Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, as it is known in common talk, has become a part and parcel of business ethics. It has carved out a niche for itself in the corporate handbook, transforming the way in which companies seek to present themselves to the consumer.
Investors are starting to prefer companies that have shown themselves as socially conscious and involved in community projects. This has resulted in corporates scrambling to establish CSR departments to take care of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards, and social initiatives. However, this has had a nasty spillover effect as companies are increasingly using CSR activities as a means to promote their businesses. Another side effect of this mad rush to get CSR activities online is that a visible disconnect has risen between companies and their CSR efforts.
For most companies, CSR is just another way to increase their base consumers and raise brand awareness. As such, CSR in most companies is handled by people who have to shoulder other responsibilities as well. This results in CSR receiving the short end of the stick. The issue is akin to a ticking time bomb that can go off at any moment, leaving a grave fallout.
Analyzing the situation, Ashwin Subramanian, Founder and CEO of Ashwidea, says, “They often have a very short span of time to get all the information and put it across to their Board to approve as a CSR activity. We have created a format where people can get whatever relevant information they need, without having to go through a 20-page proposal.”
Ashwidea is Ashwin’s baby – an amalgamation of his name, Ashwin, and idea. What started out as a blog where he documented sustainable practices that he followed, is now a successful company. Ashwini has evolved into a consultancy that advises corporates on running CSR programs and activities. The company also works with non-profits for fundraisers and acts as the bridge between the corporate world and the non-profits looking for sponsorships.
“One aspect of our work is fundraising, the other is engaging with volunteers on different kinds of projects as they are called in CSR parlance,” he says. “This includes the activities they are running, how to manage them better, or providing services like assessments for those kinds of projects. We also work with corporates who are trying to figure out what they want to do from their CSR perspective and what they can do with their CSR social impact programs and how they want to define them.”
The presence of firms like Ashwidea is a god-send. Such firms not only help direct CSR efforts the right way but also connects non-profits to sponsors. The visible disconnect between the corporate world and CSR is not one that can be eliminated in a day. Nevertheless, it is the efforts of people like Ashwin Subramanian that contribute to eliminating the gap, one yard at a time.