Local people have a stake in both the process and impacts of business and are due consultation during the planning and assessment of business activity. Often the most important stakeholders of business are seen to be the workers, and the shareholders, and the consumers. And the bottom line of business, it is conventionally argued, is to make money, not achieve social or environmental goals.
However, business in India is not outside the constitution or of democratic principles. As such, corporations in India have a duty to consider whether, and if so, how, their activities impact people, and then take steps to ensure that these impacts have the informed consent of concerned individuals and communities. Not to do so is to violate the principle of democratic rule.
A core objective of the 2011 National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs) was to encourage businesses to be more ethical and responsible to all stakeholders. Of the nine principles of the NVGs, three directly talk about the community as a business stakeholder. These are Principles 4, 5 and 8 of the NVGs that call for business to be responsive to the interests of all stakeholders, especially those who are marginalised; respect and promotion of human rights and; promotion of inclusive growth and equitable development.
The NVGs formed the basis of a recent Index on company disclosures on social inclusion, called the India Responsible Business Index. PIC supported the development of this index and the report on Index findings, called Making Growth Inclusive: Analysing Inclusive Policies, Disclosures and Mechanisms of Top 100 Companies.
The report brought to light self-disclosed company data that indicated that a good share of companies acknowledge their careful use of local resources, with 27 recognising this in policy and 36 providing a system to enforce this.
- A needs assessment with various stakeholders was conducted in conjunction with TATA Housing for its corporate sustainability and community initiatives (2012). It raised different kinds of issues and concerns, especially those faced by more marginalized community members such as migrant families and Dalits.
- In collaboration with Change Alliance, capacity building of NGO-supported enterprises and establishing market linkages to promote affirmative action by companies (2013)
- Co-created the India Responsible Business Index (2015) and played a crucial role in the generation of the report Making Growth Inclusive: Analysing Inclusive Policies, Disclosures and Mechanisms of Top 100 Companies (2015)
- Developed a toolkit, Measuring Commitment to Responsible Business (2015), enabling the participation of people within and outside companies