5 CSR Trends in 2016 and Beyond

It is now two years since the Indian government passed the CSR 2% spend legislation, the first country to mandate spending for corporate social responsibility. Most companies are reflecting on the impact of their CSR commitment as they audit, refine and improve their interventions. While there are discussions on the impact this law has made trends indicate opportunities that practitioners and leaders can tap to  make the most of their CSR strategies.

  • Rise of the employee advocate and activist

Customers are known to relate with brands that do credible charitable work. It is no different with employees who join and advocate brands that are socially conscious. Indian employees are said to give the most regard to an organization’s behavior with society. With increased visibility on CSR work done by organizations employees often identify with causes and lead initiatives that matter beyond their firm’s purview. Organizations need to encourage employees to be their own selves and actively pursue their interests that serve the communities around.

  • Opportunities in inter-organizational collaboration

Although there are reports of underspending and uncertainty about the guidelines there are opportunities for organizations to collaborate with each other and make a larger impact outside just their immediate neighborhood. With organizations facing similar challenges on the ground and broadly investing in similar areas joining hands for the common good is going to pick up steam.


  • Focus on measurement and engagement

The call to gauge impact of CSR continues to increase. With the legislation the case for change is now even stronger. Organizations will weigh human impact value vs long term societal improvements as they craft their measurement metrics. Likewise, organizations will consider measures to gauge the effectiveness of CSR initiatives and related branding.

  • Increase in accountability and rigor

As CSR becomes more strategic in nature organizations will continue to be more transparent in their processes and interventions. The necessity for companies to report CSR work and spend will rise and practitioners will be expected to be equipped with different skills that improve engagement with stakeholders and be more accountable for actions they take.

  • Need for CSR specialists

With multiple courses on offer to groom the future CSR leader organizations will revisit how they hire specialists for the role. Over the years people who manage CSR has seen their roles increase in scope and scale. The specialist will need to think strategically about the domain, build relationships and tell stories of change. There will be focus and attention to train employees to be better volunteers of change, a responsibility that the CSR specialist will own.

Have a point of view? Keen to hear what you think.

Shall We Give Freebies to Improve Our Sign-up Rates?

Dinesh is delighted that his project, an online learning platform will be launched in his company. This will change the way employees gain business perspectives and learn from each other. He invites his HR and Communication leaders, Tanya and Vini for a discussion on the launch plan.

Dinesh: “Hello Tanya and Vini. Thank you for joining. I am very excited that we are about to launch this fantastic system. I am sure our employees will love it.”

Tanya: “I am yet to get familiar with the tool but from what you say it does sound like a cool initiative. What is your plan for launch?”

Vini: (joining the conversation) “Before that Dinesh, could you explain the rationale behind this decision? Why do we need this tool? What wasn’t working currently and how do you think our employees will perceive it?”



Dinesh: “No problem.  Our employees have always wanted something like this – an opportunity to reach out and learn from each other. They sought a place where it can be managed centrally rather than going through a bureaucratic process of approvals to take trainings externally or internally.”

Tanya: “I hear you. So we have moved the learning modules online and it is now a faster way to learn, right?”

Dinesh: “Right. It also improves how we manage our budgets better”.

Vini: “You haven’t explained how employees will perceive this? What will motivate them to participate and use this tool?”

Dinesh: “Ah yes, I feel they will enjoy the new experience of moving online. Our audience is young and they are all web savvy – so guessing it will be a breeze. Also, we plan to give some give-aways for people to join the tool online. I am keen to get a high participation rates. ”

Vini: “Give-aways? Why? What is the measure of success?”

Dinesh: “You know how it is – people love to get freebies and incentives to participate. No harm in giving them a reason!”

Tanya: “Hmm. I am unsure if that is the right approach. Does it not give the feeling that we are enticing employees to do what they are expected to do? Learning is fundamental in life. It is their company and their learning tool. So they should better use it, right?”

Dinesh: “I disagree. Our employees are busy and don’t have the time. They must be coaxed to participate and learn”.

Vini (shaking his head): “This is not right. It goes against our values and culture! Can we rethink the approach again?”

Dinesh is unimpressed. He feels it is the right approach to take and doesn’t understand the resistance he is facing.

What do you think? How can you help Dinesh be successful?

How Do I Find My Career ‘Sweet Spot’?

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a person seeking advice on switching careers. This individual serves as a journalist with a leading publication in the city and is keen to move into corporate and internal communications.

She asked me for recommendations to change tracks and if certain qualifications such as an MBA do matter. She acknowledges that it probably needs more just a degree and that with her media and journalism background it might be easier to make the transition.

Her questions got me thinking about what people can do to break out of the rut, navigate their careers in communications and find their calling in life.

Irrespective of the degrees you have or the experience you have amassed it isn’t easy to decode what is the best way forward.  Often, we flit from one job or company to the other hoping to find the ‘perfect’ role. Some find their ‘sweet spot’ quicker while others struggle to come to terms with the world around them.

Talking about the sweet spot – if you are a tennis player you can probably relate to that effortless feeling you get when the ball connects with the middle of your racquet giving you the maximum speed and impact. Likewise, in cricket – it is that touch when the ball flies off the middle of your bat and you know exactly where it will head  towards the boundary line and past the outstretched hands of the fielder.

In the real world, to me it means the intersection between your passion, proficiency and positioning.

Career sweetspot model

You are only able to make the most appropriate choice and switch when you hit your sweet spot in life and therefore your career. But what do you need to do to get there and how will you find it?

Let’s break these down.

Passion is probably the easiest to relate to.  It about what you enjoy doing the most,that suits your personality and gives you the most happiness. You will experience this when what you do engages you mindfully. Social science researchers call it being ‘in the flow’. Consider letting your passion show at work and in life. Stay focused and grounded.

Proficiency is about skill, aptitude and expertise that helps you make a positive difference. Think of how you can be most qualified to make a mark. This means you need to be well versed with your area of work and are a go-to person people reach out to. Have you done enough to demonstrate your know-how in your field? Is there sufficient acknowledgement of your ability in your community, peer-group and among other stakeholders?

Finally, positioning relates to how you differentiate yourself from others out there. This is probably much harder to get a measure of. Positioning, in the marketing sense is creating a niche in the minds of customers. It is about serving the needs of the community, your organization, your team, your country and the world. Think of how you can solve a pressing issue or improve a niggling situation or drive a key agenda. You can only position yourself when you have a nose for sensing gaps that need answers to.

All the 3 circles are interrelated – you can’t just be passionate and not be proficient in areas that matter. Or be proficient in your work and yet not have the drive to get things done. Likewise, you can’t position yourself when you aren’t focused and adept in your area of work.

How long will it take to find your ‘sweet spot’? It is a journey and not a destination.  By being aware of these three circles and how they fit your life and career you have a better chance of shaping your ‘sweet spot’.

In short, stay curious, connected and committed and you will find your ‘sweet spot’.

Keen to hear your views. Look forward to reading them here.