CSR Contributions – Is it a Burden for the Companies?

Despite global turmoil, India continues to emerge as one of the fastest growing investment destination in the world. The Indian government’s efforts towards ‘policy reforms’ and ‘ease of doing business’ are major steps directed to meet the demands of its citizens. Socio-economic growth of the nation is directly linked to profitability of businesses. Without growth, the domestic consumption is not likely to increase. This is one major reason for the businesses to invest their share of profits in activities that are aimed to benefit the marginalised sections of the society.

Although, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is mandatory in India for businesses falling under the CSR ambit, yet the attitude of the Indian companies have not changed much. Businesses are mostly interested in earning profits even after realising that businesses can sustain only if communities prosper. Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company suggests that companies who are mandated to contribute towards CSR are merely focusing on compliance, rather than impact of the initiative.

In such a situation, when there is not much visible impact, the companies tend to believe that funds have gone wasted. Hence, CSR becomes a burden for them.

It is understandable that while the CSR spending went up from Rs 8,330 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,882 crore in 2015-16, the utilization of funds and overall social outcomes have not been quantified or reported. As per experts, it is important for businesses to understand and measure the impact and return on investment of CSR initiatives. Research has also suggested that the rise in contributions by the larger businesses is related to partnership with implementation agencies, mainly CSOs for execution of the CSR programmes. It is noteworthy for the companies facing challenges in CSR to understand that partnership with CSOs help boost compliance of the law.

Effectiveness of the CSR programmes can also be determined through monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment studies. The companies must understand the purpose of CSR and actively engage in its implementation. It is not a matter of compliance, rather it’s about their survival. Companies should be looking to leverage the initiatives to build their brand image. Through CSR, the government is also trying to push the rural development agenda to spur economic growth. As per the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the CSR process which is perceived as burden by the businesses in India can help double the income of farmers. Hence, in this collective effort to eradicate poverty and boost socio-economic growth, businesses should play a pro-active role through collaborations with the civil society organisations.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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FIINOVATION OBSERVES: WORLD CANCER DAY

World Cancer Day is observed all over the world on 4th February to spread awareness about cancer, its diagnosis, detection and treatment at an early stage. The day commemorates the contributions and efforts made by WHO, United Nations, NGOs and governments. It also formulates new strategies to intensify the fight against cancer. The day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) for supporting the goals of the World Cancer Declaration written in 2008.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), every year around 8.8 million people in the world succumb to death due to the disease. Hence, the main goal of observing the World Cancer Day is to create awareness and fight against the disease to reduce the number of cases and deaths due to Cancer.

This year the theme of the World Cancer Day is #WeCanICan. It is the second year of the ongoing campaign, aimed to unite people for intensifying fight against the disease. Experts believe that proactive actions can help in saving millions of preventable deaths (around 4 million people) by spreading awareness and education about the disease through rallies, marches, initiatives, seminars and social media pressing governments and individuals across the world to take effective actions. For example, #NoHairSelfie movement was started to encourage people for shaving off their heads either physically or virtually in order to support people undergoing treatment for cancer.

The main event is organised by UICC every year which involves the participation of various NGOs, research agencies, government representatives, medical experts and individuals. The idea is to target common people and educate them about the leading causes of Cancer such as chewing tobacco, smoking ciggrattes, obesity, unhealthy food habits, lack of physical activity, sexual transmission of HPV-infection, genetic factors, overexposure to sunlight etc. They are also informed about the vaccination method against both the human papilloma virus and hepatitis B virus. Experts present encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyle, practice balanced diet and weight management in order to reduce the risk of occurrence of the deadly Cancer disease.

Another important aspect of celebrating this day is to end stigma and various myth related to the disease prevalent in society. Several cancer survivors have started their own foundations and are now engaged in cancer care treatments. Yuvraj Singh’s case is one famous story from India where the charismatic cricketer after fighting the deadly disease is back on the field scoring centuries. Many other celebrities who have fought cancer have came out creating awareness about the disease.

On this day, Fiinovation urges businesses to develop diagnostic centers across the country under CSR to help early diagnosis and treatment which is essential in the fight against cancer.

“On World Cancer Day, we have an opportunity to collectively examine cancer control strategies to identify winning formulas that will accelerate progress. The goal for all of us is to ensure fewer people develop cancer, more people are successfully treated and that there is a better quality of life for people during treatment and beyond.” – Heather Bryant, VP, Cancer Control, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

By Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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