India Inc is taking its corporate social responsibility (CSR) seriously and woman executives are leading the change.
In 2018-19, around 76% of the top 100 Indian-origin companies by market capitalisation (N100) spent more than the legally-mandated amount on CSR, according to a recent report by KPMG.
Around 62% of these companies have a woman member on their CSR committees, according to KPMG’s India CSR survey report 2019. All non-Indian-origin firms have at least one woman member on the committee.
Moreover, the CSR committees of over a third of N100 companies were led by women in 2018-19.
“The expenditure of companies where a woman is the chairperson of the CSR committee towards ‘reducing inequality’ has increased from 14% in 2016-17 to 42% in 2018-19. This is an illustration of ‘gender budgeting’ being core to such companies’ philosophy on CSR,” said Santhosh Jayaram, partner and head, sustainability and CSR advisory, KPMG India
The findings are based on CSR disclosures made by N100 firms, under India’s Companies Act. The Act mandates that large companies must spend at least 2% of their three-year average net profit on CSR activities.
CEOs are now members of the CSR committees of almost two-thirds of N100 companies, according to KPMG.
During 2018-19, upto 15% of N100 Indian companies had five or more CSR committee meetings and 52% met more than twice a year. “This clearly indicates that CSR has traction at the board level. This also shows the company board has a clear mandate and expectation from the CSR committee, which demands meeting more frequently,” the survey said.
The cumulative CSR expenditure by N100 companies between 2014-15 and 2018-19 stood at Rs35,077 crore ($48.95 billion), the KPMG report stated. Education continues to be the top priority.
Such expenditure on education rose 122% from Rs1,249 crore in 2014-15 to Rs2,774.8 crore in 2018-19. Spends on art & culture fell significantly from Rs279 crore in 2017-18 to Rs78.4 crore last year.