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CSR Redefined with Responsible Growth Initiatives

As presented at the National Seminar sponsored and organised by Chinmaya Mission College – Thrissur       on the 21st of January 2014

RESPONSIBLE GROWTH WITH SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

– Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility of Business, Integrating Economic Growth with Environmental Responsibility and Social Equity.

Abstract:

Globalization has brought economic and cultural interdependence. The world is getting closer creating new opportunities for growth. The growth will have major consequences for both production and consumption – particularly of food, water and energy. There is a shift in the axis of economic powers towards Asia, as the advanced nations are still in the after-shock of recession. India is acknowledged as an emerging nation to drive growth of the world GDP in the years to come.

The millennial generation living in an electronic age have more access to information. They define a good corporate citizen as someone who takes responsibility in effecting change for sustainable growth. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which was a deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision making and honouring the triple bottom-line: People, Planet and Profit is now regarded as an old fashioned and outdated concept, which is criticised for being used only for marketing purposes through hypothetical window dressing.

The major issues faced by society are social inequalities, injustice, corruption, bad governance, uncaring corporate behavior, environmental degradation and climate change etc., which is coupled with the faulty economic growth models. Corporates must assume responsibility for both humans and the environment, while taking business decisions.

CSR was used to manage the businesses and to produce an overall positive impact on society through economic, environmental and social action. The global financial crises have considerably disturbed the CSR departments. The companies are now on the move to shift from CSR to a more encompassing concept of “Responsible Growth”.

Responsible growth is a behaviour which aims in creating a better place to live. A Responsible growth strategy focuses on a shared value for both the company and society. The social media brings the likeminded people together, who have their own version which effects change. The shared value perspective focuses on business strategies and investment that creates value for the company while at the same time solving social and environmental challenges. All the stakeholders of business such as Consumers, Investors and the Companies are in move to promote responsible growth.

As wealth and education are increasing, customers are becoming aware that their own well being is tied to the well being of the environment’s sustainability and societal harmony. If corporate are involved in solving the society’s shared challenges and ensuring sustainable growth, it is important that the public sectors takes the lead and that investors and consumers demand responsible products and services. Responsible Growth is also emerging as a new field in the Management Research.

In India, many firms like ITC, Hindustan Unilever, TATA etc., have taken the initiatives of Responsible Growth practices that were already practising CSR for decades and have met with varying needs of the society. ITC is committed in establishing competitive and sustainable value chains, linked to its businesses which create sustainable livelihoods, especially amongst the poor in rural India. The three global environmental distinctions of ITC of being “Water positive”, Carbon positive” and “Solid waste recycling positive” is also considered as a Responsible growth Strategy for sustainable development. Hindustan Unileaver has operated in India for 78 years. They are successful in reinforcing their commitment to consumers through their key goals of the “Unilever Sustainable Living Plan”. Companies in India must look into solving genuine problems and not those artificially created hypothetical problems in the name of exposing their corporate social responsibility. It is not enough to create value for the products but the values should be created in the lives of the people and the society at a large.

Companies are facing growing pressure to devise and communicate clear policies on their marketing activities that enables customers to become – educated customers, better informed citizens and are therefore better able to make healthy lifestyle choices. Along with the positive benefits that technology can offer consumers, there is also an exposure to potentially harmful and irresponsible digital contents.

Responsible Growth concerns more than economies, social development, and environmental protection. It is an integrated approach, built on the moral imperatives of protecting our planet and making it safe, secure, and prosperous for all.

The present study is a sincere effort to focuses on the Responsible Growth initiatives in the field of Agriculture, Banking, Aviation, Tourism, Marketing and Communication. This also highlights that the Consumers must assume greater responsibility and be given better opportunity for demonstrating social responsibility through their choice of consumer goods. As the global population is approaching 7 billion, today’s society is consuming resources at a greater rate than the earth’s ability to replenish them. As companies are increasingly under the limelight of accountability, this study will show how pursuing values of self-regulation, environmentalism, or fair labour can improve the bottom line — public image, employee satisfaction , access to industry and societal impacts.

Key words: Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable development, Responsible growth, Responsible Consumer Behaviour, Corporate Citizenship Behaviour.

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