The term “corporate social responsibility” became popular in the 1960s and has remained a term used indiscriminately by many to cover legal and moral responsibility more narrowly construed. Actualy, CSR refers to a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society. But now a days, CSR is a highly misunderstood & misinterpreted term in India. Some Indian corporate companies believe that merely complying with laws & regulations fulfills their need for social responsibility. A responsible corporate recognizes that its activities have wider impact on the society in which it operates. Therefore, it takes account of the economic, social, environmental & human rights impact of its activities on all the stakeholders. Although India is a favorable business destination for western investors. It is to be tremendously challenging for any business to remain competitive here in the long term. Unless poor people have equity in the growth of economy, India can never be a “ Super Economy”. Here comes the critical role of corporations. CSR is one such niche area of corporates & governance that needs to get aggressively addressed & implemented considerately in the organizations. At the same time, CSR is one effective tool that synergizes the efforts of corporate & the social sector agencies towards sustainable growth & development of the societal objectives at large.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business, sustainable responsible business (SRB), or corporate social performance, is a form of corporate self -regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy would function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business would monitor and ensure their adherence to law, ethical standards, and international norms. Business would embrace responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. Furthermore, business would proactively promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. Essentially, CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision making, and the honoring of People and Profit.
Corporate Social Responsibility in India
All the Business houses and corporate have been taking up social welfare activities from time to time. While CSR is relevant in business for all societies, it is particularly significant for developing countries like India, where limited resources for meeting the ever growing aspirations and diversity of a pluralistic society, make the process of sustainable development more challenging. CSR interventions-based on commitment, mobilization of employees-voluntarism, innovative approaches, appropriate technology and continuing partnership-have been making lasting differences in the life of the disadvantaged. Further, synergy of corporate action with the government and the civil society are making the CSR interventions more effective and facilitating the corporate carrying on business in the society.
Why CSR is aggressively needed today?
CSR as a strategy is becoming increasingly important for India today because of three identifiable trends:
1. Changing social expectations: Consumers and society in general expect more from the companies whose products they buy.
2. Increasing affluence: This is true within developed nations, but also in comparison to developing nations. Affluent consumers can afford to pick and choose the products they buy.
3. Globalization: Growing influence of the media sees any mistakes by companies brought immediately to the attention of the public.
Potential business benefits of CSR
The nature of benefits of CSR for any organization can vary depending on the nature of the enterprise. The business case for CSR within a company will likely rest on one or more of these arguments.
1. Human resources
A CSR programme can be an aid to recruitment and retention, particularly within the competitive graduate student market. Potential recruits often ask about a firm‘s CSR policy during an interview, and having a comprehensive policy can give an advantage.
2. Risk management
Managing risk is a central part of many corporate strategies. Reputation as take decades to build up can be ruined in hours through incident such as corruption scandals or environmental accident. These can draw unwanted attention from regulators, courts, governments & media. Building a genuine culture of doing the right thing within a corporation can offset these risk.
3. Brand differentiation
In crowded market places, company‘s striving for a unique selling proposition. That can separate them from the competition in the minds of consumers. CSR can play role in building customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values.
4. License to operate
Corporation are keen to avoid interference in there business through taxation. By taking substantive voluntary steps, they can pursuit governments that they are taking issues such as health & safety, diversity, or the environment seriously as good corporate citizen for positive impact on the environment.
CSR have no boundaries and are not constrained by race, colour, or religion. Sadly, concern for the community is often mistaken for socialism. On the contrary, every citizen is an asset in economic activity and has opportunities to succeed. CSR is a culture and unwritten contract with the community. This invisible culture can shape brighter future for nations. If employees don’t see the point of CSR initiatives, or understand the message, initiatives are unlikely to be effective. Organizations must realize that government alone will not be able to get success in its endeavor to uplift the down trodden of society. The present societal marketing concept of companies is constantly evolving and has given rise to a new concept- CSR. Many of the leading corporations across the world had realized the importance of being associated with socially relevant causes as a means of promoting their brands. It stems from the desire to do well and get self-satisfaction in return as well associetal obligation of business. The Indian corporate sector are planning to introduce CSR in the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector to increase its reach inremote areas. Also some companies has already started using the CSR as a strategy, which aims at mutual development of company and the community simultaneously.
Author - Priya Anand, Operations Head, I Want to Learn Better Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org