For the uninitiated CSR can mean Customer Sales Representative. But for corporate types, it stands for Corporate Social Responsibility.
CSR is serious business in the IT sector in India. There is the obvious attempt by corporates to reach out to the larger community and make a difference. But there are less obvious benefits that goes with CSR – brandbuilding.
Come the meltdown. What’s going to happen to CSR? Apparently, the financial whirlpool and job insecurity has not dampened the corporate do-good spirit. At least that’s what some prominent IT companies are saying.Cisco, for instance, continues to be a significant contributor to the Akshaya Patra Foundation, an organization that has managed to draw the attention of US President-elect Barack Obama, for its efforts in providing lunch for underprivileged children in government schools.
Cisco also claimed that it has succeeded in its target to provide the mid day meal to 20,000 children, through its ‘Harvest of Hope’- Hunger Relief campaign. In India, the campaign is referred to as ‘Feed a child’ campaign. The company employees gave gadgets like Nintendo wiis, iPods, pearl necklaces, etc in auction to raise funds. The employees still have the option to donate till December 31.
As every year, employees from 24/7 BPO employees continued to support Parikrama, a non-government organisation involved in providing education to underprivileged children. The company employees voluntarily contributed half-day’s salary once in a month, or in a quarter or a year.
Intel employees across the world volunteered a million hours towards community efforts just this year, its fortieth anniversary. Shelly Esque, Intel vice president for Legal and Corporate Affairs said, ‘The impact of 1 million hours of volunteering, coupled with the Intel Foundation’s volunteer matching grant of approximately $8 million for non-profits and schools, makes a big difference for the communities in which our employees live and work.’
Infosys was emphatic in stating that the company’s CSR had ‘not at all’ been affected in any way by the global economic recession. However, instead of direct disclosure of its initiatives, a visit to the site, Infosys Foundation, was recommended. Infosys Foundation is a public charitable trust, founded in 1996 by Infosys Technologies for the purpose of serving the aspects healthcare, education, social rehabilitation and the arts.
Microsoft too remained unaffected by the economic meltdown. Vikas Goswami, Lead CSR from Microsoft said, ‘Access to information and communication technology is a catalyst for creating a more equitable order of economic opportunities and sustainable development. As has been our focus, we will continue to work towards empowering and enabling the marginalized sections of society by providing IT training, skills and tools to create social and economic opportunities that can transform communities and help people realize their potential.’
If the IT majors are to be believed, it is full steam ahead as far as CSR is concerned.