We envision a world where improving the life opportunities of disadvantaged people and protecting the environment are recognized and practised as essential parts of doing business.
PiC was established as a Society in 1995 under the Societies Act of 1860 to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India and is amongst the pioneering organizations in India that promoted CSR through partnerships. Our presence in policy spaces, including the role played by us in evolving National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs), have helped promote CSR from a rights-based framework. We assist companies to become partners in development by promoting rights-based partnerships amongst business, disadvantaged communities and the government.
We collaborate with companies, business associations and the government as well as national and international civil society organizations on a wide range of innovative programmes to promote human rights in business.
We work towards strengthening progressive national and international instruments, especially the Constitution of India, NVGs, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our work resonates closely with the SDGs, specifically Goal 8 (Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all) and Goal 12 (Sustainable consumption and production). Most relevant of all is Goal 17, which calls for a revitalisation of the global partnership for sustainable development.
- Building Partnerships for enabling Policy Ecosystem towards Responsible Business
- Promoting Responsible Businesses towards achieving SDGs
- Promoting Responsible Banking and Financing
Building Partnerships to Create An Enabling Policy Ecosystem for Responsible Business
- Promoting UN Guiding Principles and NVGs
Partners in Change (PiC) works towards institutionalizing the nine principles of the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Businesses (NVG), especially the Principle 5 (related to human rights), in the core operations of businesses. It aims to prepare the ground for the Government to evolve the National Action Plan on UN Guiding principles, like a number of other countries, through the development of case studies on human rights and business – in collaboration with academic institutions.
- Promoting Responsible Public Disclosure
As part of an active member of wider civil society networks, the PiC team organizes regular analysis of Business Responsibility Reports submitted by top-500 companies. PiC is also a technical partner for India Responsible Business Forum, co-promoted by Oxfam India. PiC has been instrumental in developing the India Responsible Business Index, and during the year developed and launched the second edition of IRBI report. The report ranks top 100 companies in terms of their commitments towards inclusive business.
Promoting Responsible Business To Achieve Sustainable Development Goals
- Protecting Labour Rights (SDG 8.8): Teaming up with Praxis, PiC worked with businesses in organising human rights due-diligence on labour issues in the workspace of businesses, including their supply chain. It also supports companies in evolving model policies that incorporates core principles of responsible business.
- Ending Child Labour (SDG 8.7): Aligning with the objective of the Government of Rajasthan to address child labour issues, Freedom Fund envisioned a programme to address child labour in Rajasthan. PiC organized a feasibility study from September 2016 to January 2017 to provide insights into the scale, nature, causality and key locations of child trafficking and labour of Rajasthan. It aims at creating interventions to support businesses and associations to address the issues.
- Promoting Responsible Public Procurement (SDG 12.7): SDG target 12.7 states, “Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.” Public procurement, that is, procurement by government/its agencies for their own consumption and not for commercial resale, in India is estimated to be about 30% of the country’s GDP. While public procurement has not yet been widely recognised in India as a driver for responsible sourcing, now that responsible public procurement is gaining prominence in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 12:7), this is an opportune time to leverage the school uniform segment in order to make policy improvements at the government level. Incidentally, there have been efforts to integrate Make In India principle in the public procurement policies. PiC is developing plans to organise programmes and interventions to influence procurement guidelines of the Governments to influence responsible business practices, beginning with garment sector.
- Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Supporting Farmers (SDG 2): PiC provides technical inputs to organisations on agriculture, especially the organic farming practices. PiC has been documenting Agriculture supply chain as part of different studies. It has prepared supply chain documentation for Grapes and Cottonseeds.
- Responsible Pharmaceutical and Health Industry (SDG 3): PiC, in collaboration with the National Foundation of India, has analysed the National Health Policy, 2017 and examined the potential role and extent to which pharmaceutical companies were committed to the principles of responsible business, including the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) which includes professional standards on appropriate relationships between these companies and doctors.
- Community-based monitoring of SDGs: Since June 2016, PiC partnered with IDS, Sussex UK, Praxis and the National Action Group (NAG) on Denotified Tribes to monitor progress vis-à-vis key SDGs. PiC analysed the corporate policies of businesses in the Construction sector, as a substantial workers in the construction industry come from the DNT communities. PiC also co-organized a ground level panel of DNT community members, where they have specific sessions on the role of businesses in their marginalization in the economic domain.
- Linking CSR with different SDGs: PiC partnered with Birla Institute of Management and Technology (BIMTECH) to facilitate need assessments and situation analyses of communities in 18 locations in Wadi district of Karnataka and Chandrapur and Yavatmal districts of Maharashtra on ACC’s community development initiatives in livelihoods, education, health, water and sanitation and infrastructure, and to inform future work in CSR (in accordance with the Companies Act 1956).
Key Projects and Partnerships
Towards Child Labour-free School Uniforms
The project aims to work towards reducing the incidence of child labour in the apparel supply chain in India by creating an enabling environment of informed demand by school children for child labour free school uniforms and responsible public procurement of school uniforms which promotes responsible production across the value chain. By reaching over 10,000 children in 100 schools in Delhi, the project will engage children through innovative modules and curriculum on the concept and goal of child labour free uniforms. The project seeks to identify child champions from among these children, who will be provided with extended intensive support, designed to enable them to be (i) spokespersons about issues of child rights, child labour, and responsible consumption and production, specifically in relation to school uniforms; (ii) conscious of steps that can be taken to promote responsible consumption and production; (iii) confident about and motivated by the prospect of speaking out on these matters, in public and formal spaces, including within their school communities, among businesses, among other decision-makers, industry, associations, and government stakeholders.
Socio-Economic Inclusion of Marginalized Communities by Empowering Micro Level Institutions Actively Working with Various Institutions
Krishnagiri Development Project (KDP) is a holistic community development initiative supported by Faizal and Shabana Foundation in Ennegollu Panchayat (covering 8 villages) for five years between 2015 and 2020. The thrust areas of the project are (i) Social and economic well being, (ii) Exposure to sustainable agriculture and food security, and (iii) Interface with various players and coordination. Development Promotion Group (DPG) implemented the first phase of the project from September 2015 to October 2018 and the second phase of the project is being implemented by PIC from November 2018 until December 2020. The project in the year 2019, post-transition of the project from DPG (in Nov. Dec. 2018), swiftly put together a new KDP project team and enabled functioning and smooth take-off of the project activities. The project in continuation to the ongoing activities, planned and intensified the modus operandi with a holistic approach of activities viz., (i) including and engaging the community at a larger level, (ii) intensifying natural farming practices, (iii) creating sustainable collectives; farm and non-farm based activities; business models; benefitting the target group by and large.
Empowering Workers to Reduce Prevalence of Forced Labour in Garment Spinning Mills
The project aims to engage with community members from 20 villages in Dindigul District to reduce the number of individuals entering conditions of bonded labour and exploitation in the spinning mills, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and vulnerable populations such as migrant workers. Dindigul is the spinning mill hub in the state and there are many big and medium-sized mills in and around the Sanarpatti Block. Tens of thousands of girls and young women have been recruited into employment schemes in the textile industry that result in forced labour, excessive hours of work and extremely low pay often leading to appalling effects on their mental and physical health. The project through positive interventions, including collectivization, access to government schemes and programmes focuses on reaching out to adolescent girls and boys working in mills and strengthening the community support groups.
Child Labour Free Jaipur
PiC is involved with Child Labour Free Jaipur Initiative since 2017 when the initial mapping of child trafficking and bonded labour situation in Rajasthan was carried out in the form of a feasibility study, which informed the CLFJ strategy. Later on, as the programme implementation was initiated in Jaipur, PiC collaborated with its partners Praxis – Institute for Participatory Practices and Labour Education and Development Society (LEDS) in providing technical as well as knowledge support in the neighbourhood mobilisation component of the larger Child Labour Free Jaipur programme. During the phase, PiC is working on (i) Focused community engagement against Child Labour, (ii) Strengthening of the Educational system through engagement with institutions, SMCs, and (iii) Linking with government schemes and monitoring the progress of such linkages. Through this, the project would work towards sensitising the community towards the cause of child labour, and organize communities to take action against employers of child labour and traffickers.
Socio-Economic Development of the Sabar De-notified and Nomic Community
PiC, since 2019, has been working with the Sabar community in Purulia to capacitate them through educational programmes for children, including community learning centers, enrolment drives, etc, and enabling community artisans to access government schemes like artisan cards. A handicraft association has also been set-up to facilitate direct market linkages and assist the artisans who are unable to sell products, by providing them a platform to sell their products. To provide more cohesiveness to the community, PiC also supported in the development of Paschim Banga Kheria Sabar Kalyan Samiti, a community-based organisation working at the local level on issues facing the community.
Promoting Responsible Finance
PiC, in partnership with Oxfam, brought together stakeholders from the banking sector, business, management schools and civil society to explore issues of responsible banking and finance in India, and conduct research into the policy commitments of financial institutions. As part of this, PiC led an effort to pilot the applicability of a set of guidelines, known as the Fair Finance Guide (FFG), in the Indian context.
Policies of eight Indian Private and Public Sector Banks were assessed on 10 themes across ESG parameters such as environment, labour rights, human rights, gender equality, arms, corruption, transparency and accountability. The assessment served as a baseline to enable the Indian banking sector to prepare itself for facing and addressing challenges around sustainability and responsible financing; and provide an opportunity for Indian banks to assume the leader’s role in transforming the Indian banking sector to set a benchmark for sustainable, responsible and fair finance.
Supporting the NHRC with Information on Marginalised Workers and Communities
In order to build research-based evidence to understand and identify human rights violations by businesses, PiC conducted a comprehensive secondary research for the NHRC on 5 publicly available company cases in the domain of accountability, labour rights, gender welfare, employees’ well-being and consumer value, to understand the response systems companies have for grievance redressal pertaining to these issues. The cases and violations, were studied from the lens of how the companies addressed and disclosed the issue in the public domain. This study can be used by the state, non-state actors and corporates for mobilising efforts to institutionalise systems to address issues faced within and outside the workspace by the companies.
Incorporating voices of the marginalised communities into the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
In February 2019, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), Government on India, launched the Zero Draft of National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP), demonstrating its commitment towards integrating human rights in business practices. The MCA invited comments and
discussions around this elaborate document to ensure the plan well captures the
uniqueness of India’s situation and the challenges facing it. Taking cognizance of this distinctive opportunity, PiC held more than 22 consultations and workshops to collate the voices of businesses, communities, Government functionaries, trade unions, civil societies, academic institutions and students to sensitise and empower them about the significance of Human Rights in Business and the NAP process, and to ensure that the unheard voices find the right platform for visibilising their issues.