AMCHAM’s CSR Committee organized the 6th CSR Conference themed ‘The Future is Here: The Role of CSR in the New World’ on January 24th in New Delhi. The conference showcased best practices and explored deeper collaboration with all stakeholders in the CSR ecosystem. Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, in her welcome remarks, emphasized the longstanding commitment of U.S. companies to CSR and shared about AMCHAM’s recently launched Public Health Working Group, in collaboration with USAID. Mr. Harish Krishnan, Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director & Chief Policy Officer, Cisco Systems, India & SAARC set the scene for the conference by outlining the sessions and talked about the impact CSR has on society, effects of rapid digitalization and the need to scale up government collaborations for success. In the inaugural address, Mr. Praveen Kumar, Director General & CEO, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs shared the rationale behind the requirement for corporate to spend 2% of profits on CSR and how CSR has become an effective tool for achieving SDGs targets. He talked about the importance of innovation, how CSR must be integrated in a company’s core business philosophy and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ National CSR Exchange Portal.
Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director, USAID/India, in a special address, commended the speedy response of U.S. companies during the COVID crisis, shared examples of contributions of AMCHAM members and announced that AMCHAM and USAID were expanding the existing MOU to include areas of collaboration in environment, financial inclusion, mitigating climate change, etc. AMCHAM and USAID signed an updated MOU (view more details here). In a special address, Mr. Dominic Scott, Vice President, Government Affairs & Strategy, Asia-Pacific, Cisco Systems shared how globalization has spurred on the realization that corporates must be genuine partners in their local communities and encouraged organizations to consider creative ideas for solving new age challenges. He shared examples of the work that Cisco does through education and skilling, economic empowerment and meeting critical human needs. Mr. Ankur Malhotra, Co-Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM and Director – Corporate Affairs & CSR, Hewlett Packard Enterprise India, complimented the Indian government on widening the CSR scope and pointed out the importance of collaboration between companies for greater social impact.
Session 1: Future of Work – The Role of CSR was moderated by Mr. Srikrishna Sridhar Murthy (Krishna), CEO and Co-Founder, Sattva with Mr. Jaidev Murti, Managing Director, Accenture, Mr. Pranav Choudhary, COO, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, Ms. Anubhuti Kaul Bhrany, Senior Director and Head – Government Affairs, India, Flex and Mr. Ashutosh Chadha, Director and Country Head Public Policy and Government Affairs, Microsoft. The discussion focused on long term sustainable skilling approaches, challenges to diversifying portfolios, leveraging volunteerism to enable last mile impact, the need to measure the larger economic impact of the skill gap and the role and evolution of technology in skilling.
Session 2: Opportunities for CSR in Urbanization was moderated by Ms. Aarti Mohan, Co-Founder and Partner, Sattva with Ms. Simran Thapar, Associate Director Human Resources, Carrier Airconditioning & Refrigeration Ltd., Mr. Srikanth Viswanathan, Chief Executive Officer, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, Ms. Kanika Sabherwal, Company Secretary & Assistant Finance Manager, Smiths Detection Systems and Mr. Srinivas Ramanujam, Chief Executive Officer, Villgro. The session tackled challenges created by rapid urbanization, how governments recognize the need for partnering with private sector to provide basic amenities and infrastructure, challenges to investing CSR funds into cities, how vital it is to partner with municipalities, ways to enable more focus on urban solid waste management and urban affordable housing through CSR and allocating resources for system level change.
Session 3: The Role of Digital Platforms and Their Impact on the Social Sector was moderated by Mr. Manohar Sreekanth, Partner and CTO, Sattva with Ms. Rohini Kamath, Manager, India Cash Grant Program, Cisco India, Ms. Dipakshi Mehandru, Director, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Dell Technologies India, Ms. Kriti Mittal, Entrepreneur in Residence, Omidyar Network India and Mr. Satyam Gambhir, Co-Founder, Platform Commons. The discussion provided an overview of the digital public good landscape, funding trends, future needs, importance of regulation, governance dimensions of digital platforms and the need for public-private partnerships towards co-creating and co-funding.
Session 4: Next-Gen CSR Approaches to Adopt and Scale Innovations for Public Health Outcomes was moderated by Mr. Rohit Sahani, Partner, Social Impact Practice, BCG India with Dr. Namita Singh MD, Associate Director, Medical Affairs & Global Public Health, India/South Asia, BD, Mr. Nrip Nihalani, Director – Product Management, Plus91 Technologies, Ms. Tanu Arora, Sr. Regional Counsel, Sr. Director, Government Affairs, CSR Lead, Stryker India and Ms. Sangita Patel, Director, Health Office, USAID/India. The session explored where private sectors capabilities, assets and resources could be leveraged to bolster India’s public healthcare system. Ways for private sector capital to be mobilized towards public health via CSR, skilling of frontline healthcare workers, collaborative models to amplify CSR and the importance of trust, open communication and co-creation amongst all stakeholders was also discussed. An overview of AMCHAM’s Public Sector Working Group was shared.
The conference concluded with thoughts for the way forward from Mr. Ankur Malhotra, Co-Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM and Ms. Meera Harish, Partner, Sattva. The importance of innovation, collaboration, and ability to prioritize and act quickly were emphasized. AMCHAM would work towards enabling a matchmaking system for civil society partners and corporates through presentations from organizations pitching their innovative CSR ideas and a compendium. Ms. Valerie Swope, Program Coordinator, AMCHAM emceed the event and closed the conference by thanking the esteemed speakers, engaging audience and valuable partners for the conference: Cisco (platinum partner), Viatris (platinum partner) and Sattva (knowledge partner).