Trust in business by society is low, So business needs to earn back the trust of stakeholders: Dr Wayne Visser


INDIACSR News Network

BANGALORE: Amrita School of Business and Centre for Sustainable and Responsible Organizations (CSaRO), Deakin University jointly host an International Symposium on Corporate Social Responsibility (IS-CSR) with sustainability, governance and effective outcome as gist. The two-day symposium, targeted at senior CSR managers in the public and private sector, will be held on 12-13 December 2013 in Bangalore. Founder – CSR International and Kaleidoscope Futures-  Dr. Wayne Visser is the keynote speaker at this event. The symposium is aimed to foster thought leadership in the highly dynamic and challenging areas of CSR and Sustainability.

Rusen Kumar, Editor, India CSR talked to Dr. Wayne Visser on his India visit. In 2008 he was in India for CSR Quest tour. Dr. Wayne Visser is Director of the think tank Kaleidoscope Futures and Founder of CSR International.

Edited excerpts:

What are the key purpose of your India visit?

I am delivering a keynote speech on “The Future of CSR” at the International Symposium on Corporate Social Responsibility in Bangalore on 12-13 December, organised by Amrita University and Deakin University, and I am presenting a Masterclass on “Embedding CSR and Empowering CSR Champions” in Mumbai on 14 December, organised by the Center for Responsible Business.

How was your experience in India in your last quest tour?

In fact, I have written about this in my book, The Quest for Sustainable Business. I was made to feel very welcome when I visited Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Raipur. I found mixed perceptions and practices of CSR, incorporating charitable, promotional and strategic approaches, and I was especially inspired by some social enterprises like A Little World and NGOs like Karmayog. But I was concerned about the government’s proposals to legislate CSR.

How many days are you going to spend?

4 days

According to you, what are the biggest social challenges before India?

It would be presumptuous of me to say, as I am not an expert on India. However, it does seem like India’s biggest challenge must be for business to create shared value in a way that brings most of the population into the economy and narrows existing social inequalities and addresses corruption. I also think environmental issues like pollution must be tackled in a way that benefits the poorest. As an example, from this perspective, reducing water pollution is more critical than air pollution.

What is the most significant business responsibility development since 2000 globally?

A number of events, including the collapse of Enron, various financial scandals, the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the bankrupcy of Lehman brothers and the ensuing global financial crisis, and the emergence of the Occupy (Wall Street) movement – all of these have created, for the first time, a serious debate around the need to reinvent capitalism. This has been given many names, like Creative Capitalism (Bill Gates), Long-Term Capitalism (Dominic Barton) and Breakthrough Capitalism (John Elkington). I have written about this elsewhere and call it Sustainable and Responsible Capitalism, or Purpose-Inspired Capitalism, which must be based on five principles: productive investment, transparency, long-termism, full-cost accounting and social inclusion.

Kindly share your thoughts on Indian Govt emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility?

I hope to find out more about this when I visit in December. However, I have been openly critical of legislating CSR in the way that the Indian government is doing. I believe there is a great danger of this reinforcing a philanthropic approach to CSR, when in fact we need embedding and transformative CSR if we are to address the impacts of consumerism and business growth.

How do you imagine the India 10 years from now?

I expect India will continue to benefit from economic growth, bringing many millions of people out of extreme poverty, but it will struggling with increasing inequality, as capitalism makes the gap between rich and poor grow. I also expect India will be feeling the impacts of climate change more severely, both in terms of storms, floods and droughts, and more climate refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Why CSR issues are becoming more crucial for the business?

This is very simple: because many of our global problems are still getting worse – climate change, inequality, corruption, biodiversity loss, etc – and the economic model of capitalism that business implements is a major cause of this deterioration. At the same time, trust in business by society is low. So business needs to earn back the trust of its stakeholders, while also being part of the reinvention of capitalism so that it better serves society and the planet.



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