Creating, Nurturing and Enduring Relationships – RBL Bank - Ms. Shanta Vallury

CSR Times: Why is CSR important to RBL bank? What are the visions or missions while doing the social work in community?

Ms Shanta Vallury: At RBL Bank,our core promise is relationship with responsibility, so whatever we do, we do responsibly. Our organisation’s Vision statement clearly focuses on being the ‘Bank of Choice’ by creating nurturing and enduring relationships through trust and respect of our customers, employees and partners. “The community as a cause” is an important pillar of the Bank’s Mission statement. As a Bank, we offer banking services and monetary help to those at the bottom of the economic pyramid thereby catalysing growth and reducing social inequality. Clearly, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fits well into the overall vision, mission and the underlying promise of the organisation.

CSR Times: Most of the banking sector companies are still trying to figure out where to invest when it comes to CSR? They are mostly into health, education, etc. Is RBL Bank looking to get into other sectors too, like environment, animal welfare, or labour reforms?

Ms Shanta Vallury: When you say health and education, there are two ways of looking at it. Health could be about organizing blood donation camps or sponsoring a large scale health drive. In fact, at RBL Bank we have identified three key areas. The first one is retinopathy in diabetics, second is retinoblastoma which is a form of eye cancer in children, and third is reducing child mortality & improving maternal health. If you don’t have a healthy mother you can never have a healthy home, and if you don’t have a healthy home you cannot create sustainability and livelihood for your home. Health sector is actually about identifying the challenges. For us, livelihood management is another area we would be focusing on as part of our CSR policy. Livelihood is imparting vocational training and guidance to help people find jobs and discover sources of income by reviving Indian arts & crafts.


CSR Times: Are you providing financial literacy or skill development in financial sector to increase the employment opportunities?

Ms Shanta Vallury: RBL Bank is a very strong player in the Financial Inclusion & Developmental Banking space.  We have recently launched a one-of-a-kind Financial Literacy program called “Saksham” to create awareness and educate women from low income communities about management of money, importance and advantages of planned saving, benefits of borrowing and precautions while availing a loan, and most importantly, improving their confidence in opening a Bank account and operating banking channels. Our mission is to focus on providing livelihood by educating people on vocational guidance. As part of that mission, we are evaluating avenues where Vocational guidance can be given to a 10th or 12th class student today on areas like setting up a beauty parlour, training to be a plumber, or learning computer skills where he/she may join a bank in the future.

CSR Times: You mentioned about women and child care programmes related to pregnancy care. Have you partnered with another organization for this cause?

Ms Shanta Vallury: This year our focus has been to provide primary education to girls for which we have tied up with various organisations. Along with that, treating retinoblastoma and retinopathy is also an important area of our CSR. Child mortality or what we like to call infant or maternal health is an area that needs implementation at grass root levels. We are in the process of identifying authentic and dedicated organizations that work in this field.

CSR Times: What according to you should be the social trend in India with respect to CSR? How should a company start its CSR what should be their methodology?

Ms Shanta Vallury: I am not a consultant but I will share my personal experience of how we began our CSR journey. We started by identifying ethical organisations and speaking to their CSR leaders. We also visited NGO’s, met philanthropists, attended seminars, and met people who worked in the law on CSR. Meeting them was a great learning experience. Our board members are active participants too, which has been instrumental to our CSR success. Before you tie yourself into any CSR policy, my suggestion would be to speak to as many people as possible.  Also opt for areas which have remained untouched and focus on those areas. It has worked for us and hopefully it should work for others too.

CSR Times: What changes do you recommend? Did you notice any improvement? Considering your experience would you like to give some suggestions?

Ms Shanta Vallury: We need more aggregators. Normally when you do CSR it has to intermingle with the philosophy of the organisation. CSR becomes a critical partnership in the overall vision and mission. I think the challenge for organisations these days is to make sure that the money spent is utilized wisely.They should be able to evaluate the impact it has created, and also gauge if the auditable reports are accurate. Engaging your employees at an early stage into the CSR thrust areas of the organization is critical to the success as well as enables the organization to become a good corporate citizen. 

CSR Times: Do you mean we need to improve the evaluation methodology and impact assessment?

Ms Shanta Vallury: Apart from evaluation methodology we also need to study the impact analysis. Suppose we identify 3 thematic areas, it should be a strategic understanding on how should I treat these thematic areas so as to get the best out of it. Most of the times it’s not about doing charity, it’s good to do charity but it has to be impactful as well. I think we miss that important aspect and I feel that to a large extent the world outside needs to look at that with little more clarity.

CSR Times: In a layman’s language we can say that there is a gap between demand and supply in the CSR industry; and we are not able to fill that gap. Would you agree?

Ms Shanta Vallury: It would not be incorrect to say that there are plenty of untouched areas. There is a demand and there is supply but we need more people who can bridge the gap between the demand and supply. There are many grass root NGO’s that are working in thematic areas that we focus on. The issue with these NGO’s is their governance structure. As a corporate we definitely would like to have a clear idea on the utilization of funds which are auditable. Therefore, we need better governance and supervision infrastructure to bridge the gap.

CSR Times: Should there be any volunteers or should the government should set-up an organization to bridge this gap?

Ms Shanta Vallury: Honestly it would be unfair for me to comment on who should be doing it. I think there is a gap here and both private and public organizations should work together in bridging the gap. Bringing these issues to light in the Media can definitely act as a catalyst in closing the gap.

CSR Times: What is your message to the community, and to the people?

Ms Shanta Vallury: I have a very clear message and that is to help others. By helping others you are actually becoming responsible and sensitive to what we say and do. That’s how I define respect. Be sensitive and responsible for what we say and do, and remember it is for our community which we are all a part of. We are creating a better world not just for ourselves but the generations to come.


About Ms. Shanta Vallury,

Group Executive Vice President and Head Corporate Affairs and Chief of Staff for Ratnakar Bank

Over a career spanning 25 years, with a unique blend of experience in the financial sector, she is an integral part of the Core Senior Management of the company. She heads the Special Institutions Group which focuses on providing holistic banking solutions to cooperative societies and banks; NGOs; trusts and educational institutions. In addition to her business responsibility, she drives the internal branding and organisational effectiveness across the Bank to ensure maximum employee engagement. Ms. Vallury is presently the Head -Corporate Social Responsibility and also the Chairperson of the Diversity Committee of the Bank. She is responsible for driving the agreed objectives of the Board on CSR against the set plans.


About RBL Bank


RBL Bank is one of India’s fastest growing scheduled commercial banks with an expanding pan India presence, of over 180 branches / 350 ATMs spread across 13 states. The Bank has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Global Growth Company, 2014 and has been awarded India’s Best Bank (Growth) in the mid-sized bank segment by Business Today-KPMG in two consecutive years, FY12 and FY13.

Established in 1943, RBL Bank undertook a transformational journey under a new management team in 2010. It embarked on an aggressive growth plan based on a robust platform of professional governance, relationships, technology infrastructure, high quality capital and geographic expansion. Today, RBL Bank offers specialized services under five business verticals namely: Corporate & Institutional Banking, Commercial Banking, Retail Banking, Agri & Development Banking and Financial Markets. The Bank currently serves more than 700,000 customers and has a total business size of over Rs. 20,000 Cr. Over the last three years, some of the most notable global and domestic names have infused capital of over Rs. 1,500 Cr., taking TIER 1 capital to Rs. 2,000 Cr. (approx).

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