Beyond Philanthropy: How business can have a greater impact in society by David Cruickshank

India is now the fastest growing major economy however performance in social welfare still lags behind its economic success. By 2020, India is forecast to be the youngest country in the world with a median age of 29, and its population is predicted to exceed China’s by 2030. This is even more pertinent given the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda – a set of 17 Goals that countries will use to mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. India’s role in the 2030 Agenda could not be more critical.

To support this ambitious agenda, the demographic growth and for business to succeed in India, it will need to deepen its commitment to sustainable development and work in conjunction with civil society and government to utilise its skills, innovation and resources to shorten the gap between economic and social performance.

The Indian government has recognised the responsibility of business to advance social progress in the 2013 Companies Act, which requires that companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more, or a net profit of Rs 5 crore or more, contribute 2% of their net profit to charity. Four years later the Companies Act has had some impressive results. Indian companies’ charitable spending has increased seven-fold to Rs 25,000 crore and the Act has helped bring CSR to the attention of company executives. For all of the good driven by the Companies Act, it does not render all socially responsible investment equal. And we shouldn’t measure the societal impact of business just by charitable donations alone.

To make meaningful impact, business must first understand the challenges that communities face in order to best direct their efforts. To enable this the Institute for Competitiveness has worked in conjunction with the Social Progress Imperative to develop a State level Social Progress Index for India to measure the things that matter most to people. The Index uses over 50 societal and environmental outcome indicators, ranging from measuring the number of women in Panchyati Raj Institutions to assessing power deficits, to map the social and environmental status of Indian States. It will provide insight into the most pressing needs of communities and serve as a road map to guide investments, resources and collaborations.

For the last four years, Deloitte has partnered with the Social Progress Imperative to measure what matters to countries, regions and communities and understand how to achieve inclusive growth that benefits all citizens. The India State Index provides a holistic approach towards measuring social developments which will help India to make social progress more integral to the policymaking process and drive collaboration between government, business, and civil society organisations. This is an important step forward as India works toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

If businesses seek to be make a difference, and to be judged by more than just financial results, tools like the India State Index can help guide where and how best to effect change. In doing so companies can build a reputation, and a business, that will last and have a greater impact on society.

David Cruickshank

Deloitte Global Chairman

 

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