5 Reasons Why Corporate Executives Must Up their 'Social' Quotient

Waking up to the values of justice and equity inherent in us makes us a better version of ourselves

By Anu Prasad


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At a time in our society when "social' has come to be associated with increasing (or decreasing, as the case may be) one's presence on a growing number of social media and networking platforms, there's one idea of being social whose time has really come: of Corporate India, specifically, the individuals that make up our corporations, making a sincere effort to understand and address the diverse social problems ailing our country. Why you may ask? Here are five reasons, to start with:

Because We Have a Long Way to go to Become a Better Society

Despite all the efforts being made to decrease poverty and improve the quality of life of our people, huge disparities persist within our society, stifling real progress. According to the latest Oxfam report, India's top 1per cent now owns a whopping 73per cent of the nation's wealth, up from 58per cent in the previous report. India ranks 130 out of the 189 countries in the human development ranking, according to UNDP. And we have just dropped seven places to a lowest-ever 140th in the World Happiness Report. Clearly, we are a long way from the shining India of our collective dreams. Even if we don't confront this "other' India within the confines of our cabins and cubicles, and within the secure spaces of our gated communities, this is a reality that we cannot deny any longer.

Because it's Everyone's Job to do

Given the complexity and the magnitude of the problems we are now facing on the social development front, it is now quite clear that we need every hand, every skill and every bit of innovativeness that we can bring in individually and collectively to make a dent in our development goals.

Building a better society is not just the government's job or that of NGOs, activists and philanthropists. As citizens of this nation, we often forget that the rights and privileges we enjoy come with responsibilities, towards our fellow citizens and our nation, that doesn't stop at paying our taxes or casting our votes. A sound democracy is a constant work-in-progress that requires every individual to do their bit towards demanding and ensuring effective governance across all levels. Even as we obsess with our targets and P&Ls, let's also commit ourselves to see improvements in some of the indicators mentioned above.

Because we Can Make our Decisions Count

India has had mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by way of the Companies Act, 2013. This alone would have released funds to the tune of around INR 50,000 crore into the social sector by March 31, 2019. Money that can create great impact provided it is backed with a deep understanding of the cause being supported and a real intent to change things for the better. Individuals who decide how these funds are used or have influence over the decision-making process, thus, have an opportunity to do good by their companies' CSR funds – ensuring that the CSR effort goes beyond merely checking a compliance box.

Because it Makes us Better Leaders

Waking up to the values of justice and equity inherent in us makes us a better version of ourselves. It helps us become more empathetic and more effective leaders at the workplace, inspiring a culture of compassion and social responsibility. Which, as enough studies have established by now, translates into better employee engagement and retention, and improved the perception of the organization among stakeholders.

Because we Owe it to Our Kids

Lastly, we owe it to our children to leave them a better world. By refusing to acknowledge and act upon the consequences of our actions and choices, our generation is set to leave behind a legacy of climate change, polluted air and water, anxiety, violence and strife for our future generations. Surely that's reason enough to start thinking and acting more "socially'?

Anu Prasad

Founder and Director at India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS)

Anu Prasad is founder-director at India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS), a non-profit that seeks to strengthen leadership in the social sector. Prior to setting up ILSS in 2017, Anu was the founding Deputy Dean of the prestigious Young India Fellowship and a founding member of Ashoka University, India’s first liberal arts university. Before joining the social sector, Anu held leadership roles at multinational companies such as American Express and TNT.


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