Corporate Social Responsibility originated from the revelation that businesses do not exist in a vacuum but are an integral part of society. They are co-dependent, and neither can succeed at the expense of the other. A company’s profits are no longer the sole metric to judge its success; brand loyalty and community welfare and outreach programs are significant components to a company’s success; it promotes brand loyalty and encourages repeat customers to come back and advertise the business via word of mouth.
As such, companies are increasingly looking towards Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, as an ancillary method to boost the company’s visibility and goodwill. While the underlying motives for these initiatives might be selfish, there is no denying the fact that CSR has the potential to do some major good for the society, particularly its most deprived classes and individuals.
Corporate Social Responsibility in Education
Most corporates find that they have a vested interest in education, and it is obvious why. It is education that will empower the next generation of consumers and employees. Both of this two will have a direct impact on the viability, sustainability, and profitability of the enterprise. Also, education is the foremost sector that renowned for bringing in the most goodwill and positive public outreach. But most of all, education is the sector where large corporate investments can be utilized to the greatest extent.
Diversification of Resources
With investment in education as pervasive as it is, one might expect wondrous change to take place. However, it is not so. Most of the investment is dedicated to providing for infrastructure requirements in the form of equipment, study materials, etc. It comes in no observable fashion or order. The focus on increasing the demand for education or trying to affect systemic change was severely lacking in corporate social responsibility efforts in the domain of education.
What needs to be Done
CSR has historically worked in the form of providing funds to NGOs. Specifically, those who are in turn engaged with grassroots education programs. This kind of funds often comes with riders as well. To take the decision that how the company name can be advertised. And also how the NGO might spend that money for better returns. Corporates must learn to accept risk when they are funding education initiatives. Education is not something like other kinds of business. Here we can’t pour resources into it for optimization.
Education programs also need to scale nationwide and work with the co-operation of the government and not outside its ambit. There is also a crying need to develop assistive technologies within the country. As most e-learning initiatives are in English, which limits their use in the neediest of sectors.
Corporate Social Responsibility is an essential part of the initiative to actively engage in this activity. It will help to encourage large corporates to donate some of their ample resources for the greater good. Though the approach or implementation may vary from company to company. And so far, what CSR has achieved over the years is simply not up for debate. Corporates should consider deeply where and how to invest their funds, especially in terms of education. So that it serves the benefit of the people rather than some specific vested interests.