Making CSR not an initiative, but an ethos!

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By Captain Partha Samai

We at AGS Transact Technologies believe in positively impacting the environment and supporting the communities we operate in. Over the years, the organisation has grown vertically & horizontally in India; hence the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives have seen a rapid & positive trend. The employees are young, energetic and predominately millennials, making it easier & encouraging for the Human Resources department to plan, execute and measure the engagement levels.

As the title of the article mentions, the HR department has always tried to make CSR a part of the culture and ethos of the company rather than just another initiative to engage the employees. Getting a group of 9,000 plus employees together can be rather difficult, so interactive activities like games, competitions and especially CSR provides a good platform to do this.

Our recent campaign called Kuch Achha Karo involved collection of donation items for underprivileged children and a visit to an old age home and was a phenomenal success. This week-long activity got a lot of positive response from the employees. While some were happy that the organization was giving an opportunity to realize their desire of being socially responsible, the others were glad to meet fellow colleagues from across departments and positions for the first time.

The absence of hierarchy and professional formalities gave them a chance to understand each other on a personal level and bond over a common goal. CSR is a great way to develop the overall emotional quotient and is another form of team building that lends positivity to the organization in the long run. It also allows each person to shine beyond their work profile and showcase talents and skills.

In the B2B space, employees represent the most powerful brand communications channel. Hence, to be true brand ambassadors, employees must feel a sense of shared purpose, a fundamental connection to the company’s mission, vision and values, and an understanding of how they contribute to the company’s success. Employee volunteerism and corporate philanthropic initiatives are correlated with employees’ positive perception and commitment to their company. This is an important insight, especially for large companies looking to engage and retain a sizeable workforce.

If we take any business that is moderately large and has decently spread its wings, it could well be genuinely committed to improving society in the one area in which it focuses its efforts. Employees however, are likely to view a one-dimensional approach to CSR as a desire for the firm to manage its reputation among external stakeholders.

For company heads and the Human Resource department, this is food for thought. CSR needs to be embedded at the heart of a company’s principles, rather than be perceived as a mere add-on. The commitment to the cause should be felt more than spoken about. It should dictate the way the company operates across the board, and employees should truly feel empowered to get involved in relevant initiatives.

This might also mean giving employees a day off to contribute, over & above their usual leave/holidays. Management and leaders need do away with orthodox ideas and restrictive policies. The traditional mindset of ‘not-in-seat-means-loss-to-business’ will have to go out of the window and employees would need to be given their space to deliver at their own terms.

The role CSR plays in enhancing a company’s reputation among its external and internal stakeholders, especially employees, is perhaps underrated – which is particularly problematic for companies that are inconsistent in their approach to implementing CSR initiatives. For instance, an organisation which has no policy of “recycling/re-use”, but participates in Swachh Bharat or a clean-up drive might arouse employee skepticism about the genuineness of their firm’s desire to make a positive difference to society. Likewise, this could be true of a firm that encourages volunteering into various society development programs but the same does not reflect in their own eco-system.

For holistic and sustainable growth, CSR must be a core part of the comprehensive structure of a company and all its business execution documents. It could also form a mandatory percentage of deliverables of every individual which would rate them on ‘social conscious parameters’. Such an initiative by companies would be a revolutionary and welcome change, impacting the thought process of future leaders and making businesses socially responsible as they grow.

(Captain Partha Samai, Sr. VP & Group Head-HR, AGSTTL)

Condition: India CSR does not permit other websites/Agency to copy or reproduce or reprint the above article in any form.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.

Introduction of the Author

Captain Partha Samai is the Senior Vice President & Group Head Human Resources at AGS TTL associated with the Company since June, 2011. He has over 16 years of experience in the field of human resources & human capital development. He was associated with Tikona Digital Networks Private Limited as its Head Human Resources; Tata Teleservices Limited and Bharti Tele Ventures Limited. He has received the Motorola University Six Sigma Green Belt by Tata Teleservices Limited in recognition of effective utilization of statistical problem solving and quality tools. He has received many industry accolades. Before joining the corporate world, Captain Partha Samai served in the Elite force of Indian Army where he was charged with building cohesive and motivated teams. Captain Samai holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Symbiosis, Pune and Master of Arts degree from the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune. Also, he is a graduate from the prestigious Indian Military Academy.

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