Branding, CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

CSR is about looking at problems as opportunities – William D. Eggers, Deloitte

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a buzzword with the government (in India) making it mandatory for companies to spend 2% of their net profit on the social upliftment of people .

Meet Mr William D. Eggers, Research Director, Public Sector Industry, Deloitte
Bill, as he is called, is the author of eight books, including his newest, co-authored with Paul Macmillan, The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises are Teaming up to Solve Society’s Biggest Problems (Harvard Business Press, September 2013). He coined the term Government 2.0 in a book of the same name.

He is an appointee to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART) Advisory Board. Bill has advised governments around the world. He gives close to 100 speeches a year and his commentary has appeared in dozens of major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian and the Chicago Tribune.

In an interview granted to Live Mint & Wall Street Journal, Bill said if a company uses CSR activities to also promote its business, it should be applauded and not frowned upon. He feels it is not unethical to leverage on CSR activities to strengthen your brand, if the company is doing a lot to improve the environment, the company should be able to state that it is part of their core values.
Socio-Capitalist agrees with this statement, because if there is no psychological impetus/ booster or Public Relations value for companies to continue to carry out CSR activities, the pot of CSR and the benefits accruable would eventually dry up, especially if companies would be restricted from having bragging rights over positive CSR activities they have carried out.
What is your opinion?

Find below the feature of the interview:

Branding, CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Cruise Industry underperforming in CSR – Leeds Met Research Study

A new research by Leeds Metropolitan University reveals that the cruise industry isn’t going far enough in their corporate social responsibility towards the environment, society and the destinations they visit.
The study, published in April, 2014 in the journal, Tourism Management, analyses the industry’s lack of corporate social disclosure and ranks companies through analysis of their corporate social responsibility reports and websites to provide the first cruise sector sustainability reporting index.
Sixty five per cent of the 80 cruise companies worldwide which were analysed do not mention corporate social responsibility on their websites, and only 12 brands publish corporate social reports – belonging to only four companies: Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, TUI and Disney Cruises.
Dr Xavier Font, the lead author of the study from Leeds Metropolitan University explains: “Most companies report soft data, such as statements from their CEOs, that are easy to copy and do not show real change”.
The report highlights that more must be done by the cruise industry in terms of the environmental impact of cruise ship’s discharges, as cruises usually operate in highly valued coastal water and marine ecosystems. It is noted that some anti-fouling coating used to mitigate the impact contain hazardous chemicals which can be harmful to marine organism. The harm from ballast water is well recognised since 1970 when the International Maritime Organization noted the negative impact of non-indigenous organisms transported in the ballast water. Since 2004 there is a Convention for the Control and Management on Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments, but that has not entered into force due to the limited signing from states (only 33) until 2012.
Cruise ships that comply with legislation and are under international regulations may still discharge comminuted and disinfected sewage using systems approved by its flag administration at a distance of more than three nautical miles from shore. To be able to claim environmental responsibility, cruise companies should use an advanced system and use it consistently, not just depending on the jurisdiction.
The study also examined the socio-economic impact of the cruise industry and highlighted previous research which reported evidence of frequent violation rights for disadvantaged groups including charges for medical examinations, visas, transport and administration putting cruise industry workers into a level of debt that cannot be repaid and is comparable to forced labour.
It also noted that there is limited public data to sustain the claim that cruise industry contributes to the economy by creating jobs and contributing to the local economy of the destinations visited. In fact, low spend cruisers are considered unproductive given the costs incurred by their impact. Additionally earnings by the supply chain are limited, as the requirements for the cruise are complex, requiring larger number of forecasted supply. Economic factors, such as fuel consumption, are the only ones considered to select destinations, but not the impact on communities. This is especially acute in small destinations where the ratio to cruise passenger per resident is high.

CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Greenwashing – the extent to which companies meet their CSR promises depends on national attitudes to competition and individualism, according to Oxford Academic.

A new research into firms’ symbolic and substantive CSR practices has shed light on differing expectations of the role of business in society.

The assumption that corporations say one thing and do another when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not far from the truth, but just how much they follow through on their promises depends on cultural interpretations of the principles of liberal economics and the perceived role and strength of the government, says Thomas Roulet, Research Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

In a paper for the Journal of Business Ethics, Thomas Roulet and his co-author, Samuel Touboul, IPAG Business School, explored the ambiguities surrounding firms’ commitments to social and environmental initiatives. They discovered that in countries where people believed strongly in the virtues of competition, firms were more likely to practise “greenwashing” – that is, to make a lot of noise about their CSR, but to do very little. In countries where liberalism was interpreted as predominantly about individual responsibility, firms were more likely to focus on concrete actions.
Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers calculated average country-level beliefs when it came to two central tenets of economic liberalism: a belief in the virtues of competition and a belief in the importance of individual responsibility. They found that developed market economies such as Switzerland, the United States, New Zealand and Canada tended to have higher cultural beliefs in favour of individual responsibility. While those countries also score highly in terms of cultural beliefs in favour of competition, it appears that countries with higher scores on this variable are fast developing countries such as India, China, and Morocco.

Mapping these country-level beliefs against the CSR actions of firms in those countries confirmed that firms are more likely to greenwash when populations’ beliefs in the virtue of competition are predominant, and when their beliefs in individual responsibility are less prominent. Therefore, in a country like Morocco, where beliefs in the virtue of individual responsibility are low, but in the virtue of competition are high, firms are more likely to greenwash. Conversely, in a country like France, where the population believes in the virtue of individual responsibility but prefers an absence of competition, firms are less likely to greenwash as they tend to implement socially and environmentally responsible actions without specifically signalling those actions.

The question is where do countries like Nigeria fall into?

CSR, Law, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized

CSR News: India sets up New Law on Social Responsibility

India has seized the initiative to promulgate a law, making corporate social responsibility mandatory for corporate organisations. This is a major step by the country, in light of the prevailing situation operative in other countries of the world, whereby companies are left to exercise CSR at their discretion. Though CSR is gaining popularity all over the world, countries have not seen the need to codify CSR into law.
Now, companies in India have to match the efforts of the State and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in initiating activities for the economic growth of the underprivileged and similarly marginalized groups as well as social causes such as animal welfare and environment.
From April 1, 2014, it has become legally binding for companies in India to be “socially responsible.”
Section 135 of the new Companies Act 2013, reads that the CSR Rules makes it mandatory for companies, meeting certain criteria, to set aside two per cent of their net profits for undertaking and promoting socially beneficial activities and projects in India. To implement this, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) recently issued the CSR Rules, 2014, to implement this legislative mandate, which came into effect on April 1, 2014.
Every company with a net worth of at least Rs 500 crore, or a minimum turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, or a minimum net profit of Rs 5 crore (approx. $1 million), has to constitute a CSR committee dedicated to undertake initiatives such as promoting women’s empowerment, improving maternal health, education, gender equality or ensuring environmental sustainability.
This is a great step in the right direction and a catalyst for development. Developing Countries should look in this direction.

Branding, CSR, Entertainment, Public Relations

CSR Initiative: Sterling Bank Sponsors Private Screening of ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’

Sterling Bank Plc of Nigeria is set to make its mark in the entertainment industry, as it sponsors two private screenings of the film, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, the $8 million dollar movie collaboration between Hollywood and Nollywood.
The film is an adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s novel which depicts the relationships between the four prime characters and how they were affected by the Nigerian Civil War, and the triumph of love, over war.
The screenings, which held in Lagos, was exclusively for the customers of the Bank and was aimed at rewarding loyalty and sustained business relationship.
This, according to the Group Head, Strategy & Communications, Mr. Shina Atilola, was in line with the major Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of the Bank, which focuses on education, entertainment and the environment.
The film, which was directed by Biyi Bandele, featured stars like the British-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hollywood actresses Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose and veteran Nigerian entertainer Onyeka Onwenu. The lead cast is supported by several Nigerian actors including Genevieve Nnaji, O.C Ukeje, Zack Orji, Tina Mba and Gloria Young. It also stars John Boyega and Joseph Mawle.
The Bank’s spokesperson explained that the partnership between the Bank and the entertainment industry was one of great importance to the brand, as it further deepens its involvement in entertainment by the hosting and screening of a critically acclaimed global movie ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’, is just another step in that direction.
This is a good initiative in supporting the Arts.

CSR, Sustainable Development

How CSR can aid developing countries to meet their MDG Targets. (Nigeria as a case study)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states, at the time, and at least 23 international organizations committed to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The goals are as follows:
1.To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2.To achieve universal primary education
3.To promote gender equality and empowering women
4.To reduce child mortality rates
5.To improve maternal health
6.To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7.To ensure environmental sustainability
8.To develop a global partnership for development
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is expiring next year.
Right now the international development community is taking stock of the progress recorded so far by member countries and is pondering over what happens after 2015.
Locally, how have corporate organisations in Nigeria helped the governments (federal, states and local) to meet the MDGs targets? Companies in the country should tailor their corporate social responsibility initiatives to suit MDGs targets.
Intervention in the various MDG goals listed above by the numerous companies operating in Nigeria would go a long way in the realisation of the MDG objectives. At the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) highlighted the positive role sustainable food systems can play in the fight against hunger. While the UN World Food Programme stated that, every day 840 million people go hungry.
Similarly, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/4 shows why education is important and paramount for development in a rapidly changing world.
These are just a few areas that companies could concentrate on in aiding the country to meet its MDG targets.
With only a year to go, maybe a law should be enacted like in India, to compel companies to spend a fraction of their profit on CSR Initiatives, which must include the ready-made MDGs 8-point agenda. The Public-Private Partnership operative in Nigeria is an operative tool/ mechanism which could be enhanced to achieving these goals.

Branding, CSR, Public Relations, Social Media, Sustainable Development

CSR and Social Media: The New Power Partnership in changing Customer Experience.

New York – A panel of discussants gathered to discuss on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to brands and the role social media plays in the mix in a discussion titled, ‘Digital and Social Media Breakthrough in Customer Experience’. A lot of ground-breaking and elucidating comments were made, highlighting various mantras and ethos in the current practice of CSR in the social media age. The panel was moderated by Trish Wheaton, Wunderman’s Chief Marketing Officer and Y&R Advertising’s Managing Partner, Global New Business.
She was joined by Michele Barlow, EVP of Enterprise Marketing at Bank of America, and other major industry players from global brands that are leading the charge for CSR: Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News, and Chad Mitchell, Senior Director, Digital Communications, Walmart.
The panel was held at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, on March 28, 2014, as part of The Conference Board’s Customer Experience Conference.
The panel brought to the fore issues relating to transparency, trust, making your customers fall in love with your experience (through the two way symmetrical model of Grunig), making employees Brand Advocates, through making them believe in the CSR objectives. How citizens have been empowered to influence companies today. How social media enables immediate reaction, by companies to customer needs. How “CSR has to be part of your DNA. It isn’t just something you can get in and out of”. The most interesting and pertinent statement that could be taken away from this discussion is that, the goal of every company should be to get their customers on their side, where the customers can stand up for a brand. This is very powerful.

Find below some quotes from the discussants and a feature on the session:
Barlow was weighing in on “Digital and Social Media Breakthrough in Customer Experience,” when she said “Be prepared––you’re going to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. You can’t edit out the negative stuff,”. “We’ve learned a ton from the ugly. (It) demonstrates that you’re a brand that cares, if you take the feedback and act on it.”
According to Conlon, once you understand what consumers value about your brand, you’re on your way to making them love you—an especially important factor when embracing social.
Conlon said “When customers are on the side of the brand, they’ll stand up for you when there’s a mess up,”. “That’s really powerful, when customers will join the conversation with you.”
Wheaton said “The combination of social and CSR is a brave new territory to go into,”. “The bad always finds its way through, but the good often does not”. “So if you’re doing it, say it!”
Mitchell said “Be true to your brand”, “different channels, same voice” i.e. be consistent across channels.