Indian companies are not required to disclose information regarding social responsibility and actions under the companies act. Religious and social welfare agencies are required to invest only in government securities and are not supposed to make investment in private sector companies where they can force companies to make investments in socially desirable activities. Organized consumer organizations were absent in India till the early 90s. The few that cropped up later do not have the resources and legal expertise to fight legally big companies to be more socially responsible. The public sector units, however, have discharged their social responsibilities in a much better way when compared to their counterparts in the private sector. The Public sector units established industries in underdeveloped areas, built townships and done maintenance, recreation, education, housing and other employee welfare activities.
In the private sector, Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) had been the first company to set up a social Audit Committee in the late 50s to take care of community development, rural development and other employee welfare activities. They have under taken running adolescent centres, Mahila Vikas Melas, family planning / leprosy clinics, shramadaan work, crèche centres, cricket stadium, flood relief camps, blood bank, cancer detection, naturopathy centres, promoting rural development scheme such as providing training to farmers in modern agricultural methods and multi-cropping techniques, assisting in dairy poultry, encouraging village industries, offering health care, constructing a residential colony, school and colleges for tribal students, running cooperative societies etc.
The company has undertaken all the above activities and many more welfare amenities voluntarily. The social performance of the company is of a high order as revealed by an independent social audit organization.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, which takes care of over 85% of India’s crude oil and natural gas production. ONGC proclaims that in their company everybody matters and the best way to attain organizational excellence is by developing and inspiring the true potential of the company’s human capital. It focuses attention in areas of education, health care and family welfare, promotion of sports, development of infrastructure facilities, weaker sections of society. The Japanese concept of Kaizen has long been adopted in ONGC in order to move towards world class systems processes and practices.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. too has discharged its social responsibilities remarkably well all these years. It has a scheme for the welfare of its employees in various townships and their surrounding communities. While trying to care for the community welfare, it has tried to involve local bodies, and municipal authorities as well. The activities undertaken to improve the lot of employees include drinking water, laying roads, health facilities, family planning clinics, drive to curb drinking, dowry, drug addiction, etc., educational facilities, scholarships to the poor, locating ancillary units in rural areas, starting cooperative credit and consumer societies; organizing cultural and recreational programmes etc.
Hindustan Unilever Limited
Apart from substantial investments in research and development (in soaps and detergents, popular foods, tea and coffee, ice cream, personal products), Hindustan Unilever Ltd focuses its attention on environment, its safety and energy conservation. Zero accidents is the motto and during 98-99 it has successfully reduced the accident rate by over 55 per cent having received certificates of excellence in safety from Unilever Ltd. The environment audit is carried out by a UK co. which certified the company as eco-friendly after visiting five of its sites in different parts of India. The plantation group continues to maintain a standard for the tea industry in all aspects of safety and environment management.
Trade relations with stockists, retailers and consumer groups have always been excellent. HUL is fully conscious of its social responsibilities and has devised an attractive social security and retirement package. It is comparable to the best in the industry for employees availing the voluntary retirement schemes. Activities under the total productivity maintenance programme pursued in the factories were audited under the company’s Food Quality Assurance programme and received excellent ratings time and again. HUL is absorbing people with talents and expertise to assume roles of importance within and outside the company. HUL has donated Rs 2 crore to the families of the martyrs and to those officers who were left physically challenged during the Kargil conflict.
In the private sector, companies such as Asian Paints, Broke Bond, Colgate Palmolive, Escorts Ltd, ITC realized the importance of social responsibility long back and have initiated / undertaken employee and community development programmes in a big way. A few corporate houses have identified some special areas and earned a name in sports and entertainment.