I have this reservation about the very term “Corporate Social Responsibility”. It is so cold. So detached. So plastic. What does it mean? Simply, that corporate entities have a responsibility towards the society in which they operate and thrive? That corporates are responsible and should act to preserve the domain by acting like socially conscious citizens? That corporates should do their bit for the betterment of society? There is no binding. No set agenda either. Just terms – platitudes, mouthfuls that can be and are, thrown about with ceaseless abandon. Terms that lack both the bark and the bite. Terms that remain, at the end of the day, just that – mere terms.
Perhaps. But is it enough? Not by any stretch of the wildest imagination. For, by restricting the definition to “corporate” we are in effect narrowing down its perspective. For, individuals, who constitute the corporate have no responsibility in this scheme of things. As long as the corporate is seen to be doing its bit (and we all know that corporate by and large do only the bit, and no more) the individuals can go scot free.
That is why, I personally feel that a time has come to redraft the very coinage – change the name to ISR – individual social responsibility. Let every man and entity stand up and be counted. The idea is not to project one as a “greener than thou” being. The idea is to strive for a future world order where being Eco friendly, as a term, becomes redundant. The idea is to work for a future world order where everything will be, naturally in tandem with nature.
Yes I am talking of a time in the future when man’s every action will have in its core, green concerns. I am talking of a time in the future, when being green will be the practice, rather than being the exception – when being Eco friendly will be embraced out of practice rather than out of compulsion.
Today, green is the flavor of the month. Its hip and happening to be “green” or even to be perceived as green. In Japan they are selling green beer. A beer that is being sipped by concerned businessmen in the air conditioned comfort of their pubs and other watering holes. Pubs that are quietly drilling holes in the ozone layer by the CFC in the refrigeration systems, by the CO2 being emitted by the power plants that supply the electricity for running the air conditioners. It is this hypocrisy that I want to raise my voice against.
What is happening today is nothing less than “Eco pornography” and I am sure that you will join me as we take this fight forward to its logical end. It is easy to pay lip service and try to pass muster as a socially responsible Corporate Citizen with a heart as green as the Devil’s envy. It is a completely different thing to walk the talk and be green, even at the cost of matters pecuniary. It is not just about a few lines in the website. It is not about how green the management is perceived to be. It is about what you actually do on the ground. Remember, if we fail, history will not judge us kindly. Worse, there may be no one to judge us only.
(Sumit Khetan is the CFO of the Concast Group and is an expert in overseas acquisitions and global financing. This particular piece had appeared in the October 2011 issue of the Core Sector Communique)