Meeting Recap: Interview with Richa Gautam

SAI Advisory Board Meeting - Spring 2010

May 2010

Richa Gautam participated in SAI's Spring 2010 Advisory Board meeting as an observer, and currently serves as a consultant to the IICA-GTZ CSR Initiative.

What are some of your key takeaways from the meeting?

I think for me it was very useful to see SAI as an organisation from the inside, to understand more of the dynamics and the basis for its priorities. The Board was very forthcoming in what they saw as SAI's role in the PPP and in India, which will also be useful in shaping the PPP. I was really impressed by the diversity of the board - not only in terms of gender and national origin, but diversity in expertise that greatly contributed to the discussions around the table.

What are some of the core concepts of the upcoming PPP project?

The main positive aspect is the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform, especially on the social side of CSR. There is an easy argument to be made for businesses, especially SMEs, to improve their environmental performance-- for instance, the energy savings argument immediately translates also into cost savings. However, the social side is less focused upon and the core value of the PPP lies in squarely addressing improvement in the social performance of businesses. 
 
What are your thoughts on this new PPP, and speculations on the potential impact it might have in India?

Although several companies in India have a rich history of CSR, this is largely confined to the creamy layer of Indian businesses, with smaller businesses often not having the resources to inform themselves about improvements in environmental and social performance, and that of their suppliers. One of the objectives of the PPP is to bridge this gap and create new models for CSR consulting and training that are affordable for smaller businesses-- in this lies its true value. The CSR Expertise Centre should be established in a way that it can sustainably meet this need in India.