India's best bank for CSR 2021: RBL Bank
Corporate social responsibility got a big lift in India after the government made it mandatory in 2014 for large firms to spend at least 2% of their profits on such projects every year.
Banks such as HDFC, State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank have made CSR a core part of the business and put money to work helping the underprivileged. This year, RBL Bank’s CSR division, led by Shanta Vallury Gandhi, stood out.
RBL’s long-term focus has been on health, education and livelihood opportunities – which it shortens to HELO – but it rejigged its strategy last year to help mitigate some of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Take its flagship Umeed 1000 Cyclothon, an annual fund-raising event it has held for the last seven years. Covid didn’t pose a barrier to the event’s supporters, who stuck to social distancing guidelines to cycle 1,000 kilometres over the course of 14 days. RBL also adopted a physical and digital format for another challenge involving volunteers walking, running or cycling, with each kilometre covered raising Rs10.