By Dr. Sarath R
Initially, businesses were run only for profits. It was said that a company which makes more money, is a good company. But now the definitions are being changed. The company which brings about a change is called as a good one. The change can be brought either as a change in the way people work or as a change in the way people think and act. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the ways companies are looking forward to bring about a change in the society.
CSR was being followed by very few companies around the world. It was done initially by people out of self-interest which was being said as philanthropy. But now, CSR has a new dimension. Companies not only think of it as a compulsion by the government. It has also ended up as a tool of marketing.
CSR as a marketing tool – Companies have now started portraying CSR as a marketing tool. Companies showcase their social responsibility work publicly through various media. This helps in 2 ways. One, the company gets a huge publicity, both locally and on digital media for the work they’ve done. Secondly, their customer base increases. The 2nd one is quite an interesting phenomenon which can be quoted with an example. Most of you might remember or would have used Classmate notebooks. On the back of those books, there used to be pictures and information about ITC’s aid to rural education which was cleverly mentioned as ‘ITC contributes Re.1 for rural and village education for every 4 classmate notebooks purchased’. This led to more and more people buying the Classmate books, even though they were a bit costlier as compared to other books. The people went it with the mindset that, indirectly they are also contributing somewhere and somehow to the society. This resulted in a boost of sales for the Classmate notebooks. This is one of the various examples of how companies are using their CSR work as a marketing tool
Role of CSR Summits
CSR summits and forums play a vital role in recognising the work done by the CSR departments of the companies. In addition, they also recognise and award the companies, NGOs and other organisations who have played a major role in social work and upliftment of the weaker sections of the society. This leads to more contribution from people who are happy to see their hard work recognised. It leads to what is called as the ‘Ripple Effect’ where being inspired by one person, more people follow the work and at times, can lead to a social movement.
As the saying goes, it’s not how much money you make that defines a company; it’s how much change you can affect, that really matters. CSR is truly the way forward for business sustainability, prosperity and growth.
(Dr. Sharath R, Executive Member, Kartavya –The CSR club, IIM Raipur)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this feature are entirely their own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.