Corporate Social Responsibility: The need and the strategy
The growing concern about the impact of businesses on environment and society is a global phenomenon. The impact is measured in terms of host of dynamic expectations like societal expectations, societal needs and peer-pressures. Business is now required to perform not only in terms of financial returns but also in terms of social returns. Financial performance in itself is not regarded as the yardstick of business success today. Performance measurement in terms of environmental, social and governance impact of business have become important indicators to achieve sustainable development of an economy.
Presently, in India people can confuse philanthropy and charity with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) when in fact these are quite different. Philanthropy and charity are significant but limited in their efficacy and scale to achieve the desired progress in sustainable and inclusive development. In this respect, CSR can be the quintessence of business strategy, an important tool in all-modern companies and figures as a central tenet in decision-making processes.
Practical and correct usage of CSR creates a “WOW” effect in the minds of stakeholders and this needs to be understood by the companies. CSR aims at sustainable development, which revolves around the four pillars of CSR: the work place, which revolves around the employees; market place, which means the customer; the society in general; and the environment in particular. At the heart of responsible business behaviour lie the leadership and management intent of building trust not only among the four pillars of CSR but also among the stakeholders. Trust can be gained through improved transparency, a robust system of checks and balances and programs that build and foster integrity of business character. Moreover, the integration of CSR into all aspects of business is strengthened by an organizational culture rooted in the values of trust and transparency. Organizations are being encouraged by both their internal and external stakeholders to demonstrate the same in their business operations and measure their impact on society and environment.
Given the current state of growing distrust among society and business firms about CSR, corporate claims of good behaviour are being met with suspicion. There is a need for these claims to be backed by comprehensive and verifiable information. Accordingly, there is a need for hiring registered CSR practitioners to do the following:-
• To create awareness among the leadership team about CSR
• The need to create a “WOW” effect for stakeholders
• To plan the programme, document and disseminate the results
Usually, the process is as follows:
1. Design a plan for sustainable development.
2. Implement the plan within the organization.
3. Monitor the plan with KPI’s.
4. Write the impact report.
5. Communicate the results to the rest of the world.
India remains at the early stages of CSR evolution, real efforts are required to achieve the levels acquired globally.