Corporate Social Responsibility, the Sustainable Way

The idea of being socially relevant and engaging with sustainable business activities has taken center-stage. CSR has become an intrinsic part of sustainability within a company.

 

India has a long tradition of undertaking philanthropic activities. Over the last few decades, the idea of ‘giving to society’ has undergone a radical shift. Charity or philanthropy activities have moved on to a whole new dimension of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The idea of being socially relevant and engaging with sustainable business activities has taken center-stage. CSR has become an intrinsic part of sustainability within a company.

 

As companies became aware of their responsibilities, the debate started on activities that can accomplish the goals, and how best to measure initiatives which are sustainable. Hence, emerged the concept of Triple Bottom Line (TBL), a framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance: economic sustainability, social sustainability, and environmental sustainability. The TBL clearly reinforces the importance of developing activities in a structured way that reflects the company’s own objectives and the requirements of its key stakeholders.

 

At Jubilant Life Sciences, our promise of ‘Caring, Sharing, Growing’ along with our stakeholders, forms the genesis of all our CSR activities directed towards sustainable growth of the company. Jubilant has a robust mechanism for reporting triple bottom line performance. We were amongst the first ten companies in India to have believed in transparency, and to come up with a Sustainability Report, way back in 2002-03. We were also the first Indian company to join the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in 2005.

 

The Amendment in the Companies Act 2013 has given a new push to CSR. Many corporates are now making their CSR activities strategic and aligned with societal needs. While focusing on community needs, companies are taking up activities which are sustainable, and are continuously undertaking measures for impact measurement. However, efforts should be made to identify those projects that have the ability to address the concerns of various stakeholders. At Jubilant, we realize that health, hygiene, nutrition, education and skill development are contributors to the social development of the community around our operational locations, resulting in an improvement in the quality of life of the neighbouring community.

 

Communities are a company’s partners for change. It is the activities for the community that provide business the ‘social license to operate’ by building trust, and improving brand reputation. Hence, a company’s CSR foundations and NGOs should give priority to those projects which address the concerns and needs of its stakeholders. This will strengthen the ecosystem in which the company operates, and will support the sustainability of the business. CSR initiatives should also look for societal challenges, and therefore companies need to align their CSR programs accordingly.

 

At Jubilant Life Sciences, we engage with the community on a regular basis. All CSR activities are undertaken through the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation (JBF), a not-for-profit organization, responsible for conceptualizing and implementing the CSR initiatives for the Group. The JBF engages with communities around the company’s manufacturing locations.

 

Continuing partnerships with local and global organizations make CSR projects more sustainable and effective. In India, around 350 million Indians still live below the poverty line and struggle to access basic education, healthcare, proper nutrition and other basic infrastructure. This is where social entrepreneurs are now working to provide innovative, practical and sustainable solutions to address various issues that affect society.

 

The Jubilant Bhartia Group, under its project of enabling a conducive environment for Social Entrepreneurship, has been partnering with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship to conduct the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) Awards in India since 2010. The award recognizes promising and successful social entrepreneurs, with excellence in large-scale system change models. These social entrepreneurs are one of the key enablers of inclusive growth. They implement practical and sustainable solutions to address challenges in various areas, such as health, education, and environment, access to technology, and job creation.

 

Companies with an intent to contribute to societal development, but having limited resources of money, manpower, and knowledge, can opt for institutional partnerships. The CII Foundation serves these needs. The CII Foundation has been working with several individual companies to conceptualize and offer a boutique of social development projects with multiple donor participation. These projects are developed, managed and monitored by the  Foundation. An example I would like to mention here is the Uttarakhand floods, that caused havoc in June 2013. In addition to immediate relief interventions, the CII Foundation initiated the Uttarakhand Rehabilitation Project for the affected families. These included interventions focusing on education, skilling, employment, community livelihood, women empowerment and environment. One key initiative undertaken in education was of rebuilding schools. The project aimed at rebuilding eight completely damaged primary schools in District Tehri Garhwal. The school intervention includes reconstruction of the schools; providing all furnishings; providing learning aids; along with softer interventions aimed at enhancing the learning experience for children and the teaching skills of the faculty.
If companies had decided to take this up individually, it might have lacked scale and sustainability. However, through partnership, it was possible to achieve scale, impact and sustainability.

 

CSR has been in existence in India for a long time. Indian companies have been contributing to social upliftment in their own ways. Over time, CSR has become an intrinsic part of a company’s overall sustainability strategy. Today, I see companies opting out of multiple CSR activities and starting to consolidate their initiatives under three or four key areas of interest. This step is helping their investment yield the intended results. The approach is to make CSR programs sustainable, without the burden of carrying forward activities in isolation.

 

The article is an excerpt from the CII Foundation book ‘The Privilege of Responsibility: Perspectives from Corporate India’. The book has contributions from eminent industry leaders who have shared their thought leadership on themes of development, CSR and philanthropy.

 

The book covers issues ranging from the Trusteeship Model, Philanthropy & CSR as the sustainable way to SDGs, CSR economy & Creating Premium by Creating Value. The eminent authors, who are also the Trustees of CII Foundation Board (2015-16), have shared their outlook on corporate responsibility towards society, governing factors, the economy & business strategy of CSR, and the future of CSR in the country.

 

The book was brought out in April 2016 to commemorate five years of CII Foundation. CII Foundation, a trust set up by CII in 2011, works with member companies towards CSR implementation by channelizing efforts towards designing, developing and managing customized and high impact development projects. Know more on CII Foundation at www.ciifoundation.in

 

This article is penned down by Mr Hari S Bhartia, Past President, CII and Co-Chairman & Managing Director – Jubilant Life Sciences Limited.

 

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