I moved to Mysore over four years ago and was pleased to discover that there was already some interest in leisure cycling. One of my early cycle trips organised by Sham Sunder, an inspirational guy, who is Director of National Institute of Engineering’s CREST also highlighted that Mysore had a significant movement in the use of sustainable technologies and organic farming. This was proving to be a very interesting place.
The new companies act in India and the Responsible Business week in the UK are two of the many opportunities for businesses to stop, reflect and, I would hope, work towards being a more responsible company. It is of course a constant and continuing journey.
In this case, in my view, a business needs to look BP – that is Beyond Philanthropy.
Philanthropy is undoubtedly a force for good and some of the real catalysts and facilitators such as Dasra, Innovaid or Centre for Responsible Business in India or Business in the Community in the UK are helping individuals and businesses look beyond the simple ‘crumbs off the table’ approach to philanthropy, to something much more strategic that can be scaled up and therefore make a significant difference on the social landscape. Well done to them, they’re doing a great job
Its important that philanthropy leads to investment in our communities that has a lasting effect but that isn’t enough. If our businesses in India or the UK or anywhere else for that matter stop there, at what is just a baby step, they are less likely to survive as a business. There are many mature companies that are leading in this field and in the future will thrive partly because they are already looking way beyond philanthropy and so are already doing much much more. Their stories are invaluable to help guide and support us all.
To go Beyond Philanthropy for a business, is to look at all aspects of their business and its behaviors, of course, recognising and responding first and foremost to what’s relevant to their own business and essentially understanding and interacting in a sensitive way to all their stakeholders. In my view its about aligning with the overall business strategy, gaining buy-in at all levels, developing a shared understanding, adopting a straightforward model and continually reviewing, adapting and changing.
I’m now developing (as well as spending sometime with corporates) my very small business here in India and its just as important for me to think about how I serve my customers, treat my employees, and grow my business in ways that are ultimately sustainable. Otherwise other people who are socially and economically excluded will be left behind in the headlong pursuit of economic growth and if we’re not extremely sensitive I wonder what will be left of the world for us to support our living and for us to enjoy.
I hadn’t quite intended that http://www.meandmycycle.com would so quickly get into this subject but its been asked of me and I suppose its unsurprising now that I’ve just completed working in the field for fifteen years.
I’d value your view and if there is the interest could continue the conversation.