"We'll expand our realm of doing good to the society"
Akito Tachibana, Managing Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Limited, stresses that the businesses need to take CSR as a responsibility to give it back to the society, regardless of whether they make profit or not.
Both the company and the community benefit from CSR initiatives. Do you subscribe to this?
Toyota Kirloskar Motor exists as a business factor and also a member of the society. Although business and CSR are two different aspects but still we consider both the aspects same. In CSR, we are focusing on activities like road safety, education and environment. In the field of skill development, Toyota Technical Education Programme [TTEP] that focuses not only on technical education, but also on the dealer management. We have a lot of programmes on skill development; we utilise them for in-house training of our employees and business partners development, and now we're extending these skills for the benefits of the society through our programmes like Toyota Technical Education Programme and Toyota Technical Training Institute. As far as health and hygiene are concerned, these are fundamental issues. We make sure we have a safe and healthy working place/environment. Our CSR ideology works on two principles: 'How to utilise' and 'how to optimise'. We need to maximise our effectiveness as much as possible, and we're looking at sustainability and impact-oriented approach.
Can you elaborate on the CSR approach adopted in the company?
We are still learning and evolving interms of implementing the CSR programmes. We will always ensure the programmes are effective and reach the right beneficiaries. For example, if the distance of the project location is too far, then the effectiveness of the programme will be minimum. Project site should be closer to the area of operation for easy monitoring, execution and ensure the effectiveness of the programme. We always believe in 'Genchi Genbutsu', which means 'seeing is believing'. Distance matters for effective implementation of any programmes. Wherever we are not able to execute the activity considering the distance, we collaborate with our business partners - dealers and suppliers to implement the CSR programmes.
What is the implementation method of CSR at Toyota?
We apply the same principles in all our functions - setting the process and standardisation, follow kaizen and improve the process. At Toyota, business and non-business are not considered as separate functions. All functions adhere to the same principles: PDCA, standardisation, optimisation and sustainability.
What would be the strength of your CSR team?
Everyone in the team understands our structure. We all know 'what is the most effective way'; 'what is efficient'; 'what is most impactful'; and 'what is the most sustainable'? We don't choose one time /short-term activities, as it will not last for long. Instead, we focus on long-term and sustainable programme. Our team is committed for societal change focusing on impact and sustenance.
Where do you think India stands in CSR? Where is it lacking or progressing?
The big companies have already started CSR work and have had a good result. They are our teachers. Bigger companies have more influential CSR activities. Smaller companies contribute to the society, but because they don't have enough experience and don't have a textbook, they're still struggling to create an impact. Bigger and more experienced companies should instruct and guide smaller companies. That is another effective way to expand CSR activities all over India.
What should the company focus on to ensure quality CSR?
Always consider the purpose of the CSR work. The goal is to give a good quality of life, and if your idea leads to the improvement in quality of life, we choose that idea. Quality of life is our goal, with both our product and our CSR.
Your programme on education of children on road safety for behavioural change is different. And the results will come two generations later. How do you continue investing in such a programme when the practice is not visible immediately?
I think in twenty years, we will find that education is the most effective and efficient way to bring change.
In this whole journey, what was the most gratifying moment?
The smiles of children and villagers have been like petrol for my engine. A smile is the most gratifying experience