Swati Bhattacharya, VP- Corporate Relations, Branding & Public Affairs at Ingersoll Rand
1.Comments on the Mandatory 2% contribution to CSR
The Companies Act 2013 is landmark legislation and will have far reaching consequences on all companies operating in India. It is for sure raises the bar on governance, deals with investor protection, fraud mitigation, auditor accountability, director responsibility, enhanced disclosure norms stricter enforcement and institutional restructure.The mandatory 2% contribution to CSR will help organizations like ours to further our Corporate Social Responsibility footprint in the country and scale up our involvement and commitment for the causes we believe in. Most importantly, it will provide an excellent opportunity to converge multiple technologies, applications and resources of various Organizations including government, community, and private sector to deliver a comprehensive solution to improve the living standards of the societies around us. Good governance will be key to ensure that the Act is run and managed in the spirit that it was created.
2. Sustainable Development the concept and practice: your comments please
As a concept, Sustainable Development is inclusive development that will effectively utilize and conserve our resources for the future generations. Focus on sustainable development by any organization will ensure growth is environmentally sound and meets the basic needs of all stakeholders, hence, being inclusive.
Sustainable Development as a practice needs to effectively cover a holistic approach to business, strategy, technology and growth. As quoted in the Brundtland Report**, “Sustainable development can be reduced to two key concepts – the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”
As an organizational example, at Ingersoll Rand, we have undertaken various initiatives to further our Sustainable Development goals. Here are some examples:
- We created the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES) to ensure there was a dedicated team focused on the efforts – otherwise, sustainability often becomes a part of someone’s other responsibilities.
- From a grass roots level, we have more than 114 global volunteer Green Teams that actively drive projects focused on waste reduction and energy efficiency. These have doubled over the last year, and through our surveys, sites with Green Teams generally have higher employee engagement scores.
- The Sustainable Habitat initiative at Ingersoll Rand India, is collaborating with the larger community to help design a solution that will innovatively address the housing needs of emerging economies while optimizing both natural and financial resources. Given the pressure on natural resources today, there is a critical need in emerging economies for affordable housing that takes into account factors such as low energy usage, comfort, safety and security of occupants.
With the world moving towards Sustainable Development Goals, from the Millennium Development Goals, a ‘business-like’ approach to developmental issues may ensure a secure and realistic solution to sustainable development in India, given that our country has framed a “first to the world” CSR mandate for India Inc with wholesome social transformation as its key objective.Businesses today need to treat Sustainability as a growth catalyst and integrate sustainability in all aspects of a company’s operations and business strategy.
3. “Inequality will be a driving force for new thinking about greater commitment to ethics, morality in business decisions and capitalism itself”: Please comment.
For the past few decades, “sustainability” strategies have focused on eco-efficiency, stakeholder engagement, and social responsibility in existing core businesses. Now companies are being challenged to develop breakthrough innovations that confront directly the two biggest problems facing humanity: growing inequity and accelerating environmental degradation. The challenge—and the opportunity-is to harness technological and business model innovation to create new growth platforms that simultaneously regenerate the environment and lift the base of the income pyramid – hence, addressing inequality.There is need to evolve a strategy to improve the triple bottom line, that is, the economic, social and environmental performance of businesses in India.
Globally, a trend to reckon is that a company’s long-term financial success goes hand in hand with its record on social responsibility, environmental stewardship and corporate ethics. Hence, an increasing focus on transparency, trust, community participation and a commitment to ethics. For business, environmental, social and governance responsibilities are no longer add-ons – they are integral to success.
4. The next generation of leaders will be more socially concerned and committed as employers, consumers and investors: Your comments please
The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer examines trust in four key institutions — government, business, media, and NGOs — as well as communications channels and sources. A key highlight of the report states how CEOs must become chief engagement officers in order to educate the public about the economic, societal, political and environmental context in which their business operates. That covers the leaders of today.
The future leaders covering people at the mid or junior level today are also better equipped with digital engagement and their career has been influenced by the problems that our society is marred with. With the advent of digital age, people are more informed and updated on global issues. Hence decades down the line, when these people will be the leaders of tomorrow, the concern for social issues and commitments towards them will come naturally to them. With these we all can hope for a better future.
5. Sustainable development demands a change in processes, policies and products of a company: is this an opportunity or a threat for Indian corporates?
Until recently a handful of Indian organisations used to invest in sustainable development and syncing their entire operation around sustainability. As more and more Indian organisations have started investing in sustainable development, they have started realising the process and policies around it.
At Ingersoll Rand, we believe • Sustainability does not come at a cost! It furthers our ability to deliver strong financial performance alongside strong sustainability performance. Sustainability is adding value to our shareholders, customers, employees and other stakeholders.
While there is not a direct line that equates sustainability performance to earnings per share or share price, we know that it does contribute to our bottom line through better productivity; increase our competitiveness and differentiates our offerings through more sustainable solutions; and helps us mitigate risk through supply chain management and exposure to energy costs (as an example). We track our performance against large goals and then measure our progress. To elucidate with an example – Sustainability is “built-into” our Product development Planning now. It should not be separate activity or after thought.
Sustainable development poses a huge opportunity for companies across the world including India – all we need is better understanding and integrating the goals of Sustainability in the contours of our operations.
6. What opportunities do you see for education institutes in the growing field of CSR and Sustainability a. As in knowledge management, consulting and policy development b. Developing new programs
Education institutes should lead the way towards sustainability since they are directly involved in the learning process of the future generation i.e. the leaders of tomorrow. However they need to involve the entire ecosystem in the process. Policy makers, corporate, social workers all needs to be the stakeholders to make the process effective. Hence, the institutions can be the cradle for knowledge development, consulting, implementing programmes and advocate policy around the field of CSR.
7. “Companies that create employee-driven CSR programs help workers feel a sense of greater purpose; helps attract and retain top talent; and provide strong platforms for employee leadership and development. In today’s world, employee volunteer programs are an essential component of a company’s CSR approach, one which unquestionably benefits employees, the community and the company.”
a. What is your opinion on the same? Please give a descriptive answer
I believe that no social outreach is complete without the involvement from the employees. Volunteering employees are an organisation’s asset in their quest for making a bigger impact in the society.All businesses need to have goals integrated around increased employee engagement.
At Ingersoll Rand, we know that sites with Green Team employees have higher engagement scores, so we doubled the number of Green Teams across the org in 2012. Further, Ingersoll Rand India has partnered with different organisations and NGOs to engage with social issues. From forestation drives to develop better and efficient urban habitat, an employee volunteered collection drive for underprivileged children, relief for natural disaster, pushing the cause for girl child education by providing world class infrastructure and study material to schools deprived of such facilities.
8. In your opinion,
a. What is the opportunity for CASI in India? b. Being a Global Brand, CASI has a terrific reach, which strata of the society do you think we should reach out to further? c. How do you think senior management practitioners would benefit from CASI certifications?
With the Companies Act and the 2% mandatory CSR contribution for companies in India, there is a huge opportunity for learning and development organizations in India. As per MCA, over 16,000 companies fall within the purview of Section 135; around 20,000 crores in total, will be spent by Corporates each year on CSR; around 30,000 Directors of Boards will be directly involved. There is a dearth of experienced CSR professionals and courses in this industry will help fulfil the need for the business and industry in India.
There is a need for a large number of CSR professionals and to create an NGO Hub which will, inter alia, empanel credible implementing agencies. There is also a need to create a shelf of projects from which companies and Implementing Agencies may choose.
The opportunity arises not only to target the students and under graduates but also experienced professionals who would like to gain learning on the tools and methodologies of implementing effective CSR practices for an organization.
10. What is the business case for CSR? Is it the same in developed economies as in emerging markets? Would you please describe a specific environmental, social or governance issue from a business case for CSR perspective, comparing and contrasting the business case for CSR perspective of the specific issue in a developed economy and in an emerging market.
Once again quoting from the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer that examines trust in four key institutions — government, business, media, and NGOs — as well as communications channels and sources.Some key findings include respondents believing that Businesses need to lead the debate for change. “It’s the responsibility of business to redefine and re-prioritize the way it thinks about value,” said Ben Boyd, global practice chair, Corporate, Edelman. “Today’s world requires a shift from the historic, transactional nature of capitalism to a model of value creation that encompasses societal benefit as well as shareholder value”. A majority of respondents (84 percent) also believed that business can pursue its self-interest while doing good work for society and a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social and economic conditions in the communities where it operates.
Amongst the 16 specific attributes that build trust, Edelman Trust Barometer includes:
o Works to protect and improve the environment
o Addresses society needs in everyday business
o Creates programs that positively impact the local community
o Partners with NGOs, government and third parties to address societal
CSR and Innovation is critical for emerging economies because the solutions that result from research and development activities in emerging economies better address the needs of a large population that is defining the growth of the global economy.
The social engagement strategy of organizations in India need to develop and keep in mind the needs of a large growing population. Ingersoll Rand for example, has launched the “Social Convergence” initiative that entails converging multiple technologies and applications from various Organizations and delivering a comprehensive solution to improve the living standards of the societies where Ingersoll Rand operates.
11. Please describe a CSR activity you have been involved in. Please describe how your company or a company you are closely aware uses the concept of sustainable development to create better products or services.
According to leading research firm Gartner, India’s spending on green technology and sustainability initiatives will double from $35 billion in 2010 to $70 billion in 2015.
At Ingersoll Rand, we aspire growth through Innovation, Emerging Markets and Services. Every new product being developed goes through a process of sustainable product opportunity assessment and product footprint study completed to identify ways that Ingersoll Rand can create new value for customers while reducing our own costs and exposure to environmental and regulatory risk. Nearly all product engineering and research investments contribute to products that provide more energy savings or efficiency for our customers. To achieve Operational Excellence, we focus on reducing waste and increasing productivity and improving safety. We continue to engage our employees to identify additional opportunities above and beyond our typical efforts to drive productivity, reduce our environmental footprint and resource consumption through the application of sustainability principles.
Ingersoll Rand in India is looking at integrating alternate energy sources (solar), along with rain water harvesting, efficient sanitation and low cost housing materials so as to build a sustainable habitat which could be again replicated anywhere in the country. In 2011, Ingersoll Rand introduced the concept of ‘Social Convergence’ for the first time in the industry and the company is now instrumental in bringing together corporate organizations, government bodies and the larger public to take collaborative action towards environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. As part of its ‘Social Convergence’ program, Ingersoll Rand India is working in the areas of Environmental Preservation (waste management, water, energy conservation and preservation of lakes) through a Public–Private Partnership (PPP) approach.
12. Any word of advice for Management Students….
Business leadership is scouting for talent that has multi-disciplinary skills. In today’s knowledge-led economy, it is imperative to go beyond academic excellence and technical/functional knowledge.Management students should also look for soft skills like culture adaptability, strategic acumen, learning agility, communication proficiency, innovation and creativity. A qualification or an academic degree might open a great opportunity but to stay relevant to that field one needs to be able to adapt to business environments in different environment and constantly upgrade one’s learning. This, along with the right attitude will help give your career a positive edge.