Organisations can use Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in many ways, including in the form of donations to charities, employee volunteering, environmentally conscious production processes, ethical labour practices, and more. CSR efforts send a message that the organisation recognises how it can help society and is acting upon that acknowledgment. Using CSR, companies not only hire, motivate and train more engaged employees, there are other benefits too from a robust programme in this field.
In the next five years, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce according to one study, and according to CONE Communications’ 2016 report, two-thirds of this generation of workers won’t take a job at a company that doesn’t have strong social responsibility practices. By being and showing that they care for the people and society that they operate in, companies may be more engaged—and relevant—employers for this important audience.
Organisations can use Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in many ways, including in the form of donations to charities, employee volunteering, environmentally conscious production processes, ethical labour practices, and more. CSR efforts send a message that the organisation recognises it can help society and is acting upon that acknowledgment. Using CSR, companies not only hire, motivate and train more engaged employees, there are other benefits too from a robust programme in this field.
A strong CSR programme also builds strong connects with customers, whether they are individual consumers or large industrial enterprises. For example, two-thirds of participants according to a Nielsen survey stated they would be willing to pay more for products and services from socially responsible companies. This survey also showed that when examining the population of participants willing to pay more, 56% said “a brand being known for its social value” was a top purchase driver, while another reason “a brand with community commitment,” was important to 53% of those will to pay a premium.
Growing value of CSR
For employees, customers, partners and other members of our business ecosystem, there is a rapidly growing value being attached to the quality of businesses they work with. For example, consultancy firm FleishmanHillard Fishburn’s 2019 Authenticity Gap study into consumer attitudes towards CSR, reveals that 59% of consumers said they expect companies to take a stand on key issues such as climate change and environmental impact of their activities.
Away from the fluffy feel-good reasons to invest and undertake company-wide CSR programmes, there are business reasons too for companies to prioritise these initiatives. Historically, companies ranging from General Mills, to Pepsi have used CSR to build more sustainable businesses, not only more profitable ones. For example, companies such as Pepsi have been able to use more water-conscious business practices to appear more concerned about the regions in which their factories operate. At a time when governments, business partners and consumers are getting increasingly concerned, CSR has become a strategic tool to identify and mainstream sustainable business practices.
“We want to build Allcargo to be not just a leader in its business, but also a leading sustainable and ethical logistics company too,” says Adarsh Hegde, Joint Managing Director, Allcargo Logistics. “To be both a fast-growing and well-regarded business, we are committed to focusing on, sticking to and exceeding our CSR goals,” he elaborates.
A need-to-do business imperative
Not just as a good-to-do, but as a need-to-do business strategy, CSR is rapidly coming of age, worldwide and in India. For example, Mahindra and Mahindra’s Nanhi Kali is one of the pioneers when it comes to CSR projects in India. The World Bank’s 2018 report states that limited educational opportunities for girls and barriers to complete 12 years of education, cost countries between USD 15 trillion and USD 30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings. Project Nanhi Kali educates girls which not only empowers them but also helps their families come out of poverty.
Indian corporates such as Bajaj Electricals are making their CSR rupees go towards issues that find strong resonance with both their employees and customers. The firm’s CSR arm planted 10,000 mangroves by partnering with NGO, United Way Mumbai (UWM) to create awareness on the importance of mangroves among the youth. Mumbai incurred a loss of INR 14,000 crore due to floods from 2005 to 2015 according to a study conducted by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and KPMG. To try to help India’s commercial capital and its surroundings recover—and stave off the odds of another calamitous episodes—the company’s CSR unit identified that the depleting mangrove cover is one of the biggest reasons for flooding, and jumped in to try and help.
The impact of being a good corporate citizen is perhaps best embodied by India’s Tata Group, which is not just the country’s most valued company, but a conglomerate that houses massive businesses in sectors ranging from salt to software. In addition, the Tata brand has come to be revered for its proactive approach to CSR that even today sets its brand value and ethos apart.
The Allcargo promise
At Allcargo Logistics, we care deeply about not just how well we run our business, but about how sustainably it operates. We recognise that investing in CSR helps build more engaged employees, customers and a broader constellation of business partners. Spearheaded by Mrs. Arathi Shetty, Non-Executive Director, Allcargo Logistics, the Avashya Foundation which is Allcargo’s CSR arm carries out social welfare initiatives in six areas that include Health, Education, Environment, Women Empowerment, Sports and Disaster Relief.
Through Allcare, Allcargo’s CSR volunteering programme, employees can explore a number of volunteering opportunities in sectors like Health, Education and Environment. These include spending time with patients suffering from cancer, counselling, distributing medicines in hospitals, tree plantation, mentoring students in spoken English, career guidance and motivation, participating in clean-up drives and many more. The management and senior leadership lead by example, by not just participating and motivating their team members, but also dedicatedly supporting the programme and expanding its reach.
For employees keen to volunteer for CSR activities and do their bit for society, Avashya Foundation has NGO partners and volunteering is planned and implemented in collaboration with them. Employees are given a briefing, a schedule is planned and shared, after which they can register for activities in which they are interested. The hours spent volunteering are counted as part of the employees’ work hours and employees are encouraged to volunteer for a minimum of 8 hours (one full working day) in the year.
Already, Allcare volunteers have visited Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL) Ashram, a home for destitute and homeless individuals, participated in the Tata Marathon, distributed study material to school children in Mundra and signed up for mentoring young children.
It’s important that organisations encourage their employees to champion their CSR efforts because it can significantly amplify the impact and widen the reach of these activities. Employees who volunteer for CSR not only experience the sheer joy of giving but also come back more sensitive and perceptive to the problems of others. The more that businesses and people who help run them take on the cause of making the world a better place, the bigger difference it will make in the journey towards a happier tomorrow. After all, every helping hand counts!