Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business and corporate social opportunity) is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large. In the modern business many Corporates are coming foreword to help the local community in many ways. The disability concern is becoming more and more addressed issue by the corporate sectors.
In this study an attempt has been made to review the status of disability related issues under CSR policies of various corporate sectors of India. For this study the fifty reports of Corporates sector were studied to identify the issues addressed by corporate sector. The reports were reviewed under four domains vise; 1). Top management commitments, 2). Corporate policy and practices, 3). Social inclusion and accessibility and 4). Corporate investment and partnership in disables entrepreneurs.
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The result of this analysis indicates that majority of the reports 22% has mentioned the corporate policies and practices for the welfare of people with disabilities followed by measures taken for social inclusion and accessibility. The top management commitment towards people with disability was next addressed issue followed by corporate investment and partnership in disabled entrepreneurs.
A. CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - AN INTRODUCTION
Gupta D.K & Saxena K (2006) in their paper "Corporate Social Responsibility in Indian Service Organizations: An Empirical Study" presented at International Conference on "CSR-Agendas for Asia" at Kuala Lumpur, elucidates the Corporate Social Responsibility by quoting a Sanskrit saying, 'Atithi Devo Bhav', meaning - 'the one who comes to you to be served should be taken to be God', sets the cord for services to be rendered with highest order of responsibility, be it to individuals or to the society. Thus, the tone for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with highest philosophical ambiance is already set in Indian context. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a phrase with wider meaning and depth. This phrase has long been in use with growth of industries and Corporates. It has long been debated, over its conceptual-extent, applicability, viability and issues like, actual implementation etc. inclusive of the issues like nature and size of the organizations.
According to Dr. Manne (Goralski, 1972), any working definition of Corporate Social Responsibility requires three aspects: A business expenditure or activity must be 'one for which the marginal returns to the corporation are less than the returns available from some alternative expenditure'; it must be purely voluntary; and must be an actual corporate expenditure rather than a conduit for individual largeness. Saxena & Gupta, 2005 defines CSR as 'Part - lying with corporates - of total commitment required to achieve complete harmony between terms and demands, even conflicting ones, of three core players - Society, Government and Corporates - for growth of healthy, meaningful and sustainable 'Business''.
Historical perspective of CSR
Thomas G & Nowak M (2006) explains the historical perspective of CSR in GSB (Graduate School of Business) working paper no. 62 "Corporate Social Responsibility: A Definition" that the term CSR may appear to be relatively new to the corporate world, the literature reveals that the evolution of the concept itself has taken place over several decades. It has been suggested by Windsor that 'business leaders have since the 1920s widely adhered to some conception of responsibility and responsiveness practices' (Windsor 2001). In 1953, Bowen conceptualized CSR as social obligation - the obligation 'to pursue those policies, to make those decisions, or to follow those lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of our society' (Bowen in Maignan & Ferrell 2004, p. 4). Carroll has described Bowen as the modern 'Father of Corporate Social Responsibility' and believes that his work marks the beginning of the modern period of literature on CSR. (Carroll 1999, p. 270) Bowen took a broad approach to business responsibilities, including responsiveness, stewardship, social audit, corporate citizenship and rudimentary stakeholder theory (Windsor 2001, p. 230). Peter Drucker was one of the first to explicitly address CSR, including public responsibility as one of the eight key areas for business objectives developed in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management. While Drucker believed that management's first responsibility to society involved making a profit, 'he felt it was also most important that management consider the impact of every business policy and action upon society' (Joyner & Payne 2002, p. 302).
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In 1960, Frederick wrote that 'Social responsibility in the final analysis implies a public posture toward society's economic and human resources and a willingness to see that those resources are used for broad social ends and not simply for the narrowly circumscribed interests of private persons and firms'. (Frederick in Carroll 1999, p. 271) The US Committee for Economic Development's (CED) 1971 model of CSR described that CSR is 'related to products, jobs and economic growth; related to societal expectations; and related to activities aimed at improving the social environment of the firm' (US Committee for Economic Development in Wheeler et al, 2003).
The literature of 1980s quotes the prominent work of R Edward Freeman on the emerging Stakeholder Theory and Carroll's believes on alternative concepts and themes such as corporate social responsiveness, Corporate Social Performance, public policy, business ethics, and stakeholder theory/management'. (Carroll 1999, p. 284) During this period The World Conservation Strategy report states that 'Sustainable development seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future' (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987).
In 1990s CSR used concept 'as the base point, building block, or point-of-departure for other related concepts and themes, many of which embraced CSR-thinking and were quite compatible with it. An important contribution to the literature was made by Wood in 1991 when she 'placed CSR into a broader context than just a stand-alone definition. An important emphasis in her model was on outcomes or performance' (Carroll 1999, p. 289).
Swanson (1995) suggested that there were three main types of motivation for CSR:
The utilitarian perspective (an instrument to help achieve performance objectives);
The negative duty approach (compulsion to adopt socially responsible initiatives to appease stakeholders); and
The positive duty view (businesses self-motivated regardless of social pressures) (Swanson in Maignan & Ralston 2002).
It is also a view that was overtaken in the 90s by a broadening discussion of the concept of stakeholder, and whether 'the first priority of a corporation is to its shareholders' (Nahan in Ryan, 2002) or whether policymakers should develop 'a flexible multistakeholder approach to promoting CSR', as Aaronson suggests has occurred in Britain in response to concern about global corporate responsibility (Aaronson 2003, p. 312). Global influences on CSR continued in the 1990s as the roles of business and government continued to blur. Writing in 1999, as the new millennium approached, Carroll suggested that, 'the CSR concept will remain as an essential part of the business language and practice, because it is a vital underpinning to many of the other theories and is continually consistent with what the public expects of the business community today'. (Carroll 1999, p. 292)
CSR in India
The concept of CSR had always been part of Indian business tradition, though it had not been highlighted in terms of CSR, as understood or defined today. People being highly social, the tradition of CSR had existed even before the industrial revolution in India in 20th Century, and manifested itself in practice and core philosophical thoughts. In contention to above, the term, 'Loksamagrah', finds mention in chapter III (20) of 'Gita'- the sacred Indian scripture expounding Indian philosophy, defines what should be the ultimate goal of actions and interactions. In detail, 'Loksamagraha' means-binding men together, and protecting, maintaining & regulating them in such a way that they might acquire that strength, which results from mutual cooperation, thereby putting them on the path of acquiring merit, while maintaining their good conditions (Tilak, 2000). It implies that society shall remain, if there is mutual cooperation among the serving elements, one of them being the Corporates. According to Jose, Bandi & Mehra (2003), the concept of 'Trusteeship', as propounded by Mahatma Gandhi, finds echo in the concept of 'Triple Bottom Line' impact of business. They further opine that, religion and charity have always been linked in India with business, and people being nurtured in a social environment founded on the belief that 'giving' is good. The conceptualization of CSR in Indian traditional sense of business has always been about Corporates going for general good. It can be concluded here that, the concept of 'social good as part of business' is more deep seated in Indian and other Asian countries for the reason given by Chua, Hannah Faye, Leu and Nisbett (2005), that East Asians are more holistic than westerners and the evidences suggest that, east Asians are more attuned to emotions than Americans. Around mid nineteenth century, the energy and material resources available in India, attracted the attention of West & Europe and business community in India to go for industrialization and development to meet the needs and demands of an empire and its subjects. This initiated evolution of business houses and Corporates in India, with integration of traditional charity and philosophical content of business, in terms of social responsibility in their ventures.
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Post independent era has been markedly different in India. The democratic setup and the rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution shaped out a new socio-political order in which, development of society required 'Heavy Industrialization' as mainstay. But, in late 1980s it was realized that with all good intentions of social responsibility, the policies and programmes led to the 'Quota Raj' or 'Licence Raj' i.e. Rule of License in India, due to which, social responsibility concept suffered very badly, and everything turned into a deadwood and growth actually got stopped. Then economists, executive and trade & commerce consortiums together made efforts to come out of the deadlock, and envisaged the paradigm shift in which, the social responsibility became responsibility of all players including the government. Floodgates were opened and private sector role came up in a very big way; And since liberalization of economy in 1991, the private sector has grown to become an entity in itself, and has been assigned role to partner developmental responsibilities with the government. This laid firm foundation for CSR and the need for its practice. The 2001 State of CSR in India poll' states 4 Models of CSR in India: The 'Ethical model' as suggested by Mahatama Gandhi, the 'Statist model', by Jawaharlal Nehru, the 'Liberal model' by Milton Friedman and the 'Stakeholder model' championed by R. Edward Freeman and according to the report all the four models co-exist in India today (Prakash-Mani, 2002).
There is vast literature available, and views of Ambani (Bakshi, 2004) can all be quoted as arguments in favour of CSR, but the gist of all is reflected in the words of JRD Tata, Doyen of Indian Business as quoted by Srivastava & Venkatswaran (2000), that the private sector should realize that they have to replay their part in the spirit of trusteeship advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and that, no Business is worthwhile, unless it serves the needs or interests of the country and its people.
Post Independence era in India had seen CSR practices grow in India. In banking sector, reported initiatives of 'Bank of India' & 'NABARD' (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) and 'Union bank of India' as quoted by Goswami (2005) show that CSR practices have contributed to the positive image of the institutions, have brought them closer to the society, and have resulted in the gainful self-employment of downtrodden.
The Management institutions such as SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow and IIT Bombay's School of Management are contributing by way of sensitizing their management students for corporate citizenship. Regarding CSR practices, the work of organizations like BILT, Tata Motors Ltd. ITC HLL's etc. in India (Mazumdar, 2002) show the involvement of organizations in one or the other activity for people, which organizations refer to as part of their CSR initiatives and practices. Other studies, like joint study conducted by UNDP, BC, CII, PwC between September-October, 2002 (CSR Survey, 2002), study for 'India's Best Managed Companies' conducted by Business Today, a business magazine in India along with global consulting firm A.T. Kearney (BT-A.T. Kearney Study, 2005), and 'Third survey' undertaken by Partners in Change (PIC, 2002-03) in the period 2002-2003 led the researchers to conclude that, the corporate sector has grown beyond the size of doing business with limited sections of society, involving limited resources with limited profits, as it used to do in late 19th to middle of 20th century. Today, corporate sector and institutions have grown to such a size, that their hold on world resources, capital generated out of business and business with all the sections of society, has become enormous. This has brought the organizations in an arena, where the element of responsibility is to be exercised by them as CSR practices, in order to have sustained development along with growth of business and survival of self, without straining and burdening the society.
CSR in Service Sector - Disability Rehabilitation
The above concluded section alone does not justify the CSR practices and initiatives because service sector stands out markedly from general domain of Corporates, as an entity to reckon with. Observations have been made regarding the importance of growth of service sector in relation to the whole world economy. Whatever data on CSR is available is limited to the service sectors like banking, insurance, agriculture, and child & women health. The other important sector "Rehabilitation" and Disability Rehabilitation in particular has very limited coverage. It can be concluded that there is dearth of studies about CSR in the field of rehabilitation. Chandrasekhar D.S (2006) made an attempt to study the coverage of disability and related issues in the corporate sectors involved in promotion of CSR. In this study the author has reviewed the reports of the Corporates. These reports were CSR reports, annual reports or any other report where the issues related to disability is been addressed. These reports were accessed through internet by visiting the respective website of the corporate organization. The list of these fifty corporate organizations is enclosed as Annexure - 1.
The corporate reports were reviewed against 13 indicators from four domains. The domains and indicators are as follows:
Domains with Indicators
Top Management Commitments
Equal opportunity for persons with disabilities
Explicit commitments in CSR strategies
Commitment to engage stakeholders with disability
Responsibility of Top management in corporate governance of disability issues
Corporate Policies and Practices
Performance measurement in relation to disability dimensions
Recruitment, retention and career development of employees with disabilities
Impact study on the employment practices on people with disabilities
Social Inclusion and Accessibility
Measures undertaken to make organization's environment disabled friendly
Encouragement of social inclusion and economic development of people with disabilities
Documentation and reporting in disability friendly formats
Corporate Investment & Partnership in Disabled Entrepreneurs
Partnership with Govt. or NGOs particularly run by people with disability
Sourcing of supplies from disabled entrepreneurs
Equity investment in disabled entrepreneurs
The analysis of reports against the indicators is populated in Table - 1 and graphically represented in Exhibit - 1, Exhibit - 2, Exhibit - 3, Exhibit - 4, and Exhibit - 5.
Table - 1
The analysis of the reports revels that on an average 16.5% reports indicate the concern towards persons with disabilities in their Corporate Social Responsibility coverage. The Corporate Policies and Practices (22%) is more addressed domain than the Social Inclusion and accessibility (17.3%), Top Management commitments (16%) and Corporate Investment & Partnership in Disabled Entrepreneurships (10.7%). This representation clearly indicates that the corporate sector has established Corporate Policies for the welfare of persons with disabilities, but seems to be less interested in investing and partnering with disabled entrepreneurs. The commitment of top management and their concern about social inclusion and accessibility is noticeable in their reports.
Exhibit - 1
The analysis of reports indicates that they are formally committed towards the implementation of CSR activities for the welfare of Persons with Disabilities. Most of the corporate reports (28%) had suggests that their Top Management committed towards providing equal opportunities for the persons with disabilities in their respective corporate sectors. 16% reports highlights the commitments of the managers in engaging stakeholders with disability in the organizations. The responsibility of top management in corporate governance of disability issues and commitments towards CSR strategies recorded as 10%.
Exhibit - 2
It is observed that corporate policies and practices toward disability were most focused and incorporated in 22% of the reports. Under this domain 36% reports mentioned that the performance measurement of employee with disability is carried out by keeping the dimensions of disability into consideration. 12% reports had mentioned that their respective corporate had specific policies and practices for recruitment, retention and career development of employees with disabilities. 18% reports had shown that the corporate took steps to study the impact of employment practices on people with disabilities.
Exhibit - 3
In 17.3% corporate reports social inclusion and accessibility was included. Under this domain the reports reflects that 20% reports have mentioned measures taken by the Corporates to make the organizations disable friendly. 22% reports highlights the steps taken by the organization to encourage the social inclusion and economic development of people with disabilities. 10% reports have specified their efforts in documenting and reporting in disability friendly formats.
Exhibit - 4
In relation to corporate investment and partnership with disabled entrepreneurs 10.7% reports mentioned the organizational concerns in doing so. In this domain 22% reports illustrate that the corporate involve themselves in establishing partnership with Government and Non Government agencies particularly run by people with disability. 06% reports establish the fact that the corporate is outsourcing the supplies from disabled entrepreneurs. 04% reports highlights that the corporate also invest equity in disabled entrepreneurs.
Exhibit - 5
The analysis of the result indicate that majority of the reports 22% has mentioned the corporate policies and practices for the welfare of people with disabilities followed by measures taken for social inclusion and accessibility. The top management commitment towards people with disability was next addressed issue followed by corporate investment and partnership in disabled entrepreneurs.
By considering the results, one can not ignore the sensitivity and concern of the corporate sector towards persons with disabilities but the need of hour requires more aggressive and emphatic approach for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. To do so the Corporates needs to be reinforced for taking such actions at grand scale.