Prashanth Pereira, Group Chief Executive Officer at Sharepro Services (I) Pvt ltd
1) Comments on the Mandatory 2% contribution to CSR : This is a new law passed in India, wherein companies need to spend 2% of their net profit on social development. I believe we are the first country in the world to mandate CSR. It gives the feeling that the government is very serious on CSR. While this is a welcome move, there is also an apprehension that this could lead to forced philanthropy. Also the fact at 2% across the board would mean huge amounts for large companies. This could lead to companies finding avenues to circumnavigate the same. In my personal opinion instead on mandating a figure of 2%, it should have been left open for the corporate to decide for themselves, the focus should have been more on the quality of CSR roll out. Using force could also mean that some corporate would do this grudgingly which in turn would defeat the entire purpose of CSR.
2) Sustainable Development the concept and practice: CSR has been defined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.” This means the integration of social (including human rights), environmental and economic concerns which need to be incorporated into that company’s values and culture. The key challenge for companies today is that best practice management systems for applying CSR are not readily available. The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society. The concept of SD should additionally “include an ethical dimension of fairness of trade-off between current economic pressures and future needs on environment.”
3)The next generation of leaders will be more socially concerned and committed as employers, consumers and investors: while we would like to believe this would happen, this would take some considerable time and effort. CSR is not a very common phenomenon in our daily life, yes the Corporate are aware of the same, but I don’t think the other individuals in the system are, even the corporates have their own interpretations of the same. The effort would be in making CSR understood at the grass root levels, in educational institutions at all levels and in all curriculum’s. Only then we can have a generation that will have leaders and employees more socially concerned.
4)Sustainable development demands a change in processes, policies and products of a company: is this an opportunity or a threat for Indian corporates? : With the new law, we have begun the evolution stage in CSR in India, there have been some large corporates who have been practicing this for years eg: TATA group, others have used it just to channel funds to NGO’s created by them. And every change brings about its share of pros and cons. Fundamentally it is an excellent opportunity to do good, however it all depends on the corporate or individual on how they would like to apply the same. Also it is unclear on how or who will be monitoring on how the money is spent.
5)What opportunities do you see for education institutes in the growing field of CSR and Sustainability : Of course, with the government passing the mandate, all corporates will need a team specialized to deliver and sustain CSR. Which means it is a good opportunity for education institutes to have courses in CSR which individuals can take up and turn into CSR professionals. The education institutes will have a larger role in ensuring socially responsible individuals, leaders and ultimately organizations.
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 : I believe, a socially aware and responsible leadership helps create a positive organization where employees thrive, and also helps in attracting top talent. In simple terms is that we win together, because we will have a team that is more responsible and socially aware. The faster the Companies realize this the faster will the objective of CSR be achieved in its true sense.
7)Given that CASI is widely recognized as the Global certification Body, What is the opportunity for CASI in India? : Well the opportunity seems limitless as you have an entire country which has been mandated by the legislation to carry out CSR, so no selling of idea required. Since CASI is a globally renowned body it can
a)It can conduct certification courses for CSR
b)Can help in framing guidelines for CSR
c)Share Global best practices
d)Conduct training for Corporates
e)Conduct knowledge sessions for Top Management to help them to deliver CSR in their respective organizations.
8)Please describe a CSR activity you have been personally involved in : I was involved with CSR in the company that I was earlier employed with. Our team assisted in evaluating and short listing NGOs where we would get involved. Our efforts included helping them garner funds while providing them with funds from our own pool. Also helping them set up and grow, ensuring assistance in managing their set up, using technology as an enabler. At the same time having teams from different departments and group companies participate as volunteers in their programs on a regular basis.
9)Any word of advice for Management Students : While education helps you open the doors, you attitude will help to reach your destination. While you have your Goals and Priorities set, Be Open, cause opportunity comes from various directions, one must be alert and awake to pick up the opportunity that comes before us and that could lead to a much better destination that you imagined. Sometimes we are limited by a belief that we are good in some area, when we have not explored other areas…challenge yourself, it will bring the best in you. Spend some of your free time in social service or with some NGO’s… it will help you be humble and grounded.
*Views may be personal in nature and may not necessarily reflect those of the organization