Calcutta, Dec. 26: Infosys chief N. R. Narayana Murthy’s call for corporates with a cause seems to be yielding results. India Inc has started looking beyond mere profitability and is doing its bit for the society and the environment. From board meets to B-school curriculum, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the latest buzzword.
And the Corporate Social Responsibility Survey 2002–India jointly conducted by the United Nations Development Programme, British Council, Confederation of Indian Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers, covering 19 industry sectors confirms the CSR fad. It reveals that companies are keen to project themselves as good corporate citizens, but they lack planning and most initiatives have a narrow focus.
“With the rise in social expectations from companies, Indian industry is now intensifying its CSR initiatives and use it as a selling point in the competitive marketplace,” explains Anup Sinha, professor, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. He said other factors for the CSR fad include increase in the power of business entities and their desire to share responsibility with the sovereign state.
As part of the survey, over 100 companies—with a turnover ranging from over Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 10 crore—responded to questionnaires sent to around 1,000 companies during September-October 2002. Besides, a group of researchers conducted an in-depth study of CSR programmes in top-notch business houses like the Aditya Birla group, ICICI Bank, Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd.
The respondents unanimously acknowledged that social responsibility was no longer an exclusive domain of the government and CSR is much more than “passive philanthropy”.
The survey mentions how the Aditya Birla group has shifted from G. D. Birla’s focus on charity to Kumar Mangalam Birla’s thrust on shareholders, customers, employees and the community at large, in its CSR initiatives. Rajashree Birla, who heads the group’s community initiatives, lists the reasons behind their initiatives.