· The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not new to India, because businesses have been responsible towards the society, observed Dr K. Rosaiah, His Excellency, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, at the inauguration of Conference and Exhibition on CSR organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Citing a quote of management guru, Peter F. Drucker, that the twenty-first century would be the century of the social sector organisation where the community will matter, he added that the growing importance of CSR has rewritten the relationship with all stakeholders. “Companies should consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, communities, and other stakeholders, as well as the environment. Making CSR an intrinsic part of the business plan is imperative,” the Governor said, after inaugurating the CSR Exhibition at the conference venue.
Emphasising that the CSR policy should function as built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby businesses would monitor and ensure their adherence to law, ethical standards and international norms, Dr Rosaiah lauded the theme of CII, viz. ‘Conscious Competitiveness,’ as a noble and necessary approach, which optimises the engagement of the stakeholders of the business, thereby leading to a healthy and sustainable society. He also commended the UNICEF for partnering with CII in the area of CSR. “I am sure that this partnership will act as a think-tank, and play an advocacy and advisory role for CSR activities in the area of children welfare. This kind of professional approach in CSR is being expected by the member companies of CII, and I hope this partnership will make the industries get involved actively in fulfilling the social needs,” he observed.
Underlining that CSR is not just about doing the right thing but also about deriving business benefits, the Governor said in his inaugural address that building reputation as a responsible business sets any company apart. “CSR should be considered beyond statutory compliance; industries should take this as an opportunity to take part in the nation-building process. Improving the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large is imperative. If a company chooses to follow the way of CSR, it will integrate ethical concerns in its activities and in its interaction with all the stakeholders,” Dr Rosaiah advised.
· The theme address by Dr Nachiket Mor, Chairman, CSR Taskforce CII SR, Board Member & Head Financial Inclusion Panel – Reserve Bank of India, gave the audience an outline of the conference, themed ‘CSR beyond compliance’. The conference would aim to bring out diverse stakeholder viewpoints on CSR in practice and the possible strategies to make CSR effective and oriented towards creating impact in a systematic manner, he explained. Giving details about the four panel discussions – on business responsibility going beyond CSR, integrating CSR as part of business, CSR as a valuable business strategy for MSMEs, and child survival and development as an important component of CSR – Mr Mor highlighted the importance of learning how we all can create shared value.
· Earlier, in his introductory remarks, Mr B. Santhanam, Chairman, CII Southern Region, and President – Flat Glass, South Asia, Egypt & Managing Director, Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd, described the recent legislation on CSR as an incredible opportunity for businesses to leverage and scale up social activities. “The idea is not just to fulfil the mandated criteria, and comply with the rules on CSR. We have to ensure that there is an impact on society,” he noted.
Reminding that many of the problems in the society require scalable programmes – something that businesses are good at – Mr Santhanam urged corporates to pool up the 2% resources stipulated by law, and scale up the CSR projects, incorporating the best practices from different companies. “Focus not just on ideas, but implementation, too. Work towards tangible outcomes,” he said.
· The special address by Dr Satish Kumar, Chief - State Office for TN & Kerala, UNICEF India, drew attention to the fact that children are among the key stakeholders of any business. Small and large businesses can impact children through operations, market polices, products, recruitment practices, and so on, he stated.
· In his closing remarks, Mr Navas Meeran, Deputy Chairman, CII Southern Region & Managing Director, Eastern Condiments Pvt Ltd, reminded that CSR is relevant for achieving broad-based and sustained growth of the economy. “Corporates have to create trust among all the stakeholders. It is the responsibility of leaders to bring about change, by looking at value chain and identifying opportunities,” he said.
You will get access to following Knowledge Resources by subscribing to the Digital
Library of this event.