National CSR Conclave – Anil Sardana

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[National CSR Conclave] Anil Sardana, MD, TATA Power: “We need a CSR effectiveness Index”

It is Year 3 of CSR in India and the spending data highlights that there has been over 75% compliance from companies on the 2% CSR, resulting in an outlay of roughly 6337 crores in CSR spending in the FY2014-15.

The National CSR conclave 2016, a first of its kind practitioner meet organized by BSE, IICA and Sattva brought together over 400 CSR heads, non-profit leaders, business heads, and the social impact ecosystem to discuss learnings, challenges and collectively chart the course for effective CSR in India. In a plenary panel, whose theme was, “How can we make implementation more effective?”, Anil Sardana, MD & CEO, TATA Power, one of the plenary panelists, touched upon what makes for effective CSR

(Watch at time 35 minutes)

Key points from Anil Sardana’s talk

  • At TATA Sons, CSR is an integral part of the way of doing business
  • 66% of the profit YOY goes back to Tata Trust which is then invested in social projects
  • ‘The work that we do ultimately goes back to the community who are our primary stakeholders’

Companies need to earn the right to co-exist with the community

  • Philosophy of Tata Power is when we establish projects, new factories or any other initiative, we are disturbing the social fabric of the people living there. The approach to CSR is that we have to earn the right to co – exist with a community that is already residing in a particular area
  • CSR is ingrained in the culture of working – right from site allocation to operations thereafter

80-20 paradigm of CSR: Owned and led by the community

  • Infrastructure is the easiest pressure upon the companies to contribute to the local ecosystem, but we look at “80:20 paradigm of CSR” – 80% is the mandated corporate program that is sustainable which is run and owned by the community, only 20% will be spent by the local teams on incidental activities.
  • This is seed funding for any program that the community takes up and runs post 4 years of CSR support
  • There are several examples of our programmes where the communities have taken over and become owners of the programmes – this is essential for long-term sustainability and impact. Eg: dairy ecosystem taken on by youth, BPOs run by illiterate people in Kapoli, Maharashtra.

Can business and CSR co-exist?

  • The case of TATA Power Enerji Club project: There was rampant stealing of power a few years ago and TATA Power was losing business. We also were actively working on education in low-income communities at the same time. We decided to tackle the challenge by training young minds. Children took up the accountability of reading the electrical meter in their homes and calculating the real power consumed, and apprising their parents of faulty meters. Our losses in Delhi is now 8.8% – comparable to regular benchmarks anywhere else, sustainable change brought about by students. This was a case where business and CSR came together to create equal value to all stakeholders
  • The delivery systems of every business project should do a socio-economic check before implementation.
  • Tata Power has a Sustainability advisory council that has senior NGO heads. The company takes business project investment proposals to this council for advice on different practices of integrating the social fabric within the business.

Government should create an effectiveness Index for CSR

  • We need to have an effectiveness index which can measure the community engagement value
  • We don’t have to count – 7000 crores of spending,as much as we have to count – where is the bang for the buck?
  • At TATA, we are actively working on a community engagement index that characterizes the efficacy of our activities and programs in the communities

Organized by BSEIndian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and Sattva, the National CSR Conclave is an annual practitioner meet bringing together the CSR and social ecosystem. The inaugural edition on June 22, 2016 brought 400+ CSR heads, non-profit leaders, business heads, and the social impact ecosystem to discuss learnings, challenges and collectively chart the course for effective CSR in India.

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