4th Protocol? CSR? A Conspiracy to hoodwink?

Fourth Protocol:- Not the block buster movie from an outstanding fiction master!!

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General Philosophy to excellence in life by 3 Prtocols. 

1st Protocol ——-> My Life and My Well Being. I, me, Myself to Happiness!

2nd Protocol —–> People around me, First Circle of influence. (Spouse, Significant other, Family, Close Friends People who influence whom you influence) to Content 

3rd Protocol——-> Work, Livelihood, Peers to Motivate, Inspire, Engage Role model


4th Protocol ——-> Everyone else Beyond Radar???  to HOODWINK???? 

In response to my previous post on Social Media and its impact on EHS professionals, A comment was posted by a reader, asking on linkage of extending EHS to CSR / Sustainability.  I replied that in an ever changing scenario, EHS encompasses CSR and Sustainability,the foremost aspect of any entity is to keep its people safe and well from Harm. Rest is all secondary as to be  called “Not Important but Urgent” I am qualified to make that statement being a qualified Environmental Engineer besides a Qualified Safety professional.  Keeping people safe, Protecting Environment, minimizing property damage far supercede other task in so-called operational initiatives. Doing other things well without Safety as a primary focus is to live a life without a soul.

I would now post to elaborate which may be or may not be acceptable to all. To my astonishment, companies in 2017, see EHS and Sustainability as two silos and managed by two functions. (I am not even going in to EHS reporting mess, that is a separate blog in itself)  Since all my HSE Blog posts are all based on what we folks did in world-class /top-notch organisations, thus drinking our own cool aid and delivering outstanding results. These initiatives even withstood tough times and we enjoyed as success even in the worst of times, say 2008 Financial crisis which shook the world and made many folks wonder as to their every day at work would be the last working day!! 

Of course, I am focusing the discussions to the Manufacturing, Service and organised sector where products and services are the output to create value.

So let’s go to basics:-

What is EHS, CSR, Sustainability? 

EHS–> Environment, Health Safety covering broadly the following aspects. Please note in these days of convergence it is very difficult to draw a red line and say components of EHS exist in isolation. There is always interaction, interdependence between EHS components.

workplace safety
Work Place Safety components.


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Occupational Medicine/Health and Industrial Hygiene.

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So the overarching EHS and their interlinkage can be summarised as follows with an management systems perspective ( I am not getting in to systems, PDCA they are already covered in my blog)

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So having got the grip of EHS and systems. How this fits in Sustainability? Suffice to say EHS is a major component which forms the foundation and Sustainability efforts are offshoot. In a broader sense EHS is ROOT and  Sustainability could be off shoot in a tree analogy.

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Having now known the Linkage between EHS and Sustainability, we can now move to see what is CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and how it fits in Scheme of EHS framework. 


I reproduce below the article which I read which explains my view very nicely:- CSR and EHS – FINAL

Corporate social responsibility has many definitions, but it is usually comprised of three
fundamental principles: (1) CSR encompasses economic, ecological, and social aspects of
corporate governance; (2) CSR is voluntary; and (3) CSR goes beyond mere compliance, that is, companies engaging in CSR invest in human capital, the environment, and relations with stakeholders (Buchner, 2012). From these principles, it is easy to see how enhancing occupational safety and health, improving working conditions, developing environmental protection programs, and voluntarily committing to human rights not only makesense from an internal standpoint, but also serve to improve relationships with external stakeholders.

A generic list of CSR Activities to give an idea of what is CSR is all about is listed below:-

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 9.55.03 AM.png

It can be seen CSR is a business aid, that makes company act responsibly,but those that do it through CSR initiatives, may not be doing it at a stellar level and many see CSR as a PR tool and try to green wash or blue wash their company without a care for committment, engagement and involvement.

In summary CSR is

  1. Makes good business sense to engage for the betterment of the macroscopic environment in which the entity exist.
  2. CSR is not at all charity or give away, it is all about how companies earn their profits, not how companies share or spend profits. This is where the linakage to EHS and sustainability and protecting people manifests as paramount importance.
  3. CSR initiatives to succeed beyond company compound wall and be seen as genuine player requires,1) employees with impeccable work integrity, 2)with an appopriate organisation structure and 3)resources as well as 4)culture of the organisation lead by leaders with team which imbibes on 5) organisational excellence linking Safety, Quality, Productivity, Inventory, Delivery, Cost as enabler with 6) Institutional and Individual Ethics being the core foundation in doing business.
  4. CSR is all about going beyond compliance, as I have covered before, Compliance can only lead to 20-30% of operational excellence in all areas. In 2017, organisations have moved beyond compliance to link best business operational factors beyond law and regulations. As Trevor Kletz says, if you think Safety (EHS) is costly, Try an Accident. 
  5. There is new concept emerging called SOFT LAW which guides CSR mechanism, which is what stakeholders, customers, interested parties opine. They need to be included in scheme of business as a key input. The new ISO standards focus on the same as a key parameter in setting objectives, targets or business plan.
  6. CSR needs monitoring and measurement and course correction.

Summed Up:-

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In the absence of 1) Business/ Work place risk focus,2)business planning strategy of ops excellence, 3) a sound intrinsic EHS systems with process in place, for protecting people, property,thus contributing to bottomline,reaching out to carrying out CSR initiatives in external environment may not serve any organisation very well in the medium and long term. Thus it may become an act of hoodwink.  I am restricting my discussion to only EHS for the purpose of this post in operational excellence aspect. I am yet to see an organisation in which Safety, quality, Inventory, Delivery and cost were at different levels of excellence and the company prospered. They all constitute the pillars of business excellence and a weak one will take down others eventually.

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I look forward to comments,thoughts, inputs if any.


1/6/2017, 1245pm. 

PS: I duly acknowledge the copyright aspects of diagrams, charts and articles which have been used here. Thank you all so much. 


Author: Karthik B; Orion Transcenders. Bangalore.

Lives in Bangalore. HESS Professional of 30+ yrs experience. Global Exposure in 4 continents of over 22 years in implementation of Health, Environment, Safety, Sustainability. First batch of Environmental Engineers from 1985 Batch. Qualified for implementing Lean, 6Sigma, HR best practices integrating them in to HESS as value add to business.

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