CSR Budgets Must Create Social, Environmental and Business Value: Dr V.K. Saraswat, NITI Aayog Member

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New Delhi/Noida: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Budgets must create social, environmental and business value, said Dr V. K. Saraswat, Hon’ble  Member, NITI Aayog while speaking during National CSR Network virtual roundtable on “CSR Impact Assessment: What and How”.

In his address as the Chief Guest, Dr V. K. Saraswat emphasised Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are at the front and centre of CSR trends in 2021. He highlighted that there is an increasing shift from CSR, from donation, philanthropy and volunteerism to Corporate Shared Value (CSV) with a focus on profit creation, stakeholder alignment and competitive differentiation. He further stated that CSR and sustainability imperatives must integrate and align across all business functions and areas. He pointed out that year-on-year data shows that more companies have been concerned about business sustainability and have committed diligent efforts in implementing CSR practices.

Mentioning that the CSR activities should promote strategic technology and create value, Dr V. K. Saraswat also mentioned some of the likely top strategic technology trends for 2022 which are data fabric, composable applications, distributed enterprise, cybersecurity mesh, decision intelligence, total experience, privacy-enhancing computation, hyper-automation, autonomic systems, cloud-native platforms, AI engineering and Generative AI.  He further mentioned that the benefits of CSR include an increase in customer retention, winning new businesses and enhanced relationships with stakeholders.

Providing the CEO’s perspective, Navneet Saluja, Managing Director, GSK Asia Ltd. in his keynote address emphasised that “CSR goals should be aligned with the purpose of the organization to get desired and impactful outcome. It is vital for the companies to measure the actual accomplishment of their CSR goals and assess the impact of their programmes. Impact assessment has become a medium through which organisations can communicate to their key stakeholders—their implementation partners, shareholders, and the board of directors, about the effect of initiatives shared with the beneficiaries.”

Highlighting the role of CSR and its strategic impact, P. Dwarakanath, Chairman, Advisory Council, National CSR Network said “Companies should not consider CSR execution-only as a compliance process but it should be considered as a process to create meaningful social development and generate social good for the economy. CSR goals by the companies should focus to achieve a positive impact on society as a whole while maximising the creation of shared value for the owners of the business, its employees, shareholders and stakeholders.” He concluded by stating that, “Customisation and innovation of CSR programmes is the need of the hour.”

Navin Bhatia, Managing Director, Navkar Skills presented introductory remarks and Meena Raghunathan, Chairperson, Core Group on Membership, National CSR Network moderated the roundtable discussion.

National CSR Network virtual roundtable on “CSR Impact Assessment: What and How” aimed to identify the needs of impact assessment, prioritise them, map out current strategies and evaluate their effectiveness, and, finally, jointly develop new creative approaches to addressing these needs.