CRY’s 3rd Corporate Responsibility Summit brings further insights into long term Sustainability


Global experts and Industry honchos discussed, debated and deliberated on the key challenges faced by CSR practitioners and the impact of CSR strategies in brand building and long term sustainability at the CRY Corporate Responsibility Summit held in Mumbai on 12 December 2013. The highlight of this 3rd year of the summit, held at Palladium Hotel, was the Master Class by the global authority on corporate responsibility - Mr. John Elkington and domain experts from different sectors.

The summit this year majorly focussed on providing in depth learning on creation of CSR programmes that are effective, taking into account diverse aspects of business imperatives, stakeholder engagement, impact on brand and long term sustainability. To this end, uniquely designed “Master Classes” and live case studies were conducted by experts to ensure adoption of global best practices by corporations.  The working sessions provided participants with hands on understanding on creating successful programmes, tackling prime challenges in implementation and on worldwide trends that will impact Indian companies going forward.

The summit witnessed distinguished speakers from varied sectors speak on various aspects of Corporate Responsibility and sustainability in sessions spread across the day. Prominent names included Dr. Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group, Mr. Prasad Menon, Chairman, Tata Consulting Engineers Limited, Ms. Srimati Shivashankar, Associate VP-HR, Diversity and Sustainability, HCL Technologies, Mr. Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Futurebrands Ltd., Mr. Sameer Satpathy, Executive VP and Business Head, Marico Industries Ltd., Mr. Subhash Kamath, CEO and Managing Partner, BBH, Mr Neeraj Roy, Managing Director Hungama digital Media Ltd., Mr. Arvinder Gujral, Head Business Development – India and South East Asia at Twitter, Mr. Sujith Narayanan, Industry Head, Financial Services, Google, amongst others.

The summit kick-started with a dialogue on corporate responsibility in India and implications of the Companies Bill. Emphasizing on the Indian CSR scenario, Mr. John Elkington, Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans and Co-Founder of sustainability said, “The best corporate responsibility programs have always been voluntary, rather than forced by governments—an approach which often encourages a defensive, minimalist response from most business leaders. But now the Act exists, business should use the stimulus to jump their thinking to new levels. I think India Inc has an extraordinary opportunity here to leapfrog other countries in this field.”

Mr. Prasad Menon, Chairman, Tata Consulting Engineers Limited added, “The Companies Bill must not be viewed as a regulation or an imposition but as an opportunity for corporations to facilitate a significant change.  If large conglomerates get together and identify key issues which they can impact by collective efforts, it is very likely that many other organizations will follow suit.” He emphasized on the importance of community engagement by quoting Mr. Jamshed Ji Tata, “In a free enterprise, community is not just a stakeholder but the very reason for existence for a corporate”. 

Resonating these views Dr. Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group said, “We have gradually moved from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism, moving away from the traditional notion that Business of business is to do business. We will witness a large number of companies slowly drifting from conventional strategies thus broadening the scope of CSR”. 

The opening session was followed by a one of its kind Master Class spearheaded by Mr. John Elkington and Ms. Srimati Shivashankar, Associate VP-HR, Diversity and Sustainability, HCL Technologies. The session worked on live case studies to enable practical application of concepts and strategies learnt.

Strengthening brand equity and consumer loyalty through CSR was discussed in the second master class which was facilitated by marketing stalwart and social commentator Mr. Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Futurebrands Ltd.

Elaborating the importance of amalgamating brand and social causes, Mr. Santosh Desai said, “Consumers of today are evolved and scrutinise brands all the more. For brands to demand loyalty they must be inspiring. For a consumer, the idea of the brand needs to get redefined not as a set of benefits describing a product or a service but as an interconnected system that emanates for an idea, a belief system. The key to bridging the gap between commercial and social is to define the difference the brand makes to people and not consumers.  Being a Brand-hearted rather than a Brand faced corporation is the key.”

In an era where digital media influences major strategies of many corporations, a discussion on extensive use of digital media to drive CSR programmes formed the basis of another session with experienced panellists like Mr. Neeraj Roy, Managing Director Hungama Digital Media Ltd., Mr. Arvinder Gujral, Head Business Development – India and South East Asia at Twitter, Mr. Sujith Narayanan, Industry Head, Financial Services, Google and Mr. Vivek Bharagava, Managing Director iprospectCommunicate2. 

CRY also launched the CRY-White Kettle Consulting Child Rights Council. This is a novel initiative that aims to establish industry benchmarks on sensitivity to children’s rights in the course of doing business. The council includes CRY, White Kettle Consulting, John Elkington, Hindustan times Media Ltd. and Mr. KK Upadhyay from FICCI Aditya Birla CSR Centre for Excellence.

The council will work with a select few CEOs of leading companies to show case business practices that are sensitive to children. The outcomes of the council’s work will be published periodically and disseminated through the media and FICCI.  The concluding panel of the day was on the council; panelists included Mr. John Elkington, Mr Shantanu Bhanja, Business Head Ht media Ltd, Rama Iyer founder, White Kettle Consulting and Puja Marwaha, CEO CRY.

Emphasizing on the need for companies to support and respect child rights, Ms. Puja Marwaha, CEO, CRY- Child Rights and You said, “Any corporate strategy that focuses on children will by default be one that is sustainable, because when you focus on children’s rights, you invest in building a better future for them . You have no choice but to ensure that you leave the planet cleaner, safer and more nurturing for children. The council is an attempt to give children’s rights priority in a manner that is also good for business in the long run.”

CRY also honoured Indian companies who have ensured that their business policies and practices include children as integral stakeholders. This year the prestigious CRY Child Rights Champion Award was presented to DABUR and HCL for Employee Engagement. The award jury comprised of eminent personalities representing the government, civil society and the corporate sector.

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