CSR – The heart of business

CSR – The heart of business

Mr Rajiv Williams

Head, Corporate Social Responsibility

‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the direct connect between head and heart. It becomes impactful only when you speak the language of the heart.’

Corporate Governance has been well articulated in the company’s vision statement of ‘Improving lives through trustworthy and innovative solutions’. This includes the ‘Beyond Business’ activities that are focused on the communities that cross our paths. It is in this context that Jindal Stainless has been engaged in improving lives of people in and around the manufacturing facilities.

In this 3 part series, I will talk about CSR and its functions in detail, based on a three-pronged approach - Why, What and How.

Why CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the strategic approach toward sustainable community development and the key to inclusive growth. With increased emphasis on sustainable economic development and with the introduction of the Companies Bill 2013, the Indian corporate sector has the responsibility of remaining connected with the community by sharing its economic advantage through various community-based programmes and initiatives. These programmes are focused around the needs of the local communities at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP), aimed at empowering them with employable skills and giving them - especially women, a voice to deal with domestic violence and engage in other social issues. It is equally important for the industry to sensitize their employees on real social issues and encourage volunteering in community work. This helps employees understand the community in the vicinity of their areas of responsibility and in the process, addresses issues relating to human rights and business. The bottom line in the realm of CSR is to engage and connect with people by firstly listening to them and then speaking the dialect most accepted by them i.e. ‘language of the heart’.

The triple bottom line approach, which corporations are required to follow, has been adequately discussed and many are aware of the basic rudiments of respecting the three ‘Ps’, i.e. People, Planet, Profit. At the heart of the three is the first ‘P’ – People. The purpose of a corporate is to engage in activities aimed at making profits for the growth and development of people. If this growth stays limited to the personal gains of a handful of people, and does not benefit the society at large, then the longevity of such gains is short lived and there are many examples to testify such a statement. However, when such gains are shared with people, both employees and the larger communities, which are the key stakeholders, then this growth becomes sustainable. To ensure such sustainability in business, a corporate has to ensure that ‘Respect’ for the environment remains supreme and there should be a conscious effort to preserve the ‘Planet’. It is imperative for any corporate to preserve the planet by adopting good practices in their operations and ensuring people are happy at work. The old adage that the ‘business of business houses is to make profits’ is true, yet in today’s context a corporate cannot make profits without respecting the other two ‘Ps’, People and Planet.