A couple or more days ago, based on a few unjustifiable
statements and unwise calculations, a couple of leading dailies published news
claiming 50,000 jobs would be created by the new mandate on corporate social
responsibility (CSR). The news claimed that the new CSR law, applicable to
about 8,500 companies, would create demand for about 50,000 CSR
professionals.

The news further maintained that to meet this demand
and to avoid poaching of professionals from non-government organizations
(NGOs), a fresh lot of professionals would have to be trained in CSR.

The statements that prompted a news agency journo to
create such news were discussed at a human resource-focused event that included
participants from corporate groups, NGOs and recruitment agencies as well as
representatives from the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) – the
government-supported body set up to ensure good governance.

However, while the approximate number of jobs looks whopping
and promising, a logical analysis of the facts tells that the news was either
misreported or thoughtfully planted. Here are a few quick facts to ponder upon.

1.The news
claimed that each company falling in the ambit of the CSR law will need four to
five CSR professionals to comply with the law and manage CSR programmes and
reporting. This cannot be the case because

a) Firstly, the governing council
or the committee that has to oversee CSR activities of the company has to be
the top management including the chairman and the independent director of the
company. So there need not be a ‘level
1’ position exclusively for CSR.

b) Secondly, the company is a business-focused, profit-making entity and
does NOT have to ‘employ’ new development professionals.
It can do with
imparting ‘focused CSR’ training to its existing task force – comprising HR,
marketing and communication professionals – primarily in the basics of CSR and
its implementation strategy. The team only needs to engage in getting the
programme implemented through an experienced third party – be it an NGO, a
group of volunteers, or social entrepreneurs – and ensure that the implementing
agency operates professionally and effectively and generates maximum‘value’ out of the CSR programme, for the
company as well as the end beneficiaries of the programme.

Considering that the existing taskforce with
fundamental training and ‘common sense’ can execute the company’s CSR more
efficiently, why hire inexperienced CSR degree holders or even poach hardcore
NGO professionals with more focus on feeding the hungry than enabling them to
earn their food?

2. A CSR
professional cannot be created in a CSR school but in a corporate house that
engages in social and responsible activities.
The CSR professional is an
individual with a business mind and a social heart – an individual who can
ensure that most of the CSR programmes of the company are making an impact on
the ground and not just in the books, and also have the ability to become self-sustaining
over a period of time.

The professional has to understand how CSR reporting
cannot be just financial but must also be narrative. The CSR talent needs to be
nurtured within the corporate house, among communication, marketing, human
resource and ‘relations’ departments, not in study centres with teachers and
trainers. Hence, those effective in their CSR jobs will not be the ones with
degrees or diplomas in CSR, but those who specialize in marketing or human
resource or communications and public/internal relations as well as corporate
affairs – and possess fundamental understanding of CSR ‘strategy’ as also the
new law.

3. If you Google on the newest initiatives of the
Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, you will get to know that the institute
is partnering small and medium educational institutions, training centres and
other similar entities for them to get affiliation of IICA to impart diploma
and degree courses in CSR. And to
promote these affiliations and lure people into doing these courses, IICA will
have to create hype around the job prospects in CSR – and this whopping 50,000
jobs figure seems like a first step towards the needed hype.