Reshaping of CSR in India During COVID-19 | Abida Aneez | Vice President – CSR | Legrand India

abidaThe COVID-19 pandemic has brought CSR to the forefront. Corporates, both large and small, headquartered in India or abroad, have risen to the challenge and augmented the government’s efforts by re-orienting their CSR strategies.

The pandemic impacted not only the course of business but also the CSR landscape, which had to adapt to the need of the hour. Corporates came forward and didn’t hesitate to reroute and diversify funds. Support for the crisis was a joint effort by governments, individuals, and companies. During a period of uncertainty and fear, corporate responsibility reformed its strategy to offer society much-needed support.

The nondiscriminating nature of the virus has brought on the realization that irrespective of a company’s industry, area of operation, or brand value, community wellbeing is the most valuable asset. Held socially accountable, companies contributed every step of the way to; makeshift hospitals, covid care centers, research for vaccinations, quarantine measures, and vaccination drives for employees, families, and the wider community.

The earlier concentration of social responsibility on education, skill development, labor, and environment was made secondary and put on hold due to the lockdown. Traditional focus areas took a backpedal as people’s health came first. Priority for Covid support was exemplified at the company level and on a regulatory level by the issue of government circulars. The nature of CSR underwent a significant change, as the nation came forward requesting corporates to contribute. In March 2020, the government announced spending on COVID-19 management as an eligible CSR activity.

During extended lock-down period, procurement and delivery of medical supplies posed a challenge. However, companies ensured a steady supply of masks and personal protective gear to frontline workers, hospitals, and NGOs. As part of CSR activities, they extended aid to quarantine facilities & COVID care centers across the country with required medical infrastructure.

Legrand dispensed around 30% of its total CSR fund towards COVID-19 in 2020 & 2021. During the first wave, the protection of people at the frontline (police, journalists, health workers) and the community of doctors was essential. We had distributed PPE kits, sanitizers, and protective gear to aid their safety. Recognizing the adverse impact of the lockdown on migrant workers, supply of provision kits and ration were made available to them, along with COVID awareness campaigns. The second wave saw a heavy hit on the Indian healthcare system. Our actions continued with oxygen support (concentrators, generators, cylinders) and life-saving medical equipment to hospitals, further contributing towards community vaccination across cities.

The virus created a disaster, unlike one the world had never seen before. For the CSR realm, it was a unifying phenomenon. All companies rose to the occasion, heeded the nation’s call, and joined hands to take any step necessary to mitigate the crisis.

As for Legrand, our telemedicine center and ongoing community vaccination drive are just a few of the many measures we have. Like the rest of the companies awakening after Covid-19, we too are committed to more fair and inclusive community wellness in the future.

It is hoped that the same zeal and mission mode orientation carries over to activities beyond the pandemic.