Corporate Social Responsibility was considered as marketing technique till recently. Times have changed. Corporate sustainability is the future of every successful business now. Kavitha Nambiar, Masters in Environmental Science & Management from University of California, substantiates the change. Kavitha currently works as an Environmental, Health & Safety Fellow at General Electric company in US.
If you have been following the investment and contribution trends of large companies, you have probably noticed that there is an increasingfocus on issues such as environment, health, community development and women empowerment. In 2014, Infosys became the first ICT Company in India to declare a goal to become the first carbon neutral company by 2018 at the United Nations. It was only a few decades ago whencorporations investing in environmental sustainability was received with much skepticism. Concern over the environment was only starting to become common place, and environmental initiatives by companies were often considered a marketing tactic.
Times have changed. Ten years ago, only about a dozen Fortune 500 companies issued a sustainability report. Now the majority does. In fact, today, corporate sustainability goes beyond environmental initiatives, to include human rights, governance and safety. More than 8,000 businesses around the world have signed the UN Global Compact pledging to show good global citizenship in the areas of human rights, labor standards and even causes such as women empowerment. All of these issues are often bundled up into what the industry calls Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
India was one of the first countries to have CSR legislation, mandating companies to give 2% or more of their net profits to charitable causes, including environmental organizations. The law applies to companies with a net worth of over Rs. 5 billion, which accounts for only about 8,000 companies in India. However, these companies are setting the stage for a larger movement, and by putting out sustainability reports each year, are making their initiatives available to the public.
Not surprisingly, several medium-sized companies are voluntarily doing the same. Cochin International Airport is exemplifying sustainability. In August last year, the airport became the first in the world to meet all of its energy needs after it installed a 12 megawatt solar plant close to the cargo terminal. The airport’s Managing Director V.J. Kurian says it was the huge power bills that prompted them to look at greener solutions.
(Read the full article in the April Issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2016)