Daman Sood, COO and Head - Sustainability Practice at Continuity and Resilience
1. Comments on the Mandatory 2% contribution to CSR (The new law passed in India)
I am not too sure about the success of this act. CSR must be voluntary not mandatory. Some companies have been doing better than 2% – now perhaps they would restrict themselves to this figure. By making this act, is the government not shirking away its own responsibility? Almost all corporates, within their CSR program, have an activity around education in underprivileged areas or to underprivileged people – but that’s one of the basic tasks for the government – isn’t it?
2. Sustainable Development the concept and practice: Your comments please
This is a serious issue. If we believe in mythology, the god made the Earth for two people – we are 7 billion today, while the size of the Earth has not increased! Otherwise also, we know that the size of the Earth has not increased while the load (of human activities) has been increasing undoubtedly. The mantra according to me is that we need to be reasonable – we need to control our needs – full stop.
3. The next generation of leaders will be more socially concerned and committed as employers, consumers and investors: Your comments please
They need to be more socially concerned and committed – whether they are, I am not sure. I still see only few people concerned about the society – not many / not all.
4. Sustainable development demands a change in processes, policies and products of a company: is this an opportunity or a threat for Indian corporates?
Blindly, this is an opportunity. But, nothing comes free in this world! A change in processes/policies/ products needs initial additional investment- which at times is huge and then becomes a challenge to the developing countries like India.
5. What opportunities do you see for education institutes in the growing field of CSR and Sustainability?
I see a need to change the curriculums. There must be mandatory chapters on CSR and Sustainability.
6. “Companies that create employee-driven CSR programs, help employees feel a sense of greater purpose; helps attract and retain top talent; and provide strong platforms for employee leadership and development. Your opinion on this.
Theoretically, this is correct. Practically, my experience is that the corporates (and hence the employees) do not really mean this. This is taken just a way out to spend some money (and a little effort by even lesser number of people) for the society. I, truly believe that the S from the CSR must be dropped so that it becomes CR (corporate responsibility). Then I would like to see a day when it becomes PR i.e. personal responsibility – I look forward to most people working for the society rather than a few selected ones.
7. Please describe a CSR activity you have been personally involved in.
I have for long been doing different activities. My two obsessions are:
“Giving back to society”, by means of Free ENGLISH Coaching (over 200 students attend, in the 9th year now), blood donation, food donation, and participation in clean/green environment movements, Adult Literacy Program, sponsoring education of students, including two at Graduation level.
“Interaction with students”, by means of IEEE activities (meeting and motivating students, conducting lectures, sharing knowledge with them, helping them with their presentations).
It is a personal commitment within me and my wife that about one month’s salary should go back to societal causes – so we perhaps do better than the 2% Club!
I am currently member of the ASSOCHAM National Council on Climate Change and ASSOCHAM National Council on Environment & Safety. I have experience of working with CII (Confederation of Indian Industry for over three years as the Convener of the CSR Taskpanel working on Communities and Disasters.
8. Please share Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability activities of your firm.
We are in the Services industry as a Training and Consulting house. We do our bit for society mainly through knowledge dissipation via free webinars and free knowledge sharing sessions. We have also participated in e-waste management drives.
9. Please describe how your company or a company you are closely aware, uses the concept of sustainable development to create better products or services.
We promote these topics of Green IT and Sustainability.
10. Any word of advice for Management Students (especially on why should students across all fields should have an understanding of CSR / Sustainability)
The best time to start on these was yesterday, the next best is NOW! We will struggle for survival in future if we do not accord due focus to CSR and Sustainability immediately. Its difficult to change old people, the students are the future or the future is in the students’ hands, hence they need to understand these subjects and need to act accordingly.