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 – How MNC’s are Contributing Towards Women Empowerment in India?

In the last two decades, their has been significant emergence of MNCs. The fast food outlets such as Mc Donald’s, KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc. are now present even in smaller cities. Their emergence has led to an unique method of empowering women of the country.

For these MNCs, recruitment of women is almost necessary as they don’t want to run their businesses with only men. In this regard, they hire women to maintain a gender balance among the employees. Although, the plan seems to be good, but in a country like India, it is not that easy to find good women employees. It is a nation where women are not encouraged much to work outside their homes. Therefore, several MNCs are going off track to attract women employees by providing them with activities which ultimately helps them to get empowered.

The difference can be witnessed easily. A visit to the Delhi’s malls will make you witness women workforce in the outlets, whereas in a market place the women’s clothing stores are manned by men. Ironically, we do not observe women at these stores. Despite years of progress, India still has a skewed sex ratio and its tough place to be a women. There is a vast difference in the way things use to be and specially now after the emergence of MNCs.

Understanding the situation, the American food chains are doing a bit more than expected to ensure that they are able to employ more women. From allowing their parents to see the workplace to even taste the new burger about to be launched, these companies are doing a lot to attract women employees. Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company understands that people around the world would be unaware about the hardship that these companies are putting in to cultivate female employees.

Fiinovation believes, going off track food chains such as Burger King teaches self defense to its women employees. Similarly, Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell run a mentorship program to help the women employees. Even Mc Donald’s appoints a “Female Confidant” at every outlet to ensure the women talk more freely about their lives and family problems. Apart from these, steps are even taken to give mothers flexible working hours.

These things are changing the way businesses operate in India. With more females joining the workforce, the societal hurdles are bound to reduce in the coming years. Fiinovation also believes that these affirmative action initiatives by the MNCs is a significant step towards empowerment of women in this country. With India being a prominent member of G20, it should lead by example for other emerging economies to follow.

Therefore, let us hope that in future, other businesses will implement similar initiatives that will help the country grow inclusively.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

5 Big Things in the Education Sector in 2016

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The education sector in India is currently at a crucial transformational stage. It is likely to grow leaps and bounds due to India’s demographic advantage presenting huge opportunities for investors. Among several things, these are the five big things that happened in the education sector.

1. The National Educational Policy Debate

The education sector in India had grown because of the first National Education Policy in 1968. The new draft NPE 2016 aims to bridge the gap between the growing population and quality education for all. It plans to put India’s education sector in the global map by making the country a global knowledge hub. The policy also plans to bring must needed reforms such as technology enabled education, skill education, teacher training support and compulsory quality audits for educational institutions. However, the draft policy has been widely criticised by teachers and institutions due to factors such as issues of commercialisation, massively open online courses (MOOCs), internationalisation and recruitment policies.

2. Education Sector & CSR

The education sector continues to be one of most favoured sector receiving CSR funds from businesses. In a recent report by Nasscom, it was highlighted that on an average 70% of the CSR funds of business is directed towards the education sector. Even, private educational institutions have been quite vocal about their wish of receiving CSR funds. The spending of the Nifty listed companies increased this year by more than 20% and education remained their priority sector.

3. Swachh Vidayala

Sanitation have become an important instrument to ensure there is no dropouts from schools. After the PM’s call to construct toilets and make the nation open defecation free, several companies under CSR contributed towards construction of toilets. Within a year, 4.07 lakh toilets were constructed out of which 2.66 lakh were new toilets whereas the rest were repaired. The aim was to have a separate toilet for girls and boys at every government school thereby reducing the drop-out rates of girls because of unhygienic facilities.

4. More Firms But Few Offers at IITs

The campus placements are always in the news, especially because of the highest offered packages from US based companies. This year, although more companies visited IIT campuses, it seems number of offers per company has dipped from last year. Students picked by leading finance and consulting firms have also reduced. The reason for such maybe the changing global dynamics and the slowdown of the developed economies.

5. Improved Rankings

The rankings of the Indian Universities improved from the last year. In the newly expanded Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies University Rankings, India was the 2nd most represented country, with the Indian Institute of Science becoming the first Indian institute to enter the top 15. In the list of 300, India has 27 universities. In 2015, 16 Indian universities had made it to the top 200. China continues to dominate with 52 places in the top 300 and six in the top 10.

There might be several other impactful things that happened in 2016 related to the education sector, but these were the few which garnered much media attention.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

**The above article is based on the author’s personal views and analysis of the sector.