CSR is Part of Doing Business, Says India Inc


The govt has recently ordered companies to use 2% of the profit for CSR
CHENNAI: Major players in the India Inc feel even as the government has mandated two per cent of the profit to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the responsibility of corporate to the society is an integrated part of the value it offers through its entire business activities. It would be proper to call the initiatives as Corporate Sustainable Responsibility (CSR) rather than Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), they said in a conference and exhibition on CSR, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry and Unicef.

csrParticipating in a panel discussion on Business responsibility going beyond CSR, Vinita Bali, managing director & CEO of Britannia Industries, said, “There is nothing social about Corporate Social Responsibility. It simply has to be corporate responsibility. And what I mean by that is that in the course of our doing business, we can figure out a way of benefiting not just business, but also the larger stakeholder, the communities the employees and everybody else. ”  That is what makes business sustainable over a long period of time, she said.

Deliberating on the point, with the example of Britannia, she said the company has two insights – one with commercial sales of the nutritious fortified biscuits in the market and the other by serving the malnourished children with fortified nutritious biscuit through public private partnership with NGOs.

“I do believe that every company, irrespective of what they are doing, can and must find a model of embedding something which is a social issue into the way it does business everyday and we should think about Corporate Responsibility and not CSR,” she added.

Keeping the CSR and business separate has resulted in a general perception that in business one would do something commercially, potentially not so productive and useful, perhaps even damaging and pay a little bit through CSR, said Nachiket Mor, board member and head of financial inclusion panel, RBI who chaired the session.

“I believe that business itself is an important and critical force for the growth and development of the country and something that can have a transformative impact on what is going on around us. In some way we tend to think about business and CSR as two points of the pole,” he said.

Mukund Rajan, brand custodian and chief ethics officer of Tata Sons Ltd, has said that the brand of Tata Group has been built up on the trust it has earned from the people. “Community is not just another stakeholder in Business, but is in fact the reason for its existence. We have a commitment as serving as part of the community. If you think in the long term it is good for the consumer and society, we will pursue it and take the risks,” he said.

While the workers in the automobile sector has been typically looked after by the industry, the companies also has to take care of its customers and the drivers in case of trucks, said V Sumantran, vice chairman of Ashok Leyland Ltd.

“Mobility is a carrier of development and we think that our obligations do not just end with the customers, but also to literally thousands of drivers in the fleet of trucks,” he said. According to studies, the drivers of fleet trucks face huge amount of stress. The company is organising skill tests for the drivers, trainings and health checks, to help them better serve the customer.

Cognizant, an IT major with its Indian operations based in the State, in another panel discussion said that its employees have spend around 220,000 hours of volunteer hours last year and this has happened even without any mandatory instruction or condition by the company.

[Business Standard, 12 Feb 2014]

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