By Rusen K
Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Green Den Consultancy Founder and Director
Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR in India has simply meant philanthropy. Not that a business donating some of its profits to well-meaning causes is undesirable but there are some obvious pitfalls to this “giving-back” model. There are three-main pillars on which a business rests- Planet (natural resources), People (community and customers) and Profit (economy). There can be many definitions of CSR but a CSR program that is wholesome and smart caters to all three pillars. Plain philanthropy is old school because:
Firstly, it does not involve oversight in most cases, where one can measure the effectiveness of the “donation” for a cause or community, to make better giving choices in the future.
It does not sustain improvement or initiate cyclic well-being. Most often it is a one-time act with no positive feedback.
More importantly, it does not reinforce the relationship of the business with its other major stakeholders – i.e. planet and profit.
What if there is a way to improve your business model so that it can uplift – the planet, your stakeholders and your profitability? There is a way and it is called systems thinking
This is exactly what a new kid on the block plans to do, change “business as usual” mentality. Green Den Consultancy (GDC) is an India – based business sustainability firm that comprises of six international sustainability consultants and expert collaborators with a global outlook. GDC works with businesses ground-up to provide sustainability solutions with real business paybacks.
The six consultants are based in India, USA, Spain and come from varied cultural, academic training and work backgrounds. Their experiences in a variety of industries, working with large enterprises, small and medium business, government and non-profit sector put them in a great position to offer effective solutions that will benefit multi-dimensional businesses. Some of the consultants have economic backgrounds while other are more scientific oriented – due to all these different backgrounds; they can offer flexibility and a better understanding of customers’ problems and needs.
Priti Ambani, one of GDC’s founding consultants based in the US, concurs “Through our intrinsic knowledge of the local markets we operate in, we bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table. Indian companies have not realized the true benefits of adopting sustainability and CSR. We have the necessary tools and knowledge base to help a company realize its CSR potential, reap benefits like better credibility, improved market share and profitability while improving social and environmental conditions.”
GDC’s core value and ideology is based on the fact that “business as usual” is on its way out. The longevity and profitability of any company, today relies heavily on how well the company can align its business goals with that of the community and the environment.
Frederic Page, a sustainability expert and GDC’s core consultant from Spain explains: “CSR and sustainability are here to stay. These are not just trends or fashion but a way to tackle tough economic, social and environmental problems. Various studies show that companies that invest in sustainability are doing better in the long run, financially, than companies that don’t. A sustainability program is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have”. The key however is to put sustainability at the heart of the business strategy by engaging the whole company from the CEO and board members to the employees.
Corporate Responsibility is not an isolated department in an organization but one that works with all the different facets of a business.
Frederic reinforces this key concept, and says “Every department has a role to play, HR, IT, legal, Operations, External and Internal communications. Having a manager responsible for the execution of the sustainability strategy is important to ensure smooth and efficient communication and alignment all across the company. It’s also important to communicate the company’s sustainability efforts, internally and externally, and engage actively all stakeholders, customers, providers & local communities. A company can dramatically increase its short and long term profitability by holistically managing economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities. Because sustainability goes beyond compliance, it also creates a fantastic range of business opportunities for companies that know how to adapt their business model to this new environment.”
Another very interesting aspect of the Green Den Consultancy is its inception and birth. GDC is the first such consultancy in India and possibly the first in the world to galvanize on social media to bring a multi-tiered, international approach to global problems. How did it all happen?
Akhila Vijayaraghavan, GDC’s Founder and Director, says, “I suppose it began with the blog I started writing also called Green Den. Then when I started tweeting a year ago and exchanging ideas with people and learning more about CSR challenges, reading more, working more I reached the conclusion that I did have a valid business model. After that, GDC gathered steam – I pitched the idea to the people who are now my core team. I imagine we are the first international consultancy to be born out of social media. We are remote-based, with different academic and cultural backgrounds but at the end of the day we speak the same language.”
Green Den Consultancy’s vision and services promise to help take corporations to a new level of success. It focuses on a model where sustainability is mainstream with businesses taking on a central role to improve the social and environment quality of life, while safeguarding their own viability and profitability.
To contact Green Den Consultancy, email contactus(at)thegreenden(dot)net and to receive regular updates sign up for their newsletter!