The new Companies Bill 2012 – How does it impact you?

The Companies Act of 1956 will now be replaced by the Companies Bill of 2012, which can also be called The Companies Act 2012. Only the President’s assent is pending for this bill, been pending since 2011 to become a reality. The 309 page document tries to clear a lot of conflict points present in the Companies Act 1956 that have been a pain for companies over time and a reason for a lot of legal cases. So how does it impact corporate India & in general, You? Of particular interest to us is how this Bill/Act will address issues of Governance, Responsibility, Transparency, Diversity, Community and Sustainability. Let me try to dissect a few key changes that this bill aims to bring out in the above areas. This might be a longish post so please pardon me for the lack of brevity. 1. CSR being made close to Mandatory Yes, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not mandatory but the new bill will make sure that companies have to work really …

Why should you embrace Sustainability – Part 2 of 2

This blog post is a continuation from the post I had made previously here where I spoke about how the language of Sustainability is changing. In this post, I focus on some cases where Sustainable practices followed by companies are putting them in good stead while in some cases, how lack of sustainability thinking and planning has risked their revenues and reputation. First, we start with some positive stories. CEMEX – The Patrimonio Hoy Program So when you are a giant construction materials group with over $15 billion in revenues, but seeing a 50% drop in revenues, what do you do? Cemex went back to basics, understood that there is a large market at the bottom of the pyramid in poor people constructing their own homes, and decided to work this market. Integrating sustainability into their core business model, Cemex started a financing program called Patrimonio Hoy. It provided poor people access to building materials (not just cement), financing options to purchase material and technical help through CEMEX team comprising …

SEBI releases FAQs for Business Responsibility Reporting

SEBI, in its circular dated dated August 13, 2012, mandated inclusion of Business Responsibility Report (BRR) as a part of the Annual Report for top 100 listed entities. This was in-line with the ‘National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and  Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs)’ as notified by Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), Govt. of India. While this move was welcomed by the watchdogs, development sector, businesses and shareholders alike, there was confusion for specific cases among the organisations planning to release a report. Based on various queries received from these organisations, SEBI has released this FAQs to provide some answers. You can download the complete document from SEBI’s website here. Summarising the content of the FAQ’s, these are the basic rules/guidelines we can think of to help you file your Business Responsibility Report well: 1. While Business Responsibility Reporting is mandatory for all the top 100 listed companies, other companies are encouraged to report as well. 2. Try to stick to the format prescribed by SEBI. This is to ensure …

Introduction to National Voluntary Guidelines – Business Responsibility Reporting

  Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, in July 2011, came out with the ‘National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business’ – NVGs. SEBI – as a part of its circular on 13th August 2012, makes it mandatory for top 100 BSE and NSE listed companies (as on March 2012) to disclose their Business Responsibility Practices through a report adhering to the NVG framework. Are you on the list? Check here. If you are in the list then read on… Even if you are not, nothing stops you from reporting how responsible you are in conducting your business. So read on in either case… The NVG Framework talks about Sustainability. Govt. of India, through the National Voluntary Guidelines want companies to: Give back something to the society Be responsible Be accountable for its actions and Be sustainable in itself and in the environment it operates in. That’s not much to ask for, is it? Also, NVGs are applicable to all businesses operating in India and …

Nokia Releases 2011 Sustainability Report and New Company Strategy

Source: Triplepundit.com For a long time, whenever I heard the brand name Nokia, only thoughts of virtually indestructible analog cell phones with the Snake game (remember that? hours of entertainment.) came to mind. These days, however, Nokia stands for much much more, especially in terms of its sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. In fact, Nokia has been issuing sustainability reports since 2002, and 2011 marks no difference in that respect. This past year’s report does, however, reflect several monumental changes in the technology company’s strategy towards sustainability and social responsibility. The 2011 report reflects this new strategy within three central pillars: A partnership with Microsoft to deliver industry-leading smartphones using the Windows phone operating system that meet Nokia’s strict environmental requirements. The goal to connect those with limited economic means to the benefits of mobile communications with the February launch of Asha, a range of devices offering consumers smartphone features like touch screen, QWERTY keyboards, and games at lower, more affordable price points. A focus on “future disruptions” – technology, business, and process areas that Nokia …

Can Brands Be Too Big To Do Good?

Source: Fastcoexist In kindergarten we’re all taught to play fair. It’s the golden rule, the ethic of reciprocity: treat others as you would like to be treated. Yet when it comes to the business world, what becomes of this golden rule? The individual rule of “being good to one another” does not have an equivalent proverb when we consider larger human systems, especially in regards to the corporate world. Still, being viewed as “good” is golden. It’s a desirable and elusive status that triggers businesses to invest large amounts of marketing dollars. Yet nobody seems to have successfully branded themselves as a truly good multinational corporation. In which big business do you have 100% faith in long-term social and environmental sustainability commitments? I’ve been quick to sing the praises of smaller businesses that have built “good” into their brand architecture. But it is significantly easier for small to mid-size businesses to understand their social and environmental impacts. Monitoring down-the-line suppliers is, in theory, a more manageable task. The greater question is about …

How Coca-Cola, McDonald’s worked with nonprofits to get greener

Source: Greenbiz Businesses and nonprofits used to have a one-way relationship: Nonprofit asks for donation; business says yes or no. That relationship has evolved dramatically as the two sides found ways to develop mutually beneficial relationships, and — more recently — collaborative partnerships. In this model, the goal is to create shared value. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the environmental and sustainability arena, where conveying and exemplifying true green value has such a critical impact on the triple bottom line. Of course, no single nonprofit, business or group can do it alone. Solving problems requires the strengths, perspectives and talents that each type of organization brings to the table. When we developed our Impact Awards program, for example, our primary focus was to brainstorm with our corporate partners to create online collaborations resulting in compelling and beneficial experiences for their brands, their consumers and the participating nonprofits. True collaboration So what is true collaboration? Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy [TNC] – a founding EarthShare member charity – believes when we move past donating …

Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe

Source: The Scientific American Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm. The issue came replete with technical solutions that ranged from a hydrogen economy to space-based solar. If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science. Since doing that issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the technical details are the easy part. It’s the social engineering that’s the killer. Moon shots and Manhattan Projects are child’s play compared to needed changes in the way we behave. A policy article authored by several dozen scientists appeared online March 15 in Science to …

Big Business On The Sustainability Offensive

Source: Ethical Corporation There is a growing trend for big companies to use sustainable concepts as core business drivers For decades, many companies have typically responded to sustainability challenges by pursuing incremental operational improvements. But we are beginning to see an interesting new trend – businesses using sustainability as a tactic for long-term offense, rather than just short-term defence. Despite the uncertain economic outlook, leading international companies across diverse sectors are investing heavily in sustainable products and services. Others are making cross-industry partnerships to develop next generation products such as the elusive mass market electric car. Some are even enhancing their business models through mergers and acquisitions that seek to address, and capitalise on, sustainability trends. The big challenges What is driving this marked shift in approach? In our view, it is not just a focus on marketing or corporate social responsibility or even the need to manage costs and improve efficiency. Instead, leading companies are demonstrating a growing belief that their future profit and growth will be tied to …

One Child One Light Diwali Campaign

We have launched our campaign to gift a smile to children this Diwali. EfficientCarbon is partnering with Thrive Energy in its campaign of ‘One Child One Light’ and we want to make it a huge success. From our side, we would be making a small contribution to the campaign ourselves but we want you to support us in huge numbers. This would be run from 25/10/2010 to 05/11/2010 and organise a small event to distribute the LED study lights to the school children in villages primarily. The plan is very simple: We are sending out an open invitation to all our friends, associates and acquaintances to donate at least a single light to this campaign. We will collect the information and the donations from all of you and procure the LED study lights from Thrive Energy. We’ll select a few deserving schools in villages (or probably you could suggest us a few schools/NGO’s as well) and host a small event to distribute these lights on 07/11/2010. This will be an open event …

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