Building India’s Social Infrastructure through Inclusive Development
R Shankar Raman, Whole-time Director & Chief Financial Officer, Larsen & Toubro, shares an insight into the company's CSR policy
Both the company and the community benefit from CSR initiatives. Do you subscribe to this?
L&T has been engaged in community development, since long before the term CSR was coined or the Companies Act was introduced. In the initial days, the responses were based directly on the needs of the community. Thus, community development of surrounding areas has been an intrinsic part of the organisational value system at L&T. Community is the primary beneficiary in CSR activities. Of course, beneficiary might not be the right term to use, in the strictest sense of the term, when it comes to L&T's underlying intent of CSR, which looks at empowering communities rather than providing charity. But yes, on a larger canvas, both the company and community benefit from CSR initiatives. Health interventions, which are unrelated to the business at L&T, provide basic amenities in health to communities. Skill development initiatives, aligned to the business of L&T, provide skill-sets to youth and thus help in providing a skilled workforce.
Can you discuss your company's CSR journey?
L&T has been working in the social sphere actively since long before the Companies Act came in. However, the company re-aligned its interventions in the social space in line with the revised Companies Act 2013. The company constituted a Board-level 'CSR Committee' in 2014, and revised its existing Corporate Social Responsibility Policy. Drawing inputs from our community interaction teams and guided by the senior management as well as the CSR Committee, we formulated a theme that best reflected our integrated approach to community development, viz., 'Building India's Social Infrastructure'. In FY 2016-17, L&T positively impacted the lives of over 6,40,000 people through community development programmes, covering health, education, skill-building, and water and sanitation.
What are the key focus areas for your company's CSR projects?
CSR at L&T highlights the company's efforts to contribute to a better quality of life and mitigate social inequities. Four thrust areas for CSR are water & sanitation, education, health and skill building, which have been formed keeping in mind national priorities. L&T takes up social and community responsibilities in every sphere and sector that it operates. L&T has been involved in health and education interventions traditionally. They are aligned to the developmental needs of the nation.
What is the implementation method of CSR at your company?
CSR programmes are formulated in line with the requirement of that particular community or place. Implementation of CSR projects is either directly or through supporting organisations like NGOs. In large-scale projects where implementation is through partners, L&T provides proper monitoring and necessary resources.
What is your CSR team's strength?
At L&T there are dedicated teams to implement CSR initiatives and also encourage employees in all businesses to participate in these initiatives through 'L&Teering'- our employee volunteer programme. As a company spread out across the country, with our businesses reaching out to the remotest locations, we have a nation-wide footprint. Developing strong partnerships with local communities enables us to facilitate solutions that are local. Hence, at L&T, there is a professional and impact-based approach to development.
Are there any programmes in the world of CSR that you think are spectacularly awesome?
One particular programmes might be difficult to highlight. But in general, the CSR programs of Tata trusts are pioneering. Among the programmes undertaken at L&T, the Construction Skills Training Institute. It can be highlighted as a spectacular programme. As a developing country with a high growth rate, the demand for skilled labour is high. On the other hand, there is a burgeoning population of unskilled migrant workers entering into the informal sector. The lack of skill-sets hampers their entry into the skilled labour market. Our CSTI programme bridges the gap.