CSR is not about targets, it cannot come out of numbers

Updated: Mar 26 2006, 05:30am hrs
Corporate social responsibility is making sure that one is taking steps that are appropriate for the people a corporate is there for. It is neither philanthropy nor charity, as it is seen to be. It is rather responsibility of every corporation towards society. Unlike the other components of business, it is also not about targets, so it cannot come out of numbers. It rather comes out of the recognition that one is a responsible business body, accepted and respected in the arena of its operation.

The way we discrharge corporate responsibility changes from company to company, depending on the sector it is part of. Like a company in manufacturing needs to take responsibility of all it has withdrawn from nature. Also, for any financial body, operating in the correct way, paying taxes and giving a share to every stakeholder are part of the responsibility.

Corporate responsibility is also about the consumer. Fulfilling our promise of what we should be providing to them using right kind of material, formulation and methodologies that are friendly to the consumer and the system are things we need to take care of.

Corporate responsibility is not a little flag to fly and show that something is being done; it is more fundamental. With people coming to us and asking about the initiatives, it is evident that consciousness about it is now catching up. But how much can be done still remains to be debated.

Reckitt Benckiser is present in 140 countries. The group spends over 5 million all across the nations annually. The Indian fund has a million pounds to itself. Our strategy involves allocating funds, conducting awareness drives on hygiene and involving our people in the social activities. But, beyond all these is the philosophy of being responsible.

The foundation of Dettol and other brands by Reckitt Benckiser has been on germ protection and personal and home hygiene. Under the same, we run programmes with hospitals, nursing fraternity, healthy ministry, armed forces, etc. Our newly launched Surakshit Parivar programme is also on similar lines. We are starting the initiative with six metros, rolling it to other cities later. The initiative, in its pilot phase, has been to hospitals spreading awareness among people, putting up protection posters, suggesting how relevant Dettol is, etc. Obviously this will help us in further branding of Dettol, which is essential for us. But all this must happen with certain amount of responsible action.

The Surakshit Parivar programme will provide and advocate good hygiene practices in family environs. It has three key legs, New Mother, School Handwash and Hospital programmes. We are undertaking the initiatives with the Indian Medical Association.

Chander M Sethi is CMD, Reckitt Benckiser India Ltd.
As told to Jyoti Verma