the consumers as well as the people who should really matter to them. After all, CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility and it should work as an extension of development in a socially responsible manner. In the end, I would just want to yell it aloud-‘those people who have given their lands for the profits you make are also a part of Social element of Society’. Anybody listening????

This article has been authored by Shubham Tomar from IRMA.


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