Be a good neighbour!
November 15, 2006
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes on several definitions but fundamentally, it refers to business decision-making that is based on ethical values, compliance with legal standards, and solicitude for human dignity, communities, the environment, and other stakeholders of business (Source: Jose Mario B Maximiano, CSR Integration into Core Business: among Selected Firms in the Philippines). CSR requires that businesses account for and measure the actual or potential economic, social and environmental impacts of their decisions.
The advent of CSR as some experts claim, can be traced back since the ancient times. Of course, it wasn’t called CSR then, but as old as trade and business itself, social and environmental concern about business has been in existence. From those times until today, CSR has evolved into an essential component of enterprises. Businesses have taken cognizance of the fact that the pursuit of economic growth and increased competitiveness are correlated with environmental protection and social responsibility. Nowadays, CSR covers a wide spectrum of discipline among which are Community, Environment, Business Ethics, Human Rights, Marketing, Corporate Vision and Values and the Workforce.
In the context of community, let me share a few excerpts from an article by the Business in the Community (BITC). BITC is is a unique independent business led charity whose purpose is to inspire, engage, and support and challenge companies, to continually improve the impact they have on society:
All businesses, large or small, have an impact on the communities in which they operate. Managed well, this impact can bring significant benefits to both the community and the business concerned. Business has a positive impact on the community because of the employment the company provides. It also produces goods and services which may be consumed locally.
A company can add an extra dimension to this by taking the initiative, and by supporting and building the community through a programme of corporate community investment. This programme can take the form of charitable donations, staff volunteering and providing other resources, such as the use of professional skills or the use of equipment and premises. It can be the most visible part of a company’s approach to social responsibility, and one of the most satisfying.
Of course a business may also have a negative impact. This might include disruption and noise from the day to day operation of a site and poor relationships with key local stakeholders. A good community programme should go hand in hand with measures to keep these negative impacts to a minimum.
Companies are increasingly developing positive relationships with local communities. This not only helps the community, they find it can also support the objectives of a whole range of business functions such as:
Marketing – building brand familiarity and reputation; sales promotions
Human Resources – boosting staff morale; developing team building skills; management development and training
Public Affairs – creating platforms for dialogue with national or local opinion makers
Public Relations – generating positive media coverage; retaining “license to operate” relationships
Community investment is like any other form of investment. Done well, and linked with business goals, it will both assist the community, and support and strengthen the business.