Corporate Social Responsibility…

What do Rockefeller , Ford , Carnegie , Warren Buffet , Bill Gates , and nearer home , Tata , Birla , Azim Premji , Narayan Murthy , Shiv Nadar , Dr. K A Reddy et al have in common ? Well , these are some of the high profile names that come across as shining examples of entrepreneurs who made it big and yet believed in their commitment to society and the larger welfare of humanity .
That brings us to defining corporate social responsibility , or CSR in its widely known abbreviation . Nothing exists in a vacuum . Creation of wealth through any organized activity consists of the collective efforts of dedicated groups of people drawing on resources in myriad forms , all of which in turn has a social claim on the wealth creator or the corporate . Corporate Social Responsibility finds its fulfillment , when the concerned individual or corporate entity contributes benevolently to the welfare of the society by setting up institutions like schools , hospitals , orphanages , old age homes or sponsors sporting events , tournaments , performing arts etc in the environment in which they operate . Such action becomes a reciprocal gesture , whereby the individual or the corporate pays back a portion of what has been drawn from the society .
Progress and development do not happen through efforts and contributions of governments alone as the resources in the hands of governments are limited and not adequate to cater to all requirements in all areas . It is here that Non Governmental Organisations , popularly known as NGOs , charitable institutions , corporate entities and high net-worth individuals , abbreviating as HNIs , must come forward to contribute in greater measure and in an attitude of philanthropy ; philanthropy stands for private initiatives , for public good , focusing on quality of life in contrast to business , which is private initiative for private good , focusing on material prosperity ; and government , which is public initiatives for public good , focusing on law and order . Etymologically , philanthropy means love of humanity in the sense of caring for , nourishing , developing , and enhancing the quality of humanism on both the benefactors’ ( by identifying and exercising their values in giving and volunteering ) and beneficiaries’ ( by benefitting ) parts . Instances of philanthropy commonly overlap with instances of charity , though not all charity is philanthropy , or vice-versa . The commonly cited difference is that charity relieves the pains of social problems , whereas philanthropy attempts to solve those problems at their root causes , explained as the difference between giving a hungry man a fish , and teaching him how to fish for himself .
In organizational studies , philanthropy by corporations is often defined as charitable monetary donations , including donations in areas such as the arts , education , housing , health , social welfare , and the environment , among others , but excluding political contributions and commercial sponsorship.
The term ‘corporate social responsibility’ or ‘CSR’ gained currency in the late 1960s and early 1970s after many multinational corporations coined the term ’stakeholder’ , to mean those impacted by an organisation’s activities , denoting a wider audience beyond shareholders . in other words , CSR is self-regulation integrated into a business model , whereby it functions as a built-in , self-regulating mechanism monitoring business and ensuring its active compliance within the spirit of the law , ethical standards , and international norms , a process aiming to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment , consumers , employees , shareholders , communities and all other members of the public sphere who may also be considered as stakeholders in a wider sense . This in turn has evolved into a new form of CSR , which is based more on process and activity than donation of funds and resources . Called creating shared value ( CSV ), this model is based on the idea that corporate success and social weal are interdependent . Businesses need healthy , educated workforce , sustainable resources and responsive and adept governments to operate effectively . For society to thrive , it is imperative to support and develop profitable and competitive businesses to generate employments and purchasing power in the hands of people , wealth , tax revenues , and opportunities for further investments . Thus CSV model advocates ethical practices in production and commerce , prudent utilization of resources , avoidance of wastages and rework , focus on health , safety , environment and quality .
Utilization of depleting natural resources in a sustainable manner , conservation of environment through proper disposal of harmful effluents , increasing carbon credit vide controlling emissions , reducing dependence on hydro carbons by promotion of non-conventional energy resources such as wind , sea -waves and solar , recycling of waste , rain water harvesting and power generation from organic waste are all initiatives propelled by the salutary impact on individuals , institutions , governments and corporate entities , prompted by the compelling need for sustainable development and environmental conservation . Corporate social responsibility becomes vibrantly visible in all above contexts .
The various trusts and foundations set up by aforementioned individuals and corporate entities have effected beneficial changes in societies , by uplifting the lives of people and substantially developing whole regions . One has only to look at the activities of a Rockefeller Foundation or foundations of Tata or Birla or Narayan Murthy Trust or the various sponsorships of countless individuals, NGOs , religious and charitable institutions, and corporate entities to figure out the positive impact and progress that it has wrought in the lives of people and through it the societies at large . To cite a small example , one of the prominent builders in Mumbai sponsored a half-marathon in a condominium complex involving the participation of around 4500 men , women and children . The event was flagged off by the city police commissioner, in the presence of local member of parliament and other dignitaries. It was appropriately stated by the builder that he was not merely building houses but creating entire communities , aimed at promoting camaraderie , health and happiness of people . The proceeds from the event were donated for treatment of cancer-afflicted children. Yet another example was the organization of “Nature Walk” inside the huge condominium complex of 200 acres plus. Children growing up in cities were far removed from nature’s wonderful sights and sounds. The aforementioned event had groups of children taking a walking tour of the natural environs under well-informed tour guides; equipped with binoculars and ornithologist salim ali’s book (for quick reference), the nature walk was an edifying experience for the children, getting closer feel of the flora and fauna, an awareness that may further advance their spirit of enquiry and concern for environment.
CSR working as an in-built and self-regulating mechanism in businesses has its manifestations in initiatives such as HSE&Q (Health , Safety , Environment & Quality) , TQM (Total Quality Management) , green designs in constructions and production of machines and equipments with lower emissions , green production practices reducing wastage and neutralizing any harmful effluents . In transportation and logistics , CSR concerns , directed at achieving lower emission levels , project itself in the form of modal shifts from road to rail and from rail to water transportation and in the substitution of fuel from diesel to CNG and electric locomotion to power trucks , buses and railway engines ; accordingly aircraft designs are improving in aerodynamics , ship designs and architecture are incorporating innovations in hull coatings and finishes to afford smoother movement through water to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions .
In a world of diminishing ozone levels , depleting resources and growing requirements , any activity or development , be it economic , political or scientific , cannot be isolated from social and environmental concerns . The old slogan of economic development with social justice has now evolved to stamp its relevance on every field of commercial activity in the form of corporate social responsibility , to underline the need of not only responsible citizens , but also responsible corporate citizens .

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2 thoughts on “Corporate Social Responsibility…

  1. Hi,
    I have been glancing through your essays on your blog. I find them erudite and expansive, giving a rare world view of 360 degrees. The blog on light was wonderful.. Way to go…
    Regards, CK

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