Panel Discussion: CSR is it a socially responsible INVESTMENT?

The Net impact club organised an engaging and thought provoking discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility, the need for CSR ,different models and issues with getting share holder buy-in, trends in India and finally questioning whether it truly  is  one of ‘most responsible ‘ of actions.
         Mr Siva Kumar, from ITC talked about 4 levels/ladders of social responsibility ranging from a Purist approach of  being solely profit oriented  , progressing to compliance , transparency and to finally proactively creating business models that are socially responsible.

       Mr P.S Narayan from Wipro shed light into why Wipro adopts the ‘sustainability ‘ approach and not CSR  approach. He spoke about various social initiatives by Wipro especially in the education sector. Wipro did not prefer a  check-book approach to CSR but rather preferred a well thought out execution for its sustainability initiatives.

·         Ms Janet Geddes from KPMG’s  International Development Services practice, shed light on recent trends in the Indian CSR space  and analysed various push and pull factors responsible for companies adopting CSR initiatives. KPMG’s IDS practice focuses on providing consulting services in the area of CSR through conducting due diligence, developing CSR Strategy and implementation plan, and organizational development. She concluded by saying that for most Indian companies the most common incentive to adopt CSR was impact on the bottom line.

·         Mr Unmesh Brahme, Net Impact India Board member spoke of the various  changes in the mindset  and approach of companies towards CSR that was required to make their efforts more impactful. His talk was open ended leaving the students to think about what is  wrong with current Communications/PR oriented CSR.

The final speaker was Professor Mudit Kapoor, ISB who challenged the belief of CSR being ‘responsible’ 
without share holder buy-in. His argument was that at an individual level one is free to choose how to spend
on social initiatives but a corporate’s main responsibility is MAKING PROFIT for the share holders .He 
reinforced the spirit of capitalism saying that a profit motive is not evil.
The session ended with an engaging Q& A discussion amongst the students and panelists.

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