“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”
FSG Consulting once said, “What is the role and responsibility of your business in a time of Chaos and Crisis?” – will be the call of the hour. In the last couple of months, time has changed tremendously. Every hour is posing a difficult challenge to society. Updates are continuously crossing limits of itself every day. Everyone, everything is locked down, fearing the unseen. This crisis has crossed all the limits. The uniqueness of the situation is that we are now united against the unseen – to control, to resist, to defeat. Sharing experiences about new inventions, discoveries help us to unitedly fight against the pandemic. Social distancing and work from home, are buzzwords now. It is not that a few people are allowed to work from home, it’s the entire workforce thatis engaged in this new normal.
Under Schedule VII, of section 135, of Companies Act, every corporate is mandated to spend 2% of the net profit under activities mentioned in the aforesaid section. As per the mandate, companies with a net profit of ₹5 crores or a net worth of ₹500 crores or a turnover of ₹1000 crores have to spend 2% of the average net profits of the last three years to corporate social responsibility.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs recently declared that every spending on health care for this COVID 19 pandemic will be treated as CSR spending. Central Government created a fund named as PM Cares for fighting against the pandemic by arranging all-around support and India Inc. have contributed thousands of crores to support the initiative.
The challenges posed by COVID 19 to the industries, left no other way than to find out innovative ways to tackle the whole process. Thus finding out the innovative solution provides an opportunity to redesign the business processes. CSR does help the society in different manners including all-round development of society itself, internal and external stakeholder management, sustainable supply chain management, and all the aspects of human rights. United Nations earlier declared a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and CSR forms a part of it. In this situation, it can be said that fighting the COVID 19 is a part of maintaining sustainability to the mother earth.
Transmission in CSR Activities
We all are aware of the proverb – “Charity Begins At Home”. It implies that everything should be done to start from the base. For corporate houses, it is about taking care of their employees. The contractual and daily workers are at the bullseye now and taking care of them regarding continuing some part of their wage or simple confirmation that they won’t lose their jobs even in lockdown, will do magic. According to Businessline,Tata Group has promised to all its daily wage earners, a full monthly wage for March and April.
Not only during this pandemic but during the normal time also, corporates will need to focus on sanitization, preventive health checkups for all employees, comprehensive medical facilities continuously without not depending more on one-time donations to various funds. Corporates need to work collaboratively with Government so that they can reach the base of the pyramid to help and extend their CSR Activities.
Corporates are in many senses working for the improvement of social life, alleviating poverty, public health from the very beginning and these are the basic CSR activities every company performs. But during this time of pandemic companies have to pose strategically to improve the scenario. Every company has bright minds, so doing brainstorming sessions will allow innovative ideas to follow.
Therefore, a collaborative work environment should be taken into account to promote implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of converged organizational culture. CSR activities should not be taken as granted by the corporations. CSR can be a major activity during this kind of pandemics or natural disasters. With this opportunity, another question arises as to how efficiently the CSR fund can be utilized.
As CSR funds are kept separate from the Net profit that means the company is somehow depriving the shareholders of their rights. So, every coin should be counted. So before release funding, every corporate should assess the viability. Third-party assessment can be done to ensure an effective result, along with peer reviewing and employee involvement. The company should take a systematic approach, by planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the release of CSR Funds.
During pandemics, the poor and weak are badly hit. They are the most vulnerable section of society as they don’t have enough support to stand up again. Companies need to be more sensitive towards them in building their resilience. Expenditures should be poised evenly so that CSR activities can help these people to face the situation again. This also helps corporates to present their brand well to society.
CSR’s Contribution to R&D
CSR funding can also be shared through Research and Development mode. There may be a common research program through which the “zoonoses”, that is the diseases that spread from animal to human can be stopped or in case of spreads like COVID 19, further medical treatment-related research can be obtained. For this, all medical practitioners to be pulled over under a common umbrella and “One Health, One Goal” program may be launched where all experts will work under a common goal under funding from CSR activities. The results of the research should not be owned by anyone company, rather should be distributed for the betterment of humankind.
The protection of the ecosystem will also be a good opportunity to distribute CSR funds. Destruction of natural resources poses problems on nature which is getting worse everyday. The Climate Change Summits are showing paths but industries that are polluting a whole should take necessary action to stop that. Land uses are changing completely which poses a threat to agricultural production. These disruptive changes are posing threats to society as a whole. So, CSR activities to be aimed at minimizing these disruptions.
Holistic actions are needed for a safer future for business houses. The holistic developments include sustainable business practices by effective and efficient resource allocation, future strategy building by keeping the fact in mind disruptions can occur at any time without any precaution. The organization structure and culture should be flexible enough to accept any changes. CSR activities should aim at providing branding support for the companies.
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