Is corporate social responsibility (CSR) just another fad or does it really help society? Is it enough to allocate a portion of the company budget for CSR? Whatever be the answers, there’s no denying that CSR has become an inevitable part of the corporate sector and industry.
A seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility and Grass-roots Transformation — Making the Twain Meet, presented by PC Chandra Jewellers, in association with The Telegraph, on the occasion of Human Rights Day at The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry on December 10 saw entrepreneurs and management gurus discuss CSR from the point of view of corporates, the youth and the media.
A.K. Chandra, the group MD of the PC Chandra Group and the guest of honour, shared a personal experience. “I visited a village school recently, where we had made a small contribution. The school didn’t have any drinking water facility and we helped it instal a water tank. The joy I saw on the faces of about 1,200 students was unimaginable. Several cocktail parties may not give me that happiness.”
Sanjoy Mukherjee of IIM Shillong cited the instance of the Tatas who have always kept a part of their budget for CSR even in times of crisis, he said: “Keep the fire burning. Preserve the intent.”
N.K. Shyamsukha, the founder president of Terapanth Professional Forum, that helps unemployed get jobs, and Raja Menon, the director of Jeevika, described their experience in trying to empower society. “Let’s start with small projects first. Good people join in automatically,” Shyamsukha said.
Menon underlined the need to break stereotypes and create a healthy work environment. “We need to know how our cleaning staff are being treated. Are male and female employees being paid equally? Does the company have a functional sexual harassment cell? Such internal checks are an important part of a company's social responsibility.”
Seema Sapru, principal of The Heritage School, and Amitava Bhattacharya, the founder of Banglanatak.com, highlighted the role of youth in CSR. “The youth will be attracted to the attractive. Make CSR attractive. It has to touch the chord of the youth,” said Bhattacharya.
The other speakers included Rudrangshu Mukherjee of The Telegraph and Deepak Pramanik, the founder and chief strategy officer of Aidias Consulting Group. R. Bandopadhyay, the former secretary of ministry of corporate affairs, was the chief guest.