A key test for business leaders of the future will be about creating sustainability beyond just their own businesses. Thus, leaders who do not contribute to betterment of the society will be doing a dis-service to themselves, their companies and the society.
By Bimal Rath
Corporations, as a key element of the economic system, can certainly influence and contribute to causes that impact society at large. CSR initiatives are one way of doing that. While there is now a regulatory requirement in India, but several companies have been supporting a broad set of societal initiatives over the years anyway.
A structured CSR initiative in any area, be it education or health for the under-privileged, improving the environment, or any other, helps in bringing a focused approach to the possibility of improvement. Companies also have an opportunity to engage their own employees, and broad base initiatives in partnership with other companies, NGOs or institutions.
Many studies also show that a good CSR approach rubs off the company brand as well in the long run. Research also show that talented employees may chose to work for companies that care for causes beyond just profit making. Companies also have other resources, e.g. understanding of managing large projects, which they could contribute to CSR initiatives.
Several industrial houses have been taking community initiatives over decades. Names like the Tata Group, Mahindra group, Godrej etc come to mind, among others. These organisations appear to have broadened the definition of economic interest – to apply to not just the company but to societies they operate in. While there is a monetary cost of doing this, but clearly the benefits of brand, community support and longer term sustainability outweigh these costs.
At Think Talent, working on leadership development, we believe that a key test for business leaders of the future will be about creating sustainability beyond just their own businesses. Thus, the leaders who do not contribute to betterment of the society will be doing a dis-service to themselves, their companies and the society.