by Susir Kumar,
Chief Executive Officer, Serco Global Services and Executive member, Serco Foundation
Corporate Responsibility is fundamental to an organisation’s success. This is not a tick-box exercise but a significant factor and continued commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and as well as of the local community and society at large.The foremost reason corporate responsibility is of such importance is because we can see the effects on a daily basis. It encompasses some of the most important aspects of our long-term sustainability: health and safety, the environment, people and communities.
Over the last few years, there has been a trend towards compartmentalizing CSR and turning it into a specialized activity. It is intrinsic to all parts of a business, and hence is reflected in the actions of a company, in all aspects such as HR, Corporate Governance and Management etc. However, the manifestation of a company’s CSR activities and commitments could take myriad forms. Till this day, it has manifested into different forms ranging from corporate philanthropy, internal organizational and educational initiatives, social and environmental reporting, improving the quality of life of differently-abled people, women empowerment, environmental sustainability, talent sustainability, community investment, supporting causes or a combination of several of these. Some widespread examples include supporting a NGO by propagating their cause, programs to support local communities, investment in clean technology.
CSR is a corporate self-regulation, integrated into a business model and functions as a built-in mechanism. It is prudent for companies to recognize and associate with CSR assignments that create shared value, one that drives business growth, aids in the employee alignment and in turn improves the living conditions of the society. Serco has supported several local causes across the world within the communities where we work. To ensure the continuance of good work we have created the Serco Foundation, an independent charitable organisation, with the goal of maximizing our global impact in addressing varied social issues.
Some of our initiatives at the Community level include promoting education and providing nutrition, especially in rural areas. We also work towards basic housing for people in rural areas. Serco regularly organises various internal events and activities with the sole purpose of collecting funds that are used to procure essential merchandise required by various NGOs to support their causes. We often organise fun filled activities in our office premises for children from the NGO’s that we support.
Health, environment and child welfare are some of the focus areas for Serco. We recently conducted an Aids Awareness workshop for our employees. Dr. Mamta Manglani from Sion hospital, Mumbai was invited to conduct the workshop that not only covered the primary facts about AIDS, but also important and unfamiliar information like symptoms, prevention and how to help the infected. In a similar way, this year, Serco Global Services partnered with the NGO Swiss Emmaus in an effort to raise awareness about Leprosy and help patients suffering from the disease. As part of this initiative, in the month of September, awareness campaigns were organized successfully across Serco Global Services’ officesfor all our employees.
We have taken a strong stand against leprosy and are working very closely with Swiss Emmaus to raise awareness about the disease as well as help those suffering from it. Swiss Emmaus Leprosy Relief Work- India has been working with leprosy patients for the past 50 years. They are involved with improving the lives of people stricken with leprosy as well as tuberculosis and other such diseases resulting from poverty and poor medical conditions.They have developed various social and medical rehabilitation centres across Indian states to increase awareness and work with patients suffering from these diseases.
The following diagram shows how we, at Serco Global Services view Corporate Social Responsibility and the approach that we have adopted to work towards it.
In the context of the current Companies Bill, it stipulates guidelines on mandatory spend for social welfare activities. Some of the other points that have been addressed include an emphasis on governance, disclosure, higher transparency, increased accountability at the board level and representation of women on government boards. Currently a wait and watch scenario, the industry would await the nuances of the new legislation, the way it takes shape and how this would transform the corporate landscape in India. This could also pave the way for CSR consultancies as organizations learn to navigate their way through the legislations and evolve skill sets that will be sought to address CSR initiatives.
In conclusion, there doesn’t exist a global standardization yet of CSR practices. At its core, it is an ideology of shared growth, one that would perhaps require a multi-disciplinary approach to teach, train and implement it in its entirety.