The buzz around the commitment of Corporate India towards its social responsibility has once again gained momentum ever since Azim Premji has announced the formation of an endowment trust with a billion dollar corpus to fund his philanthropic activities and CSR initiatives. While the move has raised many eyebrows, it has once again re-iterated the fact that the Indian economy has bounced back with not only increased budgets to support such initiatives but also innovative ways to give back to the society. Various organizations have committed themselves to causes such as Standard Chartered Bank’s global community program ‘Seeing is Believing’ to raise funds to cure avoidable blindness (cataract); American Express’ ‘Give2Gether’ program that reinforces the fact that when employees give to their favourite charities, American Express donates too and its Global Volunteer Action Fund that brings together the many volunteer efforts of the company into one cohesive program and makes it easier for employees to participate in volunteer opportunities throughout the year in their local communities; Intel India’s ‘Design for Environment’ to support green initiatives, et al.
Diwali too has turned out to be an opportune moment for Corporate India to give back to the society. Call it CSR or a true reflection of the ideologies of the organization, organizations are doing away with giving fancy and expensive gifts this Diwali and turning to the underprivileged sections of the society, either through NGOs or Charitable Trusts, giving an altogether new meaning to this festival by connecting with them through innovative means. Where on one hand companies are buying hand-crafted goods such as candles, diyas, cards, et al, prepared by the not-so-privileged members of the society as gifting items for Diwali, a few others are sponsoring Diwali nights at NGOs and inviting their important clients to spend an evening with the under-privileged. Exon Solutions for instance, has done away with gifting to business associates this diwali, but will send those gifts on behalf of their business associates to some special kids in Deepashram - A Missionaries of Charities initiative. Encouraging employees to contribute to NGOs and creating awareness about wastage of money on extravagant celebrations is another practice that companies are adopting this Diwali.
People Matter’s Take: Corporate India has seemingly moved away from the clichés of its CSR activities. Committing to causes and standing by them year after year will not only strengthen the organization’s imagery, but will also instill the faith in its employees and their commitment toward the particular causes.