Since its establishment in the country, Cisco India has been committed to drawing upon its technology leadership to give back to society. From cutting-edge telemedicine initiatives to children’s health care programmes to childcare services, Cisco India takes the lead in integrating with the country’s recent CSR law and adapting and extending the reach of global CSR strategies to ensure maximum impact. Not only this, Cisco India aligns its social responsibility strategies with the company’s focus on government initiatives such as Digital India to ensure maximum positive impact on the community it operates within.
NextGen spoke to VC Gopalratnam, head of Cisco Civic Council in India and member of Cisco Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Japan and China region, to understand the company’s views on the impact of the law on the Indian CSR landscape as well as Cisco’s initiatives in the local CSR domain.
Welcoming the CSR mandate While the ministry of corporate affairs released the draft rules governing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under the New Companies Act 2013, CSR has long been an important area of focus for Cisco India, thanks to the importance it has been given at the global level. In 2015, Cisco was named in Fortune magazine’s first ever “Change the World” list, which recognises companies that have made significant progress in addressing major social problems as part of their core business strategy.
“The Companies Act was less of a challenge for firms like Cisco that were already very active in CSR in India prior to the law’s enactment,” says Gopalratnam. “The landmark legislation, although a mandate, gives corporates in the country the flexibility to implement activities that fall within their strong-suits. This law has been perceived positively within the organisation as another opportunity to give back to the community.”
Extending the power of global CSR strategies for local impact
As an organisation, Cisco sees digitisation as a powerful enabler of change when it comes to solving some of the world’s most pressing problems. The company states that its CSR vision is ‘to empower people and societies to thrive in this new digitised economy to create exponential social, environmental, and business impact’. Given this goal, at a global level, Cisco has identified five focus areas to function as core pillars of their CSR strategy: Governance and Ethics, Our People, Society, Environment, and Supply Chain. In India, the company’s CSR initiatives are focussed on three core areas: