By Nirbhay K
The author was part of the recently held Bengaluru CSR Roundtable alongside as many CSR professionals of the city. There are multiple CSR platforms exist in various cities including Bengaluru. There are equal numbers of award platforms that honor and recognize Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) good work. However the Bengaluru CSR Roundtable stands out to be unique for many reasons, as it has born out of the need to bring all CSR professionals under one platform to share, discuss and address common areas of concern for possible solutions. It is a loosely knit platform that may wither away sooner unless a structure is built and agenda is pre-planned and shared for meaningful deliberations. However, the author has complete faith in the participants to convert this informal gathering into a membership driven platform that addresses growing issues of CSR professionals and their tryst with strategic charity management.
The current platform is individual driven without much institutional endorsement. There are three things that would make Bengaluru CSR Roundtable platform survive, sustain and succeed. First, the platform has to enroll as many CSR fraternity members to the group. It include as many professionals associated with CSR from as many corporations. The inclusion works as many corporate houses have no luxury of hiring a fulltime CSR professional and mostly managed by any of the following head of the divisions – Corporate Communications, Sales and Marketing, Executive’s Office, Human Resources, Corporate and Government Affairs, Community Relations or Culture Head. It would be even more meaningful to accommodate professionals managing volunteering program within a corporate house. There are also instances of some corporations leading CSR through their homegrown philanthropy or charity foundations.
Second, Bengaluru CSR Roundtable has to engage the connected professionals over a networked platform. Given the age of digital connections, any virtual platform would work. However, privately held closed group would be appropriate to avoid any unsolicited public requests for uncalled membership. The virtual platform certainly helps members connect seamlessly however it has to quickly convert into a physical platform that engages them regularly. There are multiple touch points that could be explored for face to face interactions.
It is also important to arrive at the frequency of such touch points as monthly meeting may not be feasible for given respective workloads however bi-annuals are too thin to maintain the close fabric. Therefore, a frequency of bi-monthly to quarterly would work for many as it would help members to gather their thoughts in building the agenda.
Identifying a hosting member, planning and refreshments would not be a challenge for as many corporate houses as CSR professionals could sell these opportunities as networking platforms for their respective internal stakeholders and senior leadership team. It is important that hosting members invite senior leaders for a quick chat with the member present for the roundtable.
Third important element in sustaining such an informal group is identifying and zeroing on a solid agenda. Initially it may be easy to draw members for a gathering without any particular agenda but participation would fizzle out over the months for lack of clear agenda lead meetings. There are three key ingredients of agenda to flourish in such platforms – listening to a corporate leader, experience sharing by a learned CSR professional and a platform to share challenges to solicit answers.
The author believes that the Bengaluru CSR Roundtable could emerge as a CSR leadership platform to understand market trends, make professional connects, find inspiration, and listen to ideas and innovations. It is time all current and future members own it up the opportunity to make it big for mutual success.
Over the last two rounds of meetings, the Bengaluru CSR Roundtable has emerged as a learning platform, discussion forum and a network opportunity for CSR professionals. The author recommends that the roundtable could be even more impactful with the foresight for next three roundtables with predefined agenda and host details. These recommendations are not meant to complicate the existing meeting structure but to make it more streamlined for long-term sustainability. It would certainly elicit the steam that is required to invigorate the Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability space.
About the Author
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