CSR Solidarity Support Towards COVID-19
AMCHAM’s CSR Committee, in partnership with Grant Thornton India, organized ‘CSR Solidarity Support Towards COVID-19’ on June 9th through Webex. Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM India, welcomed participants and provided introductions. Mr. Harish Krishnan, Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC, briefed participants that the committee’s goal was to share best practices, understand and respond to regulations and find ways to collaborate. He talked about ways U.S. companies were addressing humanitarian needs throughout the pandemic and the way forward balancing life and livelihood.
Dr. Madhukar Gupta, Additional Secretary, Government of India, in his remarks, spoke about the need to educate the most vulnerable of society on the dangers of COVID-19. He expounded on how coronavirus has impacted people differently across the globe. The challenge is to prevent people from getting it and them limit mortality as it will be around for a while. Setting up infrastructure and getting the technical tools were important but he encouraged companies to pull in volunteers to connect with communities around their operations. People who contract the virus should not have to hunt for doctors to treat them. He encouraged companies to keep things basic and user-friendly. He also encouraged community engagement before creating strategies.
Mr. Vikas Gambhir, Director, Grant Thornton India LLP, introduced panellists and moderated the discussion with Mr. Amitabh Behar, Chief Executive Officer, Oxfam India, Ms. Nusrat Pathan, Head CSR, HDFC Bank Ltd. and Mr. Rajesh Ayapilla, Director – CSR & Sustainability for India & South West Asia, Coca-Cola. The panel focussed on how organizations have responded supporting their programs with implementing agencies and communities. Panellists touched on the differences between immediate and long-term goals and modifications made to CSR strategy. Some of the new challenges that have been brought to the fore because of the pandemic include mental health, domestic violence and the right to health. Meeting migrant workers’ needs, leveraging existing strategies, budgetary concerns, PM Cares Fund donations, frontline workers and inaccessibility of students to mobiles, were among topics discussed. It was noted that people are still hungry and its difficult to leave the relief stage. New trends that would emerge on program strategy and opportunities for the next 2-3 years were discussed. Speakers agreed many changes were here to stay, things would not go back to the way they were pre-COVID and the focus should be on the human economy.
This webinar was the first in a series to understand where the greatest needs are, how members can learn from practitioners and complement them. AMCHAM thanked the speakers and the Co-Chairpersons of the CSR Committee, Ms. Sangita Ghalay, Head – CSR, Honeywell India and Ms. Kshitija Krishnaswamy, Managing Director – Corporate Citizenship, Accenture Solutions.