Thursday, July 3, 2008

Please tell me if I am ethical?

(This article has originally appeared at MSN India website)

Have you thought about this question, once or often? If yes then what follows may make sense to you.

I hear people saying that they are socially responsible. They support community causes, volunteer and campaign for them. My question to them often is "Are you ethical ?" Since being ethical is an integral part of being socially responsible.

Now the question of being ethical can be baffling. I am sure it baffles you. It certainly baffles me.

The reason is that the word Ethics in itself is so flexible. Infact Ethics is your ethics like myMSN page.

Ethics is your belief about what you think is right or wrong? Right or wrong is further dependent on your personal experience, education, family and religious backgrounds.

Then how do I know I am ethical?
The key here is to demonstrate Integrity to your beliefs. If you do that then you are ethical.

An honest answer (and not a survey-monkey response) to 4 key questions may help you in knowing that:

1. Do you make decisions based on what is good for greatest number of people?

2. Do you promote individual self-interest as long as it does not harm others?

3. Do you make decisions with a belief that everyone has a fundamental right that should be respected and protected?

4. Do you make decisions that treat everyone fairly and consistently?

The debate on ethics can be intense whenever done. What the above does is provide a simplified check-list for people who want to be ethical and hence socially responsible.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do You Know Your Social Responsibility?

(This article originally appeared at MSN India website)

Increasingly, Individual Social Responsibility, ISR for short, is finding takers like CSR, the much talked about corporate variant.

An Internet search will show several people talking about ISR. But how does one practice ISR? In other words what do you do to fulfill your Social Responsibility.
Is it only about donating to a cause of social importance? Yes it is partly, but not fully. ISR also means your contribution as an activist, campaigner, volunteer in taking up and supporting causes outside your personal sphere.
If you are doing the above you are fulfilling your social responsibility to an extent. Wait there is more.
Here comes the most difficult part. Are you ethical, honest and display integrity in all your actions that affect the community?
True, there is no perfect human being, but the challenge is to be as Socially Responsible one can. Believe me it is infectious. Small efforts can become Everestine.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lots of people in India are already talking ISR

ISR has been on the minds of people from different walks of life for a while now. A look at their views is a definite revelation in the process of defining ISR. Please go on to read the 7 view points that are interestingly so similar.

1. "India is happening....(one of the) 5 worry lines that concern (me) is needless CSR. ISR or Individual Social Responsibility, is a much better way of giving back to the community. Get employees to go to the field and work with NGO’s. Time, not money is needed". Harish Bijoor, “Bharat - Ek Sach…What is Real India?”, “The Horizons ’07 Blog”, IIM-K’s Annual Management Conclave. For complete reference

2. "Yet, I intensely admire individuals who engage in philanthropy. I was deeply moved by Warren Buffet’s selfless gesture when he gave away all his wealth to Bill Gates’ foundation. I agree with Andrew Carnegie that to die rich is to die disgraced. If it is immoral to spend the company’s money, it is businessmen’s duty to spend their own money on charity (from after-tax profits). It is a theft against Reliance’s shareholders if Reliance Industries builds a hospital, but it is Mukesh Ambani’s duty to do so. Hence, Tatas do their charity work through their trusts, from dividends received from Tata companies. CSR should thus be relabelled ISR, Individual Social Responsibility, and each of us ought to feel the need to give back".Gurcharan Das in “Private virtue, public vice”, Times of India, December 17, 2006. For complete reference

3."These are the self-actualising consumers who like to think that the product they drink is politically correct and that their contributions to the brand actually help contribute at large to the society they live in. This is vicarious Individual Social Responsibility (what I call ISR activity). Indirect social responsibility activity, even! This is quite like indirect taxation". Rohit Balakumar in “Being responsible vicariously”. For complete reference

4."Now, what could be the first commitment one can make under ISR? A very simple one! One need not throw money (pick up the coconut). It must be the commitment of demonstrating one’s integrity and honesty in every walks of life and being not very selfish! This is something which is absolutely in one’s hand and one need not look out on external materiallistic things on which we do not have any control. There cannot be a greater commitment and contribution to the society by an individual than this little one as Individual Social Responsibility! Once this basic commitment is fulfilled, then, perhaps an individual can think of higher commitments and then go on to the commitment of corporate social responsibility. If the ISR becomes a way of life, then perhaps, there would be hardly any need for CSR, because by fulfilling the commitments of ISR, every part of the society, including the corporate would have made a strong foundation on which the whole society operate in a much better way". Suresh Govindarajan in “Individual Social Responsibility”. For complete reference

5."Today, we are all talking about Corporate Social Responsibility. We need to start thinking about ISR - Individual Social Responsibility. CSR refers to an organization's responsibility to give back to the society. What about that of an individual? Though every citizen has a social responsibility to his fellow human being, the society, the country, we have conveniently forgotten it. Government is responsible but only in part. The major slice of the responsibility lies on us, the citizens".
Shravan Kumar, “Why only CSR, why not ISR?- Individual Social Responsibility”, in MSN India, Saturday, May 31, 2008. For complete reference

6."We all blame politicians for the pathetic conditions of India. To a certain extent that is true. But, what about the individual social responsibility? The individual life is complete only, if you fullfil all the 4 roles- Personal, Professional, Family and Social. Most of us do our duties ok in the first 3 areas. But, we neglect the 4th one. Why? We all need to question ourselves. We are all too selfish to think about or do good for others. We do good only for fame or sense gratification. We suffer because of this. We are all greedy about making more money, investing in stocks, career growth etc., we don't devote any time for others. There are 10 million rich people in this country. If each one mentors/supports 100 poor/needy people before he die then our country problems will solved. We can solve unemployment, povery, health, literacy etc., issues". Suren Poruri in “Social Responsibility”. For complete reference

7. "All said and done, ISR boils down to identifying day to day activities which could cause marginal if not significant improvement in processes, attitudes, work styles and cultures thereby improving our progress on the growth trajectory and the quality of life in general. If each one of us takes similar initiatives, I believe all of us will benefit in some way or the other. So, what are you waiting for? Have you set your ISR Goals?" Ajay in "ISR . . . The New Reality???". For complete reference