In this episode of Purpose Inc. podcast, host Michael Young spoke with Balaji Ganapathy, global head of corporate social responsibility at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Balaji leads the company’s global effort to build a more inclusive society through education.
Key Takeaway: “Today every company wants to be a purpose-driven enterprise. It’s easier said than done. But I think that journey will define where we are as a society in the next five to ten years.”
Balaji discusses the origins of Tata Group’s mission to uplift the quality of life of people wherever they live and work. The founder of Tata Group Group, Jamshedji Tata, who was active in many dimensions of India’s industrialization, built the company the core values that have allowed “us flourish and grow and sustain our business, talent and communities over the past 150 years.”
Founded in 1968, TCS is a $22 billion operating in46 countries across with more than 450,000 employees. TCS’s vision for CSR is to empower people and communities, providing access to opportunities in the digital economy. The Group brings that vision to life in building equitable pathways for women, youth and marginalized groups and connecting them to new digital opportunities.
TCS examines the problems in the communities in which they operate and creates solutions. The imperative in connecting people to opportunities is to zoom in on the top focus areas for TCS: education, skilling, employment and entrepreneurship. TCS runs programs that teach young people the language of the digital age, design thinking, data structures, algorithms as a means of creating opportunities for those who are disadvantaged.
Balaji discusses Ignite My Future for K-12 and Go IT, programs TCS runs in 150 school districts in all 50 states from which 11,000 educators have adopted its curriculum and almost 670,000 students are using these lesson plans in their schools to learn computational thinking.
Globally, TCS runs employability programs to create a bridge between people who have the interest but not the skills to gain jobs in the digital economy and BridgeIT which brings entrepreneurs in villages in India and connects them with new opportunities. TCS aims to use technology and digital fluency to flip the model — where they can tap into opportunities in their own environment and create new economies.
On measuring CSR initiatives: “I think it is really important that in the sustainability and CSR space, we use the same kind of business sense and business approach that we would do in the line and the delivery space. So, I approach it in that way, that overall we have a measurement and ROI framework that we adopt that looks at all of the elements of input, output, outcome and impact.”
On criticisms leveled at corporate social responsibility initiatives: “I can totally relate to anybody who has a critique about whether purpose has really become center to organizations or is this another form of greenwashing. I think those questions are important because you have to hold the feet to the fire of anybody who’s a CEO or a board. I hold my feet to the fire. I am a moral beacon and a compass for my board and my CEO and my leadership team. We need to ask ourselves, are we walking the talk? Are we demonstrating through our actions?”
Finally, on why corporate purpose matters: “I think purpose is going to define which companies continue to exist, which companies continue to grow but more importantly, that those companies will come together and do to bridge some of the inequities that exists in society today.”
Listen to the full interview with Balaji here: