This article has been written by Sneha Asthana, pursuing the Diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels from LawSikho.
Corporate Social Responsibility is an idea whereby companies utilize a certain sum of their profits to build a better world including society, environment, and infrastructural development for the country. Society is a very crucial part of any business in terms of market, resources, etc. Giving back to society should be an important function of these industries. Therefore, the Indian Company law mandated Corporate Social Responsibility as a part and parcel of any company’s functions. This was done through Section 135 of Companies Act, 2013 which makes it mandatory for the companies to invest a minimum of 2% of their profits earned during the three financial years immediately preceding the year of creating the Corporate Social Responsibility Policy, in social welfare activities. Most of these activities are to be focused on the eradication of poverty, hunger, gender inequality, and working towards rural development.
Following the mandate of Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, Indian companies making the required amount of profits/net worth have to participate either financially or physically, in activities that are for the betterment of society. The Indian government has mandated such social welfare activities for companies, however, several of the big companies had already dipped their hands in doing the same. Section 135 of the Companies Act not only talks about partaking in such activities but also talks about the creation of CSR-specific Committees appointing said people to manage such CSR affairs. However, this case study will focus more on the CSR Policy and major CSR activities of the companies which have benefitted millions of people standing true to its name.
Infosys and its Corporate Social Responsibilities
Infosys was one of the few companies that demonstrated responsibility towards their society early on, even before it was mandated by the law and therefore, after doing a thorough study about the various ways their functioning can cause problems to the society, they devised and initiated several programs primarily focusing on environmental sustainability, preserving and developing culture and heritage, spreading more awareness and giving education to the underprivileged sections of the society and promoting health care measures through the Infosys Foundation which was established in 1996. The company continues to work with several partners like the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and 3M for collaborations in regards to research, publications, trials, etc. In collaboration with diverse partners from across the world, Infosys always comes up with the most innovative plethora of programs that target simple issues at their roots and benefit society greatly. Under its 2021 Policy, the Company declares that its main areas of focus will remain:
- Hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and health
- Rural development projects.
- Gender equality and empowerment of women.
- Environment sustainability.
- National heritage, are, and culture.
The Company has decided to partner with several NGOs to benefit society with various programs. Some of those are discussed below.
What are the initiatives taken by the company?
- Environment sustainability
The company focuses on problems such as water conservation, carbon emissions, use of plastic, and climate change. One of the major goals for the company was to become carbon-neutral in its functioning. As the company has more than 3 lakh employees, they are more vulnerable to have huge carbon prints. Their efficiently constructed buildings with sensors and energy-saving algorithms enable them to function in auto-pilot mode. The artificial intelligence used in these buildings thoroughly integrates water and energy consumption which allows authorities to keep the user in control by providing on-the-spot data and other details of regular usage. Most of these outlets are connected to Sensors placed in their countrywide offices and have such independent characteristics attached that their maintenance doesn’t require physical personnel.
Their key monitoring areas include temperature, water consumption, energy usage, indoor air quality, critical assets, alerts, and warnings, etc. In addition to the same, Infosys also prefers purchasing their offset products from the local markets, thereby promoting and developing rural areas instead of purchasing it from the sharks as the big fish generally tend to ignore the harm caused to the environment. Further research also showed the huge quantities in which plastic is being used in the several offices they have. Having several offices spread across the country that employs more than 3 lakh people, huge amounts of waste is generated from these offices.
After understanding the unfortunate contributions that lead to dangerous environmental conditions, Infosys decided to change its ways of functioning. It decided to cut down the use of plastics by ensuring that steel cutlery is used in their canteens and paper water cups are replaced with steel bottles for each individual. In addition to plastic waste and carbon prints, Infosys also focuses on conserving water. Certain significant changes in the plumbing system, water usage leaks, unequal distribution of water went a long way for Infosys in ensuring that water is conserved and not used unnecessarily. Waterless urinals without any risks to a person’s health have been introduced in many of their offices. Some of the washrooms had key-valve plumbing done to fill any possible leaks and ensure the least amount of water is consumed without taking a toll on people’s health. Small devices known as Pressure Compensation Aerators that are used on taps have also been installed all around their campuses to ensure that water flows in a consistent force thereby making sure it’s not wasted. Another feather to its cap is the Infosys EcoWatch which is a software that readily delivers all possible alternatives and solutions to carbon emissions, water wastage, etc. Infosys partnered with Bharat Petroleum for the same making it one of the biggest organizations that target highly intrinsic environmental problems which have been camouflaged in lengthy processes.
Their long-stretched efforts in compliance with the Environment Sustainability 2020 practice are made to seek long-term results out of the efforts invested by the company. Fortunately, these efforts worked well in their favor and today Infosys has about 40,000 assets connected to the Center Command ensuring that usage patterns are identified and loopholes are rectified immediately. As per their expectation, Infosys has also successfully started eight community-based offset long-term projects in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, etc.
Infosys has been recognized by the United Nations in 2019 for their efficiently made building using AI for the best of its use and maintaining good environmental health. According to statistics, the automated buildings allowed the company to function efficiently even when the staff wasn’t present physically. To top it all, these buildings helped the company reduce the connected load by 33 MegaWatts.
As the company has more than 3 lakh employees, they are more vulnerable to have huge carbon prints and great usage of plastic. After understanding the unfortunate contributions that lead to dangerous environmental conditions, Infosys decided to change its ways of functioning. It decided to cut down the use of plastics by ensuring that steel cutlery is used in their canteens and paper water cups are replaced with steel bottles for each individual. This reduced their generated waste by 23% in just a year which also helped them cut costs and use their resources more efficiently. What helps them further is the Infosys EcoWatch because not only does it provide solutions, it reads in all data entered to device new strategies. All of the above-mentioned efforts have contributed significantly to helping the environment and helped it to cut costs on avoidable expenditure.
- Public healthCare
The Infosys Foundation was created with a mission to help introduce health care programs for the people of the society. The Foundation has partnered with Sankara Netrayala, Swami Vivekananda Integrated Rural Health Centre, and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences for treating the blind, eradication of leprosy, and offering comprehensive care service for patients suffering from psychiatric and neurological problems respectively.
While Public Healthcare has always been a key issue that companies focus on, Infosys has picked certain very important health problems that don’t seem to be getting the aid they require. Additionally, Infosys has also collaborated with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jhajjar, and the government to make an 800 bed Dharamsala which could be used by cancer patients and their treatment and also to accommodate their families during the treatment. The hospital is said to have about 1500 rooms, around 700 beds, and dormitories for the family. The construction costs for the same are to be borne by Infosys and the rest of the cost is to be looked after by the government.
Infosys also focuses on women’s health in Jaipur through Jan Chetna Manch, Bokaro. One of the key factors of Infosys’ CSR is women empowerment which aligns itself to the healthcare initiatives taken by Jan Chetna Manch, Bokaro. Therefore, Infosys has partnered with the same to ensure hospital services are easily accessible to women, especially those who are pregnant or mothers already.
According to the latest reports, Infosys has been quite successful in helping the people of our society. Infosys has successfully converted hospitals into Ophthalmic Centers and is beginning a project to make a hospital for serving the blind particularly and offering around 12,000 surgeries for free. The SVIRHC has also been successful in eradicating leprosy by treating 3,747 leprosy patients, 11,083 tuberculosis patients, and conducting free eye operations for 16,869 patients. Patients with psychiatric and neurological problems receive regular funding for treatment and stay costs. The Jharkhand initiative turned out to be very fruitful for the women of Jharkhand who mostly worked in Self Help Groups. They were educated about their physical body, menstruation, pregnancy, and maternal care while being offered the same services at healthcare centers for minimum costs.
Another one of the most important issues of India is the lack of education. Most of the Indian population is rural and doesn’t have access to the high standards of education that urban citizens receive. In addition to this, the widely accepted concept of ‘rote learning’ opens up the problem of the lack of employability skills in a student. Regardless of how much a person has studied, they remain unemployable until they receive extra training. To tackle this issue, Infosys partnered with Avanti fellows who use a different approach to teaching which is analytical thinking skills, problem-solving orientation, creativity, debates and practical testing.
Their unique pedagogy ‘peer learning’ allows them to move past the regular rote learning and exposes these students to the many skills that they have. This initiative ensures that children who have received basic education receive good job opportunities in the STEM fields. One more catch that the rural people of India face is hunger. Most of the students studying in government schools cannot afford to have three meals a day. Therefore, Infosys has partnered with Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra in the Bannerghatta Forest area in Bengaluru to provide free meals to children belonging to BPL (Below Poverty Line) families and hence promote education among them.
Both these initiatives have had very high success rates. According to studies, Avanti fellows-Infosys has helped about 40,000 students from marginalized communities in getting a good quality education in the STEM fields. Post the success of the same, STEM also introduced medical courses and training for AIIMS which, yet again, helped more than 1000 students to appear for the exam. Their second initiative of eradicating hunger in classrooms has ensured that the drop-out rate has decreased leaving more people to continue their education. Accurate statistics of the same haven’t been recorded, however, Karnataka is pleased with the initiative as more students join in each year.
While Infosys didn’t leave any leaf unturned in regards to giving back to society, it appears that most of their CSR activities are way too scattered and may also appear unapproachable to people who could benefit from the same. It is clear to us that Infosys has a plethora of initiatives for environment conservation which is the need of the hour but focusing its major resources on one thing and not equally distributing resources to other key issues gives birth to a problem. In partnering with various NGOs, Infosys has successfully participated in CSR activities mainly by supporting them financially. However, a few more initiatives that require human communication, to understand the need of humans and give it a personal touch would appeal to society more than to majorly just be a dormant partner.
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