HUMANE CAPITALISM CONCLAVE 2009 REPORT

The Humane Capitalism Conclave was an exciting and soul stirring “3 city participatory conclave” with the best of mentors, speakers and CITIZEN delegates who came in from around the globe to launch the Humane Capitalism movement and announce the ratings for the “100 caring businesses and business leaders”.

To start with we had a little over 300 people (an average of 100 people per city with maximum attendance of over 125 people at Bangalore) comprising of executives, students, academicians, consultants, business leaders, venture capitalists, media professionals, NGO leaders, CSR practitioners and former armed forces personnel and people from business chambers. It was a very interactive session and we received positive response and essential feedback to make “THE OMEGA RATING audit process for the 100 caring businesses and business leaders” better and better. Everyone contributed to the process and agreed that this was a much-needed initiative. The encouraging feedback of Executives attending from organisations like Tata, Microsoft, Yes Bank, Accenture, Fidelity, ITC, Birla Group, Reliance, Rotary International, CII, Deloitte, ICICI, HDFC, Lintas, McKinsey & Co, Fair trade Consortium, Harvard University, Monsanto, Avanthaa Group, and various others including SMEs , was evidence that we had embarked on the right journey and all the feedback has now been woven into the process.

There were many inspiring moments, some very passionate and feisty presentations and speeches from most of our mentors, engaging panel discussions and lively debates that were sparked off from amongst the delegates. To start with it was Ms. Anu Aga who helped us to decide on the nomenclature of HUMANE CAPITALISM and thus mentored us to set the process on the right track. We are very thankful to Anuji for all her support and solidarity and we deem her as our chief mentor for the Humane Capitalism movement.

From the very beginning we were clear that we would not take sponsorships and thus refused a big sponsorship, as we did not agree with the wrong practices of the business and thus improvised to work on limited resources. We are grateful to Lynn D’souza of Lintas media Group and Ashita Mittal, Bidisha Pillai and Neiha Bansal of UNODC for helping us out with timely support.

The Humane Capitalism Conclave is a platform that promotes holistic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The conclave was held in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi on the 22nd, 23rd & 24th January ’09 respectively.

The Conclave in all three cities started with an introductory note by Jeroninio (Jerry) Almeida, the founder of iCONGO where he shared with everyone the concept and purpose of the Conclave and how the name ‘Humane’ Capitalism Conclave came into being. The first key address in Mumbai, on January 22nd, at the St. Xavier’s College, was by Ms. Anu Aga of the Thermax group. Ms. Aga contrasted how Globalisation on one hand had brought the world closer and was responsible for wealth creation but on the other was also responsible for destroying indigenous cultures.

The next speaker was Mr. Rob Dhoble of the Omnicom group who addressed the issue ‘CSR Aligned Brands: engaging the value of the enlightened consumer’ where he stressed on the need for businesses to understand consumers and how because of media and technology the world is more connected than ever before. Ms. Lynn De Souza of the Lintas Media Group spoke about ‘Communicating CSR initiatives to stakeholders and beneficiaries’ and emphasized on ‘Doing good, playing fair and being kind’. She strongly believes that ‘Social causes need time, effort, attitude and commitment much more than funds’.

The next speaker Mr. R.V.Krishnan of the Professionals Party of India (PPI) had a completely different approach to CSR and advocated that ‘Corporate Political Responsibility precedes CSR’. He strongly believed that the root of the problem in India lay in the political governance which needed a reform and corporates need to get politically conscious. Next was the Milk Man of India, Dr. V.Kurein who spoke about AMUL and how it practised CSR and the triple bottom line approach since almost 60years.

The post lunch session consisted of a Panel Discussion on the susceptible issue of ‘Human Trafficking and CSR’. The panel consisted of Mr.Rob Dhoble, Ms. Vandana Shah, an author by profession, Ms. Ashita Mittal of UNODC and Mr. Ram Babu of Cantor CO2e India Pvt Ltd.

Ms. Ashita Mittal threw light on the trade of human trafficking, which is a 32 Billion dollar business today. How men, women and children were exploited not only sexually but had various aspects to it like organ trade, forced labour, etc. Ms. Ashita also emphasized as to how at various levels corporate sector could contribute to the cause, both in cash and kind. Moreover they need to create awareness and frame policies which tackle this sensitive issue while engaging their workforce.

Ms. Vandana Shah had a simplistic and holistic approach to the whole situation. She put forth a very important point, how we as a society need an attitudinal change towards victims of trafficking since there has always been a social stigma attached to it. CSR could help in terms of allocation of human resources and funds.

Mr. Ram Babu advocated that corporates are an extremely important organ of the society and therefore the surplus money generated needs to be utilized to generate values. ‘Corporates are responsible to society and need to demonstrate and prove what they are taking from society and what are they giving in return’.

According to Mr. Rob Dhoble there isn’t really a need for new laws only existing laws to be enforced.

The Conclave held at Christ College, Bangalore on 23rd January had a similar beginning. The first key note address was by Mr. Rob Dhoble on ‘CSR Aligned Brands: engaging the value of the enlightened consumer’. He spoke about brand awareness, building loyalty and advocacy. He disapproved of the present day situation where businesses engage themselves in ‘cheque book giving’ and project themselves as socially responsible. He believes that they need to go beyond and genuinely care for environment, people; society at large and take up initiatives. He said, “Enlightened consumers increasingly define themselves by their consumption, seeking more relevant brands that more genuinely connect with their values. Industry can successfully align its business and its brands with issues that are important to its targeted (enlightened) consumers, driving brand preference and SEE (Society, Environment, Economy) impact’.

The next address was by Mr. Dilip Thakore of Education World on how Indian Capitalism is shooting itself in the foot. He put across his opinion that behavior of capitalism should be intelligent and humane; the system needs a reform to bring about a change in society. According to him ‘the need of the hour is enlightened, compassionate and caring capitalism’.

The next speaker Ms. Pamela Gale Malhotra spoke about 'Protection and Preservation of Planet Earth - the responsibility and role business must play’. “Economic wealth is dependant upon water wealth and ecological wealth”, she said. She explained how all species were interlinked and interdependent and forests were the foundation of pyramid life. Her presentation stressed on the immediate need to protect and preserve the planet. Some of the facts shared by her included things like “ While financial sector losses = $1 trillion US dollars by Nov 2008, Natural capital losses = $2 to $ 5 trillion dollars every year due to deforestation alone”.

Lunch was followed by a panel discussion on ‘CSR and Green India’. The panel consisted of Mr. Rob Dhoble, Ms. Pamela Gale Malhotra, Mr. R.K Mishra of Change India and Mr. Darshan of Deccan Chronicle. The main outcome of the discussion was the call for citizens to take up social responsibility and act accordingly to bring about a change. The catch line of the whole discussion was DO SOMETHING; ‘Its not over, no its never too late, lets do something.’

The last Conclave of the series was held at Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon on 24th January. Following Mr. Yusuf’s views on the need to understand CSR and how wrong CSR could actually harm the brand, Mr. Jay Sehgal of Sehgal Foundation spoke about CSR and the role it should play in creating awareness to preserve natural resources. He shared how Sehgal Foundation has made its office in Gurgaon independent of the local supply agencies, with its own water harvesting plant and solar energy plant.

Mr. Christopher Doyle of The Economist Intelligence Unit believed that different organizations interpret CSR in different ways; how corporates today focused primarily on maximising profits and neglected their social responsibilities. He said, “economic growth, and consequently, social welfare (at least to some extent), depends on how well the owners of capital do.If they do well, then there is, or at least should be, according to classical theories of capitalism, prosperity, employment and other benefits to society, to the other class that works for the owners of capital. If it does not, then, as we can see today, there is an adverse impact on society in general.”

Mr. Rajan R Gandhi of SAG stressed on the fact that how the focal point of all businesses is the consumer and that consumer satisfaction would also include how the business treats the environment around it and what it gives back to the society viz. the consumer.

Prof. Baxi of MDI was the last speaker before the Panel discussion on ‘CSR and Communications: Creating Partnerships for Sustainable Development’ started. The panelists were Mr. Amit Shahi (Idea Works), Ms. Rita Soni (Yes Bank), Yogesh Kocchar (Tata Teleservices), Rajeev Dubey (Business World) and Prof. Ashok Kapoor (MDI).

All the three Conclaves came to an end with a long interactive session between the speakers and audience and the Launch of ‘The Omega Rating for 100 caring businesses and business leaders in India’. The process was unveiled by Grant Thornton in all the three cities. ‘Doing well (making profits) and doing good (CSR) are not mutually exclusive but mutually re-inforcive’ is the ideology this concept is based on. This rating is different from other ratings over the world since it does not list the world’s wealthiest or most powerful individuals or organisations rather it is a list of the people who have used their wealth, power and influence to promote social equity.

The highlight of the conclaves was that 2 of our eminent speakers “Rob Dhoble from Omnicom and “Christopher Doyle from Economist Intelligence Unit) have written to us that they are inspired to write books related to Humane Capitalism after the conclave and Vandana shah wrote a touching feature on trafficking for the UN.

We also received huge media support worth over 40 lakhs in print media and priceless support from electronic media with interviews, panel discussions and a capsule of the conclave. Some companies have already approached us and want to be a part of the list. Another inspiring moment is that through the US India Business Alliance the Humane Capitalism movement has triggered off a round table with Kennedy School of government, Harvard University on “Corporate Governance – Restoring the trust” in association with the department of commerce – USA and the Ministry of Corporate affairs- India.

As you may know we consciously went away from the word responsible to “caring” as we feel that businesses and business leaders shall truly be a holistic business and “intrinsically responsible” if they also start caring towards meeting the social and environmental bottom-line like they aggressively target the financial bottom-line.

The list of 100 caring businesses and business leaders shall not focus on market cap, wealth, influence or power of a business but shall focus on how involved the business is towards achieving the triple bottom-line with equal enthusiasm for the environmental and social bottom-line. After the 3 forums we also decided with the participating citizens to have 25th march every year as the “Humane Capitalism Day”, as a week before the financial year closing we shall announce the list and the social and environmental bottom line impact.

Plan going ahead

From now to the year end, we focus on finding the 100 caring businesses and business leaders through the process we created and with help from all of you as mentors and nominators. The list shall be announced on the 1st Humane capitalism day on 25th March, 2010 at a large public gathering in Delhi and all 100 businesses shall be awarded a “Karmaveer Humane Capitalism Crystal Plaque” and citation that shall be given by a veteran statesman and senior bureaucrat from the Ministry of Corporate affairs.

  • The list shall be announced at a press conference on the same day.
  • The lists shall be announced on iCONGO websites and other partner and co-promoter websites.
  • The list and business profiles shall be announced in a special edition booklet distributed by Financial Chronicle, Deccan Chronicle and International Herald Tribune.
  • The list shall be announced in Financial Chronicle & Deccan Chronicle.
  • The list shall be announced in Business World.
  • The list shall be announced on Business News channels.
  • The list shall be announced on facebook, twitter and other popular networking websites.
  • Penguin shall be publish a special edition collectors book on the 100 caring businesses and business leaders
  • 10 out of the 100 businesses and business leaders shall be nominated for the coveted Karmaveer Puraskaar - national awards for social justice & citizen action and 3 business leader and CSR head shall be chosen as the noble laureates in 2010. All nominees for the awards shall be judged on the basis of a 500 word essay on "How businesses and business leaders can help to tackle and eradicate trafficking"

The above mentioned is the recognition and rewards that businesses shall receive for being chosen for the 100 caring businesses and business leaders list.

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