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
- 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).
Promoting Responsible Banking and Finance
- PiC, in partnership with Oxfam, NOVIB, 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 fair finance guidelines, known as the Fair Finance Guide, in the Indian context.
- PiC, with technical support from Profundo, assessed the policies of three Indian banks against the international standards and engaged them in discussions around their commitments to responsible finance. PiC was also able to show how the FFG framework is consistent with the National Voluntary Guidelines on responsible business. The project demonstrated a workable process for the Fair Finance Guide in India, leading to knowledge generation on policies and practices, and also development of a long-term strategy on responsible finance.
Key Projects and Partnerships
Knowledge for Change
Today, amidst the clamour for businesses to make profits, economic growth is being widely misconstrued as an intrinsic, rather than an instrumental good. This can have a damaging consequence, whereby people and planet are exploited to promote growth. The sustainable business thus looks at profitability not as an end in itself, but ultimately as a means to a greater end. Locating responsible practice at the centre of business, the aim of the Knowledge for Change initiative is to understand both innovative conceptions of responsible business, and recognise specific business efforts that integrate respect of human rights within their operations and their value chains. Through sharing this knowledge with academic institutions, the aim is to enable its use and uptake in teaching. One of the objectives is to develop course materials of different educational institutions and of training wings of businesses: to better equip future business leaders to respect human rights and ensure their businesses contribute to sustainable development.
Dialogues and Case Studies on Human Rights and Business
In partnership with Ethical Trading Initiative, PiC held a round of multi-stakeholder consultations in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to foster awareness about and discussion of the National Voluntary Guidelines on the Social, Economic and Environmental Responsibilities of Business, especially Principle 5 (Human Rights). The consultations were organized in collaboration with SP Jain Institute of Management Research Mumbai), International Management Institute (Delhi) and Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.
Building on the dialogues, PiC has co-developed a series of case studies on human rights and business, with labour rights in global supply chains a key focus. The studies illustrate ways in which businesses at different levels of the supply chain can, in concert with other stakeholders within the development sector, trade unions and government, work to address and advance human rights of at-risk stakeholders in their local geographies.
Child Labour-free Workspaces
PiC organizes research aimed at providing insights into the scale, nature, causality and regions where the issues of child labour and forced labour are widespread. One such feasibility study focused on the potential role of businesses in Rajasthan in addressing the problem of child labour. The study informed the preliminary interaction and consultations with the Government representatives in relevant departments, a range of civil society organisations working on related issues. Freedom Fund supported the initiative. PiC is carrying on similar research in other states, too.
Disclosures by businesses
Transparency and accountability are core tenets of the National Voluntary Guidelines. Public disclosure is a critical step for any business committed to realizing these responsible business goals and enabling a number of others. In the context of corporations, disclosure is seen as a tool for protecting (i) investors and shareholders by helping them take better capital allocation decisions, (ii) the economy because these better decisions help lower firms’ cost of capital and (iii) democracy because it is a stimulus for transparency and accountability. Corporate Responsibility Watch (CRW), with the support of PiC, has taken the lead in analysing Business Responsibility Reports and other disclosures made by companies through the Disclosure Matters series.
Indian Responsible Business Forum
Through the Disclosure Matters series, Corporate Responsibility Watch and Partners in Change analysed Business Responsibility Reports of companies and evolved an India Responsible Business Index, with support from Oxfam India. The index scans the business environment from an equity lens across five community-focused parameters: Non-discrimination in the workplace, employee well-being, inclusiveness in supply chain, and community affected by business, in addition to community development. The India Responsible Business Forum, of which PiC is a co-initiator with the above-mentioned partners, provides a platform for discussion and engagement around responsible business.
PiC has provided technical inputs to Seven Sisters Development Assistance (SESTA) a NGO working to promote rural livelihood and development in Assam and other areas of the Northeast. In a context of various challenges, including lack of information on agriculture, and poor irrigation facilities, PiC has contributed to the development of agricultural programme including seeding, field preparation, vermibed, composting and improved market linkages. 186 farmers have been reached through the programme across 3 villages in Chirang district, including 100 new farmers.
The Perfamer Project of Tamil Nadu is an innovative initiative to promote sustainable farming through the performing arts. The project, with field sites near Trichy and Madurai, is ongoing, and seeks to impact both rural and urban communities through curricular inputs. Novozymes supported a part of the initiative.
Guidelines for Samsung Electronics Apprenticeship Training in India
PiC developed a framework for apprenticeship management at Samsung Electronics in India, in collaboration with BSR. Through research into national and international best practices and legislation, and consultations with various Samsung staff, including operational staff, PiC developed the Guidelines for Apprenticeship Workers. PiC was able to incorporate important Constitutional and human rights principles, such as non-discrimination and a grievance mechanism. The Guidelines were launched in November 2016. A notable feature of the Guidelines was its extension to Samsung suppliers. PiC facilitated their uptake among suppliers with a training session at Samsung’s Noida plant. The guidelines are available here.
Grapes supply chain in Maharashtra
Praxis and PiC worked on the issue of decent work in supply chain of Grapes, to be sold in Finland under KESKO’s label Pirkka. The analyses of the supply chain took up human rights concerns, particularly the rights of workers as recognised within international frameworks. PiC provided conceptual support on due diligence from a human rights perspective. The assignment was supported by Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK).
Gender and the garment sector
Partners in Change supported Breakthrough India’s inclusive workplace intervention – Streelink – to promote gender justice in the garment sector in Faridabad, Haryana. The study looked at labour practices at two factories of Shahi Exports and interacted with workers and communities from which women workers hailed to understand how to make the workplace more gender-inclusive and to inform Breakthrough’s intervention.