Restaurants across the globe are trying their best to make multiple folds of profits each year. Along with making all the money, a restaurant business for that matter is also responsible for having a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) associated with their brand. Ideally, a company should also think about giving back to their society.
Researchers found that globally more than 77 percent of consumers prefer to buy from socially responsible companies. Even in the restaurant sector, consumers are willing to pay 5 to 10 per cent more because of the brand’s commitment to the community. Moreover, restaurant brands in India have understood the importance of maintaining a responsible image as a company to sustain in the ever cluttered and competitive marketplace.
Introspecting the current times, many restaurant brands, from major QSR chains to individual outlets, have contributed their bit. And for multiple reasons, it also comes as an added advantage.
Giving back to the society
Debaditya Chaudhury, Director of Chowman feels that be it any corporate or restaurants it is their ethical duty to give back to society especially in times of need. Grown-up in Calcutta and having an emotional connection with the people of the city, Chaudhury feel blessed as a brand to be able to help and contribute to the people in distress.
“Our brand is closely associated with BASHA, an NGO that works towards providing better livelihood to the underprivileged and deprived section of the society,” he said further mentioning that Chowman has helped people whose homes were uprooted during Yaas and together with the employees volunteered to contribute for the relief work.
“Together we raised an amount of INR 2.7 lakh which included even the hard-earned tips of our bikers and delivery executives. Apart from the dry rations, basic essentials, hygiene essentials, and medicines,” he added by pointing that as a restaurant, they also organize campaigns to raise awareness on the problems of food waste that remains overlooked even in a third world country like ours.
What does the law say?
Back in 2014, India became the first country in the world to make Corporate Social Responsibility a mandate, through an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013. Since then, it is mandatory for restaurants and other businesses to invest in some of the other social activity. They could invest in education, donate to the needy, raise issues like gender inequality, hunger, and so on. According to the amendment, it is now mandatory for companies with a turnover of INR 1000 crores or a market value of INR 500 crores to spend 2 percent of their average profits of last three years on CSR. Before this law, the clause for CSR was only voluntary for companies.
Lite Bite Foods, which owns several restaurant brands, such as Zambar and Punjab Grill continuously engage in activities like ethical labour practices, Charity, Employee welfare, sponsorships, tree plantation, green strip management, vendor partner recognition etc., which according to the company provides a positivity to their style of doing business.
“We are a responsible foodservice operator and a Great Places to Work certified company. We fully understand that we operate in a society and we are committed to sustainability and community welfare,” said Chef Vineet Manocha- Vice President Culinary, Lite Bite Foods who also firmly believe that overall positivity and ethical practices automatically yield growth.
Helps to build a long-term relationship with consumers
Some of the international chains in India have indeed done a great job when it comes to CSR initiatives. Taco Bell, for instance, as a company firmly believe that a business can thrive only if it is able to use its resources to make a difference. It is critical for large scale businesses to build a long-term relationship with consumers and the community, which is backed by purpose-led initiatives rather than a transactional one which is driven simply by purchase.
Kumar Saurabh, Executive Director, Burman Hospitality Pvt Ltd (Taco Bell’s Master Franchise partner in India) commented that restaurant businesses cannot run in isolation and need to be cognizant of the community within which they operate. “While brands have long played a vital and active role in raising awareness and pushing change for humanitarian causes, the pandemic accelerated this process and prompted businesses like ours to take a step back and reconsider their mission,” he further stated.
At the onset of the pandemic last year, the company supported frontline warriors, daily wage earners and underserved communities through the ‘Taco Bell Cares’ initiative. The Taco Bell Cares was led through collaborations with various hospitals, NGOs and partner brands such as Goonj and World Health Group.
Catering to their CSR, KFC started Add Hope program with an aim to fight child hunger in the country. “Having achieved our initial target to feed 20 million meals by 2020, our endeavour of providing meals to underprivileged children continues, more so during the ongoing pandemic,” a spokesperson from KFC stated.
The American fast food restaurant chain have partnered with hospitals to serve more than 10,000 ‘Thank You Meals’ to healthcare workers across Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata as a token of gratitude. During the second Covid wave now, KFC planning similar initiatives to extend support with medical supplies, kits of food and hygiene essentials and more.
Further, with an aim to help local food businesses recover from its impact, the company launched KFC’s India Sahyog. This program will support 500 restaurants in strengthening their businesses over the next two years. The company is also in its continuous endevour in increasing the women workforce at their restaurants by 2X as well as doubling the footprint of Special KFCs (restaurants operated by hearing and speech impaired team members) by 2024.
Standalone restaurants too taking up CSR initiatives
Not just the big players in the market but the standalone restaurants too have realised amid the ongoing pandemic that the need for CSR initiatives is not just a social responsibility but a privilege that they have over others to be a helping hand.
Shakespeare Cafe in Delhi for instance like many others has been delivering food amidst the pandemic. They made a difference with their Sewa free meals for all Covid positive patients in West Delhi. They distributed thalis which were available to anyone who shows their RT-PCR reports and book their orders 24 hours prior.
“We also had raised funds to make as many thalis as possible, with each costing INR 60 only. Whoever wishes to join their initiative can donate through PayTm,” Mohit Ahuja Owner Shakespeare Cafe Punjabi bagh commented.
People want to know that their favourite restaurant not only take care of their employees, but also take care of the people in the communities in which they are based. Corporate social responsibility has so many facets and involving in any one of them can turn out to be a fruitful decision, not just in terms of reputation but also positive cash flow.