Business Responsibility is not just an ad hoc act of philanthropy: Rita Soni, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation

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By Dr Rana Singh

MUMBAI: Ms. Rita Soni is CEO of NASSCOM Foundation (NF), the social development arm of NASSCOM, India’s premier Information Technology (IT) industry body. INDIACSR editorial board members Dr. Rana Singhin conversation with Ms. Rita Soni on her vision for foundation and initiatives and CSR in India.  Business Responsibility is not just an ad hoc act of philanthropy, she said INDIACSR. Below is a edited transcript of the interview:

Rita-SoniWhat are your views about CSR in India?

CSR in India has traditionally focused on corporate philanthropy, but it is starting to catch pace with the global trends into Business Responsibility which engages various stakeholders including individuals, organizations, government and the inner workings of a corporate. The sensitivity of various stakeholders in India is now increasing towards the social and environmental impact – both positive and negative. The corporate world and the government are coming forward in a big way to further the cause of CSR or Business Responsiblity.

What has been the approach towards CSR at NASSCOM Foundation?

We at NASSCOM Foundation work directly with three main stakeholders:  our NASSCOM member companies, NGOs and Social Enterprises. Our overarching objective is to use technology for doing good. We have also announced awards to recognize innovative initiatives of various organizations using technology to solve social and environmental issues, including India Inc’s CSR initiatives.

What are the various programmes currently managed by NASSCOM Foundation?

NASSCOM Foundation has structured innovative and dynamic programs in the light of the various competing priorities of the our stakeholders.

NASSCOM Foundation Programs are:

BiG Bridge – Computer donation programme BiG Bridge program aims to enable education, employability and entrepreneurship through computer donations from tech companies.

BiG Tech – Software donation programme
BiG Tech assists non-governmental organizations and charities by offering access to free software donation programs of our donor partners.

ConnectIT – IT training programme
This ‘ConnectIT’ capacity building workshops are part of NASSCOM Foundation’s efforts towards building IT capacity of government officials and managers from grassroot organisations.

My Kartavya – Volunteerism programme
MyKartavya not only connects member companies to a wide spectrum of volunteering opportunities, but also helps them manage and evaluate employee efforts.

NASSCOM Knowledge Network – Community programme
The NASSCOM Knowledge Network (NKN) is a dynamic yet robust network of telecentres or knowledge centres across 13 states of India.

The objective is to facilitate information access and to increase livelihood options for women, adolescent girls & youth from underserved and marginalized communities in rural areas and urban slums.

Business Responsibility Forum – CSR programme

The Forum operates across seven cities as a space to share and collaborate on CSR activities.

What has been the appreciable move of the government recently?
The official release of the National Voluntary Guidelines for Social, Economic and Environmental Business Responsibilities is a significant step towards mainstreaming CSR beyond corporate philanthropy. These Guidelines give specific business justification for each of the principles along with interesting Indian examples. We hope to help operationalize these principles in our IT-ITeS member companies.

How do you see the approach towards associating / networking with various stakeholder ?

We at NASSCOM Foundation have been very open and flexible towards establishing and nurturing strong inter-personal relationships with various stakeholders of the society. As a Member, Volunteer, NGO or Government, we invite one and all to get involved with NASSCOM Foundation and be a part of India’s inclusive growth.

What has been the approach of NASSCOM Foundation towards Business Responsibility?                 

Business Responsibility (NASSCOM Foundation’s approach to Corporate Social Responsibility) is a multi-faceted concept covering the four realms in which a business functions, namely the marketplace, workplace, environment and the community. The emerging global reality for businesses is that Business Responsibility (BR) can no longer be viewed as an optional project, instead it needs to be embedded in the core business strategy. It is no longer a salve for the conscience of concerned citizens, but a pressing business requirement.

Business Responsibility is not just an ad hoc act of philanthropy. Instead it’s a strategic activity that encompasses an integrated and planned approach; an activity that adds to the equity of the company but also builds sustainable environment of all stakeholders.

Business Responsibility is the doctrine that will drive businesses of tomorrow as against the marketplace, shareholders and customers who are currently the dominant drivers. Businesses today are evaluated by their bottom line, in future business functions will be measured as per their responsible business practices.

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