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:

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.

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.