Importance of Professionals in Corporate Social Responsibility – Fiinovation

The advent of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in India opened new avenues for employment for people belonging to the social development sector. The mandate under the Companies Act, 2013 made it a more focused area for the businesses which might look at CSR in a strategic manner. Hence, the effectiveness of CSR initiatives lies in the hands of CSR professionals who are well versed about the concept and can utilize the initiatives for benefiting the organization.

It has been observed that in most of the businesses, there is still no CSR department, rather it’s the Human Resource department or the senior management which takes care of such initiatives, that too because of mandatory compliance. When called to enquire regarding the CSR department, most of the times the calls are answered by the HR and not by the CSR committee members. This brings us to the question that, are the businesses really serious about giving back to the society or considers CSR as a tick-box exercise?

The presence of CSR professionals in the organization is definitely an indicator of the seriousness of the initiatives. There are several benefits attached to having a CSR professional within the organization. Not only it provides chances to improve the social return on investment, but also improves the communication of CSR initiatives to the stakeholders. As a brand, businesses look to increase their consumer base and market outreach. CSR definitely provides an opportunity to boost the brand value, and the CSR professionals do play a significant role in devising implementation strategies.

Globally, leading CSR professionals have moved one step ahead and are looking not just to initiate ‘give back’ projects, rather incorporate the concept of being a responsible organization across the value chain. They help the corporate communications department to put a number on the value that has been created through the CSR initiatives. It is always recommended to not to give the job of handling the CSR manager position to someone in the HR or any other department, so that there can be a complete analysis on the social return on investment.

With increasing competition among the businesses, CSR could be an innovative mechanism to differentiate a brand from its competitors. The increase in effectiveness of the CSR programmes due to the presence of CSR professionals is definitely a motivating factor for the socially responsible investors. It is also due to the increasing demand of CSR professionals in the businesses and business foundations that several b-schools have started offering degrees in CSR. It is expected that in the years to come, the businesses which doesn’t have CSR professionals will look to recruit them to optimize their social return on investments. Hence, for a CSR professional the future seems to be bright in terms of employment opportunities, but their definitely will be more pressure on them with greater responsibility towards the organization and society at large.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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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