BIMTECH summit highlights growing significance of CSR

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The Global Summit on Corporate Social Responsibility and Transparency was held on 8-9 July in New Delhi. The summit was conducted by Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), Greater Noida, in collaboration with GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and the Economic Times.

One of the key highlights of the summit was the speech by former Union Finance Minister Mr. Yashwant Sinha. He deliberated upon the importance of CSR in today’s world. He said that it is required because the entire world is witnessing a fundamental change and therefore such initiatives are required for the complete growth of the world.

The summit invoked burning issues relating to the sustainability of the organizations and presented the viewpoints from the perspective of different stakeholders.

Prof Roel Nieuwenkamp , Director, International Trade and Globalisation, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Netherlands said, “I  consider CSR as a true treasure hunt in India.” He said that he considered trade policy and CSR policy to be the two sides of same coin. CSR according to him had two roles; defensive CSR role and offensive CSR. For him transparency of supply chain was one of the main issues of concern.

Dr. Rajendra Sisodia, Professor, Chairman & Co-founder, Conscious Capitalism Institute, Bentley University, Massachusetts, USA talked about business realities at the age of conscious capitalism. For him CSR is in its evolutionary process. He talked about the need of CSR in present age for various reasons such as fast changing world, better education, better information, more connections, and more consciousness. He highlighted on few tenets of capitalism such as higher purpose, stake holder orientation. Conscious leadership and conscious culture according to him are the key elements to it. Main idea of his talk was think peace and prosperity through commerce.

Mr. Shyam Saran, IFS, Former Secretary, Government of India (External Affairs) and Advisor to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India talked about the lessons we took from recent economic and global crisis. He also threw light on the importance of transparency in CSR and accountability. He talked about cross cutting challenges and emphasised that profitability must be looked at for a longer term. Instead of looking wealth as a means he stressed on looking vice versa.

The first technical session was on CSR and Transparency: The Connect. The panellists for the session comprised of Dr. Rajendra Sisodia, Mr. Manfred Haebig, Director, Private Sector Development, GIZ and Mr. Prashant Hota, AVP-CSR, R&R and Corporate Communications, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd ANGUL.

The session was chaired Ms. Marjolein Baghuis, Director, Communications & Network Relations, Global Reporting Initiatives, Netherlands. Some of the issues discussed during the session focused upon defining CSR and transparency, highlighting importance of stakeholder engagement, financial markets, competitiveness and risk management. The bottom line of the session was to build an environment of trust which is the leading component of CSR and transparency.

Mr Haebig said, “Total transparency is not possible humanly. When trust disappears we cry out for transparency, so seeking too much of transparency could also mean that we are heading towards a situation of distrust.”

The second technical session was on CSR and Transparency: The Practices. The session was chaired by Mr. P.S. Bawa, Chairman of Transparency International, India; Mr. R.N. Makheeja from Larsen & Toubro Ltd.; Mr. V.M Kaul from Power Grid Corporation of India; Mr. Nevielle K. Gandhi from Seimens; Ms Ananda UVL from Bayer Cropscience Ltd. They talked about the practices adopted by them highlighting transparency.

The next session talked about stakeholder’s perspective wherein the panellists were Mr Joe Phelan, Country Director, India, International Business Leaders Forum, Mr Rijit Sengupta, Associate Director, Consumer Unity & Trust Society, CUTS International, Mr Ulrich Meinecke, Counsellor, Social & Labor Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Ashwini Saxena, Operation Officer, International Finance Corporation and Dr Sunil Sinha, Head and Senior Economist, CRISIL. The session was chaired by Ms Pati N. Poblete, Director, World Outreach and Media, Global Footprint Network.

The second day of the Summit commenced with the session on Accountability and Disclosure. The session chair Mr. Viraf Mehta, Regional Advisor, Institute of Human Rights and Business said, “Accountability is not a simple word but is much more than a mere responsibility”.

The discussions focussed on the issue of giving in accountability from the perspective of the corporates. He also laid emphasis on the Right to information act as a tool to accountability and disclosure.

The fellow panellist Dr. Aditi Haldar, Director, GRI Focal Point, India highlighted certain important aspects of the sustainability reporting which need to be stressed by the companies while reporting. Underlining the importance of Accountability and reporting she said, “What gets measured gets managed and what gets communicated gets understood.”

The three questions that the panellists Mr Manoj Arora, Director (A&F), Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, GOI, Dr Y K Saxena, Chief EHS & Sustainability, Jubilant Life Sciences, Mr Sudhir Sinha, Country Head, CSR and R&R, Arcelor Mittal India Ltd. and Mr Soumitro Ghosh, Founder CEO, CSO Partners addressed were the primary drivers of accountability and disclosure, most significant and recent developments in this field and the challenges present in taking up accountability and disclosure.

The two day summit came to an end with thought provoking notions from Mr. Yashwant Sinha, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and Former Union Finance Minister.

He stated that moral values, ethics and transparency to be the pillars of existence of the corporates. Dr. Simon Longstaff stated trust to be a vital element of CSR wherein his focus was upon the use of open communication and the language of values and principles. Dr. Uddesh Kohli shared his views from the corporate perspective.

The Global summit ended on a high positive note that developments in the public policy and private sector would lead to a better tomorrow.

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