Ravi Sreedharan is the Founder Director of Indian School of Development Management Advisory Council Member at “BlueSky Sustainable Business LLP”. He worked in the corporate world for more than 2 decades with HSBC in Dubai, Hongkong, Jakarta and Cairo. At the age of 49, he quit a successful corporate career to pursue his passion for social work. Back in India, he was a part of the leadership team at Azim Premji Foundation which works in 50 districts across the country to improve the quality of government schools and learning levels of children in the least privileged sections of the society.
In an interview with India CSR Network’s Rusen Kumar, the assurance will build credibility of the company in the social ecosystem and in turn act as a catalyst for better designed CSR interventions. Edited excerpts:
How important is Social Responsibility to the millennial?
We are in an era where the millennial are more involved than ever in the issues of the society. Their vision of a good life is no longer limited to basic living standards and enjoying a comfortable living. They are becoming more aware of the global and local challenges and participating in both dialogue and action. Also, the careers in social sector are evolving to cater to good talent and acknowledge their contribution in the social responsibility landscape with decent pay. If your hard work gets paid, it is always better to have a career which gives a sense of contribution rather than only a salary.
What are the companies who visit ISDM for campus recruitment looking for and why?
Students of the ISDM-PGP Programme are well prepared to take on various roles in the development sector organizations, start their own for-impact organizations, and in time, take on senior leadership, and management responsibilities in the sector. They come with a unique blend of understanding contextual realities and social change along with an understanding of how organizations work.
The companies who visit ISDM are looking for professionals who have a holistic understanding of development and fresh perspective to designing interventions at a systemic level. The complex problems of the society need leaders who want to invest their time in building world class social purpose organizations and creating sustainable change. The unique curriculum at ISDM is based on this very principle and integrated into the trans-disciplinary approach of the course.
How will assurance of CSR projects help in improving the quality of CSR projects?
The assurance of CSR projects will certainly create more accountability with the companies and give inputs for reflecting on the projects being implemented. It could also act as a great feedback mechanism for non-profits to enable more meaningful partnerships with the companies who have a better sense of social change and sustainable impact.
What are the latest trends in ensuring the sustainability of development projects?
First is working ‘WITH‘ the community rather than ‘FOR‘ them, so as to not create parallel structures. This holds true for every stage of project development (design, strategy, implementation, feedback, evaluation and restructuring if required). Investing both time and effort in the government institutions is slowly picking up. Last but not the least is educating the funders on the importance of long term investment in innovative models of organizational and capacity building
What is the one biggest challenge the Assurance can help to address in terms of maximizing the potential of CSR projects?
It will act as an enabler for non-profits to screen companies who align with their vision and mission. The time and effort in building a trusting relationship with companies is extremely high and with slower return rate. Hence, the assurance will build credibility of the company in the social ecosystem and in turn act as a catalyst for better designed CSR interventions.