While tying into larger goals of sustainability and development, CSR initiatives also provide a big boost to the brand image of the business. More investors, employees, and customers are inclined to associate with brands that are socially responsible and committed to making a positive impact.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout has taught us that the government and administrative agencies alone cannot be held responsible for the aid and upliftment of our country and society. Efforts by social groups, business entities, and even by the top corporate leaders of India uplift the nation, thereby leading to positive externalities for all. In fact, business leaders and innovators such as Sanjiv Bajaj and Ratan Tata, have stepped up and led several social initiatives on behalf of their business houses over the past couple of years. This brings into sharp focus the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs and initiatives of India’s major business houses. Let us take a look at how a business can build a robust CSR program.
CSR – The Win-Win Policy
Corporate Social Responsibility, as the name suggests, is the philosophy that makes any corporate entity or business more responsible and accountable to the community, country, and environment.
Most famous financial leaders aim at making a difference to stakeholders. The focus has slowly but surely been moving from mere profit making to crafting a diverse and strong employee culture, to bolstering equal opportunity and diversity policies, and to building brand responsiveness and trust. Corporations in India and abroad are now acknowledging that the role of a business enterprise should be far-reaching and should help leave a positive impact in the community and on the environment. Led by famous Indian entrepreneurs, CSR initiatives are finding a firm footing in India.
CSR is a win-win mantra. Not only does it initiate programs for social development, but also clearly provides a great boost to the corporate brand image. Investors, customers, and prospective employees prefer to associate with brands and business houses that are socially responsible. According to the 2019 AFLAC CSR survey, 77% of consumers were motivated to buy from companies committed to making the world better.
Corporate Citizenship for the Win
With sustainable business practices becoming the accepted norm rather than a directive, CSR has now become the driving force of most business enterprises. Wholesome development along with financial viability is being built into the very core principles that drive business entities. Brands that are socially and environmentally conscious are also being looked upon favourably by governments and policymakers due to their contribution to the economy and environment. In many cases, this clearly translates into tax reliefs, subsidies, and other financial gains for the business itself. This initiation into corporate citizenship helps employees and stakeholders of the business connect better with the world around them.
Tips To Build and Improve Your CSR
- Go top-down – The need to initiate CSR programs needs to come from the top. Social accountability and change coming from some of the top corporate leaders in India such as Azim Premji, Anand Mahindra, Sanjiv Bajaj, N.R. Narayana Murthy and others have marked the change in the business environment and have sparked a passion for community responsibility. India's key policymakers have responded favourably to the call of these entrepreneurs and established legislation and administrative directives that help companies build their CSR vision.
- Build ethical policies – CSR is not just an initiative. It needs to be built into the very fabric of the corporation or business. This could mean establishing a mission that translates into solid policies and directives that fuel the day-to-day functioning of the company. A simple decision to go paperless or to switch to clean energy could bring about a marked change in the way your company functions.
- Collaborate, corporate – CSR initiatives could bring corporate rivals together, bound by a shared goal. The best CSR initiatives are those that bring together market players and change the way the industry functions. Such collaborations and a cooperative approach can benefit the business house in more ways than we can imagine.
- Encourage, evolve –CSR must be made as a way of life in organisations. Encourage open communication and welcome ideas to build policies that are in sync with your vision. Change can be initiated at every level and ideas too can come from all quarters. Cohesive evolution in the right direction can be the hallmark of some of the best outreach initiatives. According to a 2020 survey, about 88% of employees believe that apart from making profits, companies must positively impact society as well.
Some great CSR initiatives stay out of sight due to low visibility. Spreading the word Showcasing your community responsibility programs can help gain a great deal of visibility and support. Harness the power of social media to build stronger brand visibility and reputation with your CSR initiatives and community ties. Join hands with some of the Top disciplined leader in India and boost your company’s CSR.
As we navigate our way through this devastating pandemic and discover the ground under our feet, it has become all the more important that businesses focus on community revitalisation, building stronger work ethics and assisting communities in combating food insecurity and lack of education. CSR is the most important philosophy and action plan that your business will need in the times to come.
Published by GAURAV KHANNA