Fiinovation: Beyond the Mandate – Changing CSR Paradigms

Not long ago, not many people cared about corporate social responsibility, at least in India. The concept might be known to a few, but there wasn’t much thought on the same. In the last two decades, things have changed significantly. Firstly, the economic reforms in 1991 laid the red carpet for the MNCs to start operating in India.

With the MNCs came the concepts of cause marketing, corporate responsibility, employee welfare, volunteerism, ethical practices, etc. Few other concepts, such as the Triple Bottom Line Approach (coined by the British consultant John Elkington in 1994), Shared Value (Michael Porter in 2011) and Conscious Capitalism (Raj Sisodia and John Mackey in 2013) also came into the limelight.

It was clear that in the last two decades, the emergence of these concepts targeting the commercial enterprises came up suggesting that the businesses should go beyond the obvious financial parameters and develop a holistic framework for assessing the impact of the business operations. From the point of view of the businesses, time and again they have spoken about doing good towards the society and environmental sustainability in their annual reports. Yet, the big issues such as climate change and well-being of the people and planet are prevalent along with a huge disparity.

The passing of the CSR law in India, seemed to have formalised the social sector contributions by the private entities. With not much data, a comparison of the same cannot be made. However, at least in the last two years, there has been significant amount of funds being invested in social projects. Businesses are now taking CSR as a strategic business concept and not many are contributing as a mere charity.

The move to bring about a cultural change within the businesses in India highlighted two concerns. Firstly, majority of the companies are searching beyond their own competencies to create programmes as per the Schedule VII. Secondly, there is not enough capacity or capability in the existing NGOs to meet the requirements of the businesses.

Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company suggests that social sector initiatives require endurance and extended periods of investments in capability and delivery to make a significant impact. The concept is still evolving and incorporating sustainability issues, despite specifications mentioned in the Schedule VII. The whole idea is not to departmentalize business ethics and social responsibility, rather focus on sustainable corporate practices which includes CSR. Fiinovation suggests the idea of amalgamation of social and environmental issues within the business processes, help the businesses achieve enduring socio-economic outcome.

sustainability-framework

The time has come for businesses to be linked with ecosystem and not empty effluents into rivers and then contribute funds towards Clean Ganga. If businesses are truly considering becoming responsible entities they have to reduce, re-use and re-cycle the waste at least by 50 per cent. Therefore, when corporate social responsibility emanate from the core competencies of the respective companies, there is a higher chance of creating systemic solutions for delivery of social benefits.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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