Impacting societies in a meaningful way

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If you are in any way associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR), it won’t be surprising to know that all your resources and time are currently devoted to providing immediate succor to those impacted by the pandemic. In a healthcare crisis of this magnitude, even if every organisation puts in all their CSR funds for Covid relief, there will still be lots more to be done. And you will always have the feeling that perhaps you have not done enough. You are not alone.

As human beings, it is but natural for mankind to extend support to those in pain. Parents being around for their children. Siblings reaching out to family members. Friends stepping in. Mentors and coaches lending that very much needed listening ear and providing solace.

No one has ever become poor by giving – The Diary of Anne Frank (1952)

If anything, giving and being compassionate towards others, can also be a big lever to improve efficiency and productivity levels in an organisation. In fact, organisations that have a culture that encourages corporate giving and values its communities, are known to be preferred place of work by the millennials and the Gen-Z.

However, a crisis as devastating as this pandemic calls for action on ground. Having the right values in sync obviously help in rolling out relief measures at the fastest time possible. The question is, where and how does one begin…It is every easy to get overwhelmed on hearing the pain and misery that people are going through in this time. There is no escaping the fact that the suffering is all consuming and all around.

A well-organised CSR activity needs to be strategic and impactful. Below, I have listed a few steps for the same.

  • Beginning with the basics, gather your thoughts on the current resources that you have – both in terms of financials and manpower.
  • Evaluate your current ongoing commitments – reassess them in terms of what can be temporarily discontinued (if they have to) and the ones which have to be completed.
  • Align with the leadership and management on a strategic approach, which could be either of these – immediate, short term or long term.
  • As per the approach aligned, go back to reassessing the resources available.
  • Identify key geographies to work in – organisations do prioritise working with communities around their manufacturing plants or offices. This may seem to be the right approach for many. However, do remember, that this approach can also lead to smaller and far away situated communities being neglected and losing out on help.
  • Dip into your current list of implementation partners to kick start relief measures at the earliest. This is critical. Choosing a new implementation partner, going through required due diligences, making agreements, etc., are all time-consuming activities.
  • Work internally to mobilise employee volunteerism. Corporates are sensitive to that fact that they cannot expose employees to the pandemic. But there is so much one can do virtually. For instance, the education sector has been impacted a lot with school going children bearing the brunt of missing out on physical interaction with teachers and peers. Employees can find multiple avenues to create a difference in the lives of these children by structuring innovative ways of engaging the young fertile minds.
  • Build in metrics for long term projects so that one can actually measure how the needle has moved. The pandemic is the time to look at holistic solutions to the problem at hand and work towards a sustainable plan to bring about long-lasting change. Supporting the expansion of healthcare infrastructure in far away villages and districts is a great example of how organisations can make a difference.

 “At the end it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” Denzel Washington.

This is the time when the country needs all hands-on deck.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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