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Social Responsibility

Extract from Ravi Chaudhry’s address on Corporate Social Responsibility

In every country, one comes across world’s best and the world’s worst examples of corporate governance. But on a broader canvass, if we exclude a handful of notable exceptions, the corporate sector today faces a loss of confidence.

Collectively, the business communities’ actions and governments’ implicit complicity have re-affirmed a widely-held perception that business objectives and society’s needs tend to be like the two tracks of a railway line. Looking ahead, they appear to converge in the distance; in reality, they never do. It is a mirage.

The process of restoring trust fully rests with the Board of Directors of a company. This responsibility cannot be wished away, nor can it be delegated.

I perceive this as a challenge to take the step forward from CSR to ISR; from “Corporate Social Responsibility” to “Individual Social Responsibility” of the CEO. From generic corporate accountability to individual answerability of the CEO. From merely a symbolic, committee-led, case-study-oriented, audit-based system to a system prompted and propelled by CEO’s conscience.

I say so because we are not going back to the world we knew. I discern the global emergence of a new fifth phase of human enterprise that is redefining the criteria of success and re-contouring the routes to success.

This process is driven by:

  • Increased demand for Social Consciousness &
  • Need to function in sync with society & environment

Corporate leaders that are “realistic” enough to acknowledge the new ‘realism’ will emerge as winners in this new phase. This is not philanthropic talk. The only one choice is: accept the new realism willingly or grudgingly.

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