Converging CSR efforts
The CSR bill, passed under Companies Act 2013, completed three years in April 2017. Given that companies were required to spend 2 % of the previous three years’ net profit, activities in this space certainly saw sizeable momentum with last minute spends, formation of committees, and collation of reports. CSR is slowly, but steadily, evolving with larger organizations beginning to focus on CSR as a strategic mandate to drive sustainable growth. Responsible business is beyond philanthropy and Business Units are collaborating to identify needs that need addressing.
Traditionally, CSR was primarily associated with a ‘feel good’ factor and organizations restricted activities to neighborhoods, in-kind and monetary donations, blood camps and programs wherein a large number of employees could participate. This was often run as campaigns internally and promoted a sense of corporate citizenship and strengthened the organization culture.
With sustainability now becoming an increasingly familiar word in corporate circles, CSR and sustainability mandates are getting entwined to take shape in the form of 3-5 year long-term strategic mandates that are often thought of as directions on ‘How profit should be made?’ rather than ‘What is to be done with profits?’ Corporates are thus driving initiatives in environment, social inclusion and economic progress of the larger eco-system depending on the industry and sectors they belong to. CSR initiatives are a definitive tool for Brand Communication and internal and external stakeholder engagement at one end of the spectrum and stretch to market penetration, human resource development and new product innovation on the other.
A trend today that is noticeable and one that seems to be in the right direction, is the convergence of activities by corporates in the same sector to benefit their eco-system. Labournet recently inaugurated one such example of a partnership between SKF (Swedish leader in bearings and seal manufacturing) and TVS Motors (Leading 2-wheeler manufacturer in India). SKF funds and mentors a state-of-the art training unit in automobile technician courses. The graduates from this institute become a steady source of supply at TVS dealer networks across Karnataka. TVS has invested in equipment for the labs (TVS vehicles) which gives the students a hands-on experience in working on these automobiles. Curricula have been customized for TVS and teachers trained on this course. Thus SKF is the principal sponsor through its CSR and TVS the beneficiary. The biggest gainer here, of course is the student where they learn at a center of excellence with a high probability of getting employed by one of the largest brands in the country. SKF’s flagship skilling program thus promises to see high impact in terms of outcomes and strengthens its credibility in the sector.
Initiatives such as these clearly demonstrate how partnerships can strengthen project impact. Convergence of efforts is the name of the game!
Until next time,
Vice-President, CSR and Sustainability Solutions
LabourNet Services India Pvt. Ltd.