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Anurag Pratap, VP and India CSR Head, Capgemini talks digital inclusion

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A global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation, Capgemini is a responsible and diverse organization of 290,000 team members in nearly 50 countries. The company is an innovator in the world of cloud, data, AI, connectivity, software, digital engineering and platforms.
The Group reported global revenues of €16 billion in 2020. Through it all, sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility are of essence. “At Capgemini, we believe that social responsibility is much more than a philanthropic act for social benefit. As a leader in digital transformation, we see technology and innovation drive sustainable and social development,” says Anurag Pratap, Vice President and Head of CSR – India, Capgemini.
With 125,000 employees, India is the single-largest talent hub for the French IT services provider. The company hired nearly 24,000 people in India last year. Capgemini announced in February that it plans to hire another 30,000 recruits from India in 2021 across emerging digital skills such as cloud, engineering and research and development, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, edge computing and cybersecurity. Employees are closely involved in the company’s CSR projects as volunteers and donors. In an exclusive interview with The CSR Journal, Pratap talks about the company’s Rs. 50 crore commitment to medical infra in India and how they are working towards being Architects of Positive Futures.

Q 1: What is the CSR strategy of Capgemini?

Through our various CSR initiatives, Capgemini has touched more than 2 million lives and supported more than 4,00,000 people in their journey of being digitally literate. Our ambition is to be recognized worldwide as a leading responsible company, using our expertise for positive impact.
We want to use our skills, expertise, and our network to drive positive change in society and be the ‘Architects of Positive Futures’. To fulfil our ambition, the focus of our actions revolves around two pillars: Leading Digital Inclusion and Reducing the Digital Divide.
Our interventions at pan India level are being implemented though holistic partnerships of aligned values. All interventions are founded on detailed need analysis that is which make for the targeted programme designs that can create maximum impact. Collaboration with government agencies, educational institutions, influencers, and various community-based organizations has shaped our Corporate Social Responsibility projects to imbibe critical aspects like transparency, accountability, and reliability.
As a leading global player, we work locally, nationally, and internationally with charities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local authorities around inclusivity, diversity, and skills for the future. We also encourage active involvement of our colleagues in community development.

Q 2: As head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Capgemini in India, which CSR projects are you most involved with?

As the head of Corporate Social Responsibility of Capgemini in India, I believe the impact of our CSR programmes and the stories of our beneficiaries are the testament to our efforts in this role. The last 24 years have made me believe in the fact that it is possible to win if we want to as a team. I believe in the motto of ‘Together we can, and we will.’
The myriad of programmes and interventions that we anchor are more than numbers to me. Every life that we touch upon has had an impact on me.

Q 3: What kind of Covid relief activities has the company undertaken in India?

Since the pandemic broke out, Capgemini has been deeply committed to support the healthcare system of India and have recently committed Rs. 50 crore to build India medical infrastructure. During these tough times, we worked towards building a better tomorrow through our own colleagues by donations and delivery of hundreds of thousands of pieces of personal protection and medical equipment.
We continue to support our team members and the communities we live in by enabling access to critical care in the fight against COVID-19. As part of our initiatives under the global Social Response Unit (SRU), we have extended support to the Government of Maharashtra and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) efforts to overcome the unprecedented COVID-19 situation and provide critical care to those affected by it in 2020. Some of our COVID relief measures:
– Capgemini has provided 65 fully equipped ICU beds to the following hospitals: (KEM) King Edward Memorial Hospital Mumbai (25 ICU Beds), (LTMGH) Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (20 ICU Beds), and B. Y. L. Nair Charitable Hospital (20 ICU Beds) in Mumbai.
– Provided 5,20,000 cooked meals to daily wage earners and other underprivileged sections of the society in Mumbai and Pune
– Supported 5000 people in Dharavi, Dongri, Wadala, Diva, Dombivili with food items
– Provided 1,50,000 ration kits to migrant workers and daily wage earners in Mumbai and Pune.
In our continued effort to support the healthcare facilities in the second wave of Covid-19, we have partnered with Central and State Governments by providing approximately 1100 Oxygen concentrators, more than 200 fully equipped ICU beds facilities and 7 oxygen plants across cities of our presence in India.
Additionally, Capgemini is also contributing to UNICEF to provide critical COVID response care in India, by setting up 3 oxygen generation plants and RT-PCR testing machines. The second wave of the COVID pandemic in India has been particularly challenging, and we want to ensure all our support to fight this pandemic and come out stronger. We will continue to identify further opportunities to serve and support local communities in these challenging times.

Q 4: The pandemic gave rise to a positive new faction – Capgemini’s Social Response Unit (SRU). What kind of work does SRU do?

All our COVID interventions falls under the umbrella of Capgemini’s Social Response Unit (SRU) that aims to accelerate, replicate, and amplify welfare initiatives, enabling them to be executed in a coordinated manner with agility and speed, to deliver social impact to a broader set of individuals and communities. With the creation of our SRU, we have expanded Capgemini’s existing social impact effort, the Architects of Positive Futures programme, to truly make the world a better place – both today and tomorrow. Our SRU will function as a centralized muscle activating during crises to orchestrate and amplify our global social response.

Our Social Response Unit depends on the following:

– Identifying and activating solutions to address regional needs when they arise by utilizing local CSR partnerships
– Engaging business leads in respective BU/GBL to strengthen existing local CSR activities

Q 5: How do you align with SDG 3 and SDG 17?

Talking about SDG 3 that focuses on good health and well-being, we have several initiatives that are designed to achieve this goal. One of the key CSR initiatives if we had to name it would be Positive Parenting in collaboration with Parisar Asha that focuses on mental well-being of parents and children. Positive Parenting Helpline is a free helpline handled by a team of professional psychologists and psychiatrists. This Helpline has been attending to problems related to school performance, scholastic difficulty, relationship problems, youth problems and other mental health issues. As an extension of the programme, the helpline has been conducting more than 70 workshops for children, youths, and parents every year.
SDG 17 lays emphasis on sound Partnerships; we have been extremely successful in this area. Our collaborations with UN Global Compact network and UNICEF have enabled us to have PAN-India projects that can have a global perspective. Our objective of this collaboration with UNICEF and UN Global Compact Network is to establish a multi-stakeholder platform to enable India’s youth and connect them to aspirational socio-economic opportunities and engage them as active changemakers. Besides, we have partnered with several government bodies and other renowned names in the industry to create maximum impact.

Q 6: What are the core focus areas for your Corporate Social Responsibility programmes in India?

We have three fundamental pillars under which we operate our CSR objectives: Diversity and Inclusion, Digital Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability.

1) Diversity and Inclusion

In order to create a positive change in society and endorse the idea of diversity as a source of inspiration, we have built inclusive workspaces, collaborated with partners and clients for diversity and equity. Some key programmes/ policies we have adopted to enforce this includes the refreshed equal opportunity policy, Capgemini La Lumiere – pre-school initiative. We have also introduced several initiatives that support the emotional and mental wellbeing for all our employees.

2) Digital Inclusion

Under this pillar our primary objective has been to reduce the existing digital divide in the country and work towards making ‘Internet’ inclusive for all. By introducing internet and technology to the underprivileged sections of the society, we are not only offering socio-economic benefits but also giving them access to information and knowledge and creating social impact on a wider scale.
We have an array of programmes that focus on providing basic care and education to girl child from difficult circumstances, digital academies that work on making youth job-ready and provide them with necessary training on skills, mentorship programmes that have Capgemini leaders training youth who belong to the underprivileged sections with interview training and guide them in their process to find a job, offer training and job opportunities to women from tier 3 and 4 cities and bring them into the digital and cloud space.

3) Environmental sustainability

This is an important pillar for us, and we are committed to be carbon neutral by 2025 and net zero by 2030. As of now, our Bangalore campus is the first corporate campus in India to receive Net-Zero Energy Platinum certification. Through our clean energy initiative of ‘Net Metering’, Capgemini Bengaluru EPIP and Hyderabad Gachibowli campuses export excess solar power generated to the State electricity board regularly. We have many such other initiatives in place to achieve our global targets and act on climate change.

Q 7: What is the impact of your flagship CSR programmes?

At Capgemini, we have structured our interventions by giving maximum preference to bottom-up approach. Listening to people and communities and sharing their aspiration is key to our CSR engagement at field. Our flagship programmes and projects have enabled us to contribute to the sustainable development of the country and at the same time, improve the quality of lives of people:

Digital Academies

Our digital academies have enabled youth with future-ready digital skills to enhance their employability leading to sustenance of livelihood. From 2018 to 2020, we have been able to train more than 8000 youth and are proud to have a placement rate of 86%. The key domains we cover in our training include Computer Operation & Digital Education (DCODE), Web Developer, CRM, Data Analytics, Data Science, Java Full Stack Developer, Digital Marketing and so on. We have around 26 Digital Academies with seven that cater to Persons with Disabilities.

Enlight

Another flagship programme, Enlight supports girl children from underprivileged families with education and life skills support. Enlight encompasses girls coming from disadvantaged families, the families who are left out in the education journey. These include but not limited to girl children with disabilities, from HIV/AIDS infected/ affected families, of commercial sex workers and other disadvantaged parents, affected by natural calamities, migrant families, trafficked, abused children, girl children in institutions.
The real need is evident in these categories who have historically been ignored and stigmatized and still prevail to exist in negligence. More than 90% of the children have shown improvement in their competency levels in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. There is enhanced interest towards learning amongst children and peer support is emerging as a strategic aspect.

CapSarathi

CapSarathi is a mobile app designed to offer a one-stop solution of information and services for People with Disabilities (PwD). The application, developed in collaboration with Sarthak Educational Trust, aims to touch lives of the ‘differently abled’ by empowering them digitally, economically, and socially with a special focus on people in rural areas. CapSarathi app is designed taking into consideration the accessibility requirements of all 21 disability categories and will be available in six languages namely Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Bengali. The app will also be available in additional Indian languages in the next phases.

Q 8: Last year, your organisation got a place on the CDP’s prestigious ‘A’ list for its climate change action. Walk us through the company’s global efforts in combating climate change.

In preparing the 22nd Edition of the World Energy Markets Observatory (WEMO), Capgemini’s annual thought leadership and research report that tracks the development and transformation of energy markets around the world, our team had the unusual and unenviable task of balancing two opposing narratives: a continuation of trends related to energy transition, climate change, technological advancement and energy markets evolution throughout 2019; and the dramatic and profound industrywide impact of COVID-19 in 2020 that has, in many ways, reset the baseline and established the “new normal.”
Last autumn, we had our new carbon reduction targets validated by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) as being in line with 1.5oC climate science. We also committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity by 2025 joining RE100, the global corporate renewable energy initiative. The next major step was to cascade our global targets down to country and function level, and to build detailed action roadmaps that take into account regional specificities, business models, and opportunities. Starting with our largest geographies, roadmaps covering over 70% of the Group by headcount were completed by the end of 2020, with the remainder of countries subsequently addressed. Central to this process has been our environmental management team, responsible for our globally ISO14001 certified Environmental Management System.
Accelerating our approach through partnerships and collaborations: While much can be achieved internally, to really achieve the scale and scope of transformation required for a net zero world, we recognize the criticality for collaboration – with clients, partners, NGOs, and suppliers. Since joining the Race to Zero campaign as a founder member last summer, we have also joined the World Economic Forum (WEF) 1 trillion trees campaign to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees around the world, and our CEO joined the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global community of Chief Executive Officers who catalyze action across sectors and engage policymakers to help deliver the transition to a net zero economy.
We are also mobilizing with our clients and our people. Our people are critical to our net zero transition, and to bring over 270,000 own our journey we have accelerated our sustainability learning pathways. Earlier this year, we launched a new tool for the calculating carbon impacts of our client engagements. Understanding the climate science and the carbon impacts at the client engagement level will be crucial for both delivering our targets, and in supporting our clients with their sustainability challenges.

Q 9: Your 2030 Science-Based Targets were achieved 10 years ahead of schedule. Capgemini now aims to be a net zero business by the year 2030. What is the plan for this ambitious target?

It has been almost a year since we announced our new ambitious sustainability targets to achieve carbon neutrality across our operations no later than 2025, and to become a net zero business by 2030.
So, as we enter the twelfth month on our journey, we have now established at the heart of our net zero transformation our ten-stream sustainability transformation roadmap that will enable us to achieve our sustainability ambitions.
i. Lead globally on sustainability
ii. Collaborate with clients and partners
iii. Empower our people to help create the sustainable future we want
iv. Transition to 100% renewal electricity
v. Reduce travel emissions through low carbon digital delivery model
vi. Transition to electric vehicle fleet (recently announced)
vii. Reduce the impacts of employee commuting
viii. Increase the sustainability performance of our offices and data centres
ix. Reduce the carbon impact of our supply chain
x. Neutralise the impacts of residual emissions with carbon removal offsets

Q 10: What are the challenges corporates are facing in maximising CSR projects?

Our key challenges involve finding right partners for a project predetermines its success, for modifying policies and operating in a country like India with a diverse population.