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CSR in the Times of Pandemic: What Tech Leaders are Saying

The pandemic has brought about several shifts in the way companies work on their Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR programs.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been evolving ever since India became the first country in the world to legally mandate it in 2014. The global pandemic has brought about several shifts in the way companies work on their CSR programs. This year, several social and environmental changes, coupled with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, set the stage for major shifts in the way companies look at social responsibility and work with the social sector.

We have spoken to senior leaders from some of the leading technology companies that are working proactively for the public since the outbreak of the pandemic. Many of them are providing vaccinations, ICUs, oxygen, meals and much more; trying to strike a balance between their traditional social focus areas and the fight against this pandemic. Here’s what these experts have to say.


Sindhu Gangadharan“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to companies directing their CSR efforts and spends to address the devastating impact of the coronavirus. Several companies even tweaked their business models to support the shortage of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and hygiene products. In addition, many organizations joined hands with NGO’s and Government to contribute to the massive relief effort on the ground, offered their solutions and established emergency funds. Employee volunteers strengthened CSR efforts by providing their skills and time for relief measures.

SAP India continues to work closely with non-profit organizations and strategic partners. We augment public health and healthcare infrastructure, offer preventative care measures and home care support for citizens, and conduct awareness and sensitization campaigns for COVID-19 vaccination.  In addition, we are providing laptops to students in Government schools and virtually engaging with students through our 1000 plus Code Unnati training centres and providing skill development training to women of rural Karnataka in partnership with the Government and UNDP. During the second wave of the virus, we also augmented public hospital infrastructure by providing 200-bed critical care units in Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Delhi. Within the IIT Delhi campus, we set up an oxygen plant and provided oxygen concentrators to the Government of Karnataka and Haryana. SAP has also created a Euro 6 MillionCOVID-19 Emergency Fund.

At SAP, we have a stringent process of monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment to measure the success of our CSR initiatives. We follow the IRIS+ and Log-frame model for Project Monitoring & valuation, Financial Reviews of fund utilization. Every year, we have a significant focus on measuring social return on investment (SROI) for all partnerships, which helps us get insights into fund utilization, project goals achievement/outcome/impact, areas of improvement and overall health of the project.” Sindhu Gangadharan, Sr VP and MD SAP Labs India


 “While CSR has existed for many years, the Covid-19 pandemic has precipitated a world-wide attitudinal shift towards building more responsible businesses moving beyond shareholder value to creating value for all stakeholders including clients, people, shareholders, partners, communities, and the world at large.

The pandemic exposed underlying weaknesses in the ability of countries to cope with large social and health crises and the need to alleviate our overburdened healthcare system, bridge the digital divide to ensure universal access to education and equitable access to work, create social security mechanisms for those working in unorganised sectors of the economy, ensure jobs creation and include the underserved in the digital economy.

At Accenture, we have an abiding commitment to shared success and follow the concept of ‘360° Value’, which that ensures that our work benefits all our stakeholders including our communities. As COVID-19 unfolded, we worked closely with our skilling NGO partners by swiftly repurposing our budgets to complement their on-ground response to the pandemic and also helped them to pivot towards digitalizing the content and virtualize the training delivery.

In May this year, we announced a $25 million commitment for COVID-19 relief efforts in India that includes making investments to augment government-run or charitable hospitals in rural and semi-urban areas with beds, ICUs, critical-care equipment, and setting up oxygen plants.  In addition, we offered sustenance support such as food and rations to the underprivileged and PPE kits to frontline healthcare workers. We actively supported India’s vaccination efforts, targeting segments of the population that are hardest to reach, and building awareness to reduce vaccine hesitancy.

We measure the success of our community efforts through the last-mile impact created. For example, in our Skills to Succeed program, we assess skilling outcomes in terms of the economic impact. For our Covid-19 relief efforts, we ensure that critical care equipment is installed and commissioned, track the distribution of Covid care kits and the number of beneficiaries getting vaccinated, along with a formal acknowledgement and sign-off from the beneficiary hospitals and respective government authorities.” Kshitija Krishnaswamy, Managing Director- Corporate Citizenship, Accenture in India


“It is imperative for us to understand that uplifting communities and providing aid is a key factor in establishing ourselves as an organization with soul. The intention of being socially responsible, sensitive, mindful, empathetic, truly caring, supporting and giving has been seeped into every aspect of our organization. It is not an exclusive compartment to fulfill. This action truly has the potential to grow our country’s economy on a larger scale.

Outside of the pandemic, globally, we have been actively supporting various causes to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the technology sector. The pandemic has proved that human connections need to be nurtured and relied upon. At InMobi, we strongly believe only when we stand beside a person/ community in need and give back to the community, we can make a difference in building a sustainable future.

In the last 12-15 months, our team of 60-70 volunteers worked tirelessly to run the ‘Covid relief program’ successfully in India. It involved, helping provide oxygenation and setting up of a Covid care center, increasing oxygenation capabilities via provision of concentrators, arranging for ambulances, medicines, testing, doctor consultations, hospital beds, distribution of free food, providing emotional and mental well-being through different mechanisms, and arranging for voluntary contributions in terms of meeting basic needs for lesser privileged sections of the society across multiple cities.” – Sahil Mathur, Senior Vice President, HR & Culture, InMobi


saurabh“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered worldwide health, economic, and social disruption that demanded the cooperation and commitment of individuals and corporates to fight against the crisis. Enterprises often discuss their core values and how they prioritise their employees. The pandemic has proved to be the perfect opportunity for them to follow through with that promise and support their employees and society at large.

Intuit is a value driven organization and our ‘We Care and Give Back’ value stems from our culture of being conscious, equitable and committed. This is one of our longest-standing values, which dates to over 35 years of giving back to the community. During the pandemic, Intuit donated to GiveIndia and Akshaya Patra’s Happiness Kit program, both non-profit organisations that were providing hygiene kits and basic necessities to underserved and vulnerable communities, and distributes essential groceries, stationery, and hygiene products respectively. This was done through a donation matching campaign in which employees could contribute to relief efforts and have their contributions matched 2:1 by Intuit.

Additionally, we have the Girl Child Education program which is unique as it aims to create an impact across the lives of girl children by empowering, educating and enabling girls to learn and grow. During the pandemic, we continued our efforts to support the safety of the beneficiaries of our Girl Child Project and arranged for medical kits and grocery kits to the families of the girl children, all in all supporting 173 families. In June, our We Care & Give Back (WCGB) community organised many employee initiatives as part of our ‘Month of Service’ towards Covid-19 relief efforts as well to support our front line workers.

Extending support to the communities around us, not only aligns with our mission of powering prosperity around the world but is also a way to help eliminate stress, as well as help the ecosystem around them.” Saurabh Saxena, Intuit India site Leader and Vice President – Product Development, Intuit


“The pandemic has brought about several shifts in the way companies work on CSR. We have always believed that partnerships can enable faster response to the crisis. 3M India was a part of a few collaborations with other organizations, to augment medical infrastructure for ICUs in Government hospitals.

3M deployed a cooked food and dry rations program to support stranded migrant workers near our manufacturing sites in Pune. We also collaborated with multiple NGO partners to implement a national food and essentials kit distribution program to support vulnerable communities across districts. During the first and second wave, we worked through partnerships to support Government hospitals with medical equipment and also infrastructure to augment ICU capacity in hospitals.

Besides, we continued to support our legacy program of education girl students from primary and secondary schools in remote rural districts in Pune, by providing additional academic support via digital tablets and browser versions to help them continue their learning digitally.

Along with a consortium of partners, we trained over 300 women community health workers under the auspices of the PAHAL healthcare skilling initiative, especially in areas like personal safety, sanitization and hygiene. Finally, we continued to support our annual young innovators challenge program in partnership with CII to support, recognize and promote young scientists and social entrepreneurs.

Companies are measuring impact in terms of reach and beneficiaries for programs. Vulnerability of beneficiaries is another aspect that is considered while evaluating the impact of interventions. Inclusive programs that reach out to marginalized communities enhance the impact of the intervention. For eg: a focused approach to cover people with disabilities, transgender communities etc in community vaccinations ensures that they don’t get left behind.” – Ramesh Ramadurai, Managing Director, 3M India


“As technologists, we have always ensured that technology benefits all of society, toward a more equitable future. However, the pandemic did shift the way we looked at CSR work as a sense of urgency crept into the organizational mandates. It emphatically highlighted areas of basic healthcare and public health infrastructure that need attention. The pandemic has seen us take on the role of long-term partners for causes and to organizations that are close to our focus areas – good health and wellbeing, gender equality, poverty alleviation and climate action.

Thoughtworks prioritized three kinds of projects-to-support during the pandemic. First of all, immediate relief for those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic e.g. relief kits, particularly for marginalized groups such as the Dalit communities, sex workers and people with disabilities. Secondly, infrastructure and capacity building that would build resilience within communities, to weather further waves of the pandemic. For example, we contributed to building a COVID-care center in rural Karnataka since rural areas were likely harder hit and less supported. And last but not the least, supporting vaccination drives for marginalized groups where we worked with the Disability NGO Alliance (DNA) to support their mobilization efforts and ensure vaccination of persons with disabilities (in Bengaluru) on priority.

We have always looked at long term and sustainable positive impact that is measurable over a period of time. Additionally, long term impact also requires long term engagement. We exercise this by working with able partners and motivated communities. An example is our enduring partnership with the Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS) Hospital in Chhattisgarh. While typical COVID-19 relief requirements include material like oxygen cylinders, JSS requested that we contribute towards the salary of 6 trained nursing staff and also motorcycles to help transport patients to and from the hospital. This was in recognition of the lack of geographical connectivity being a serious challenge in the remote areas that JSS served.” Satish Kumar Viswanathan, Head of Social Impact at Thoughtworks India


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