Corporate Social Responsibility is a concept whereby companies voluntarily integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders. It is the commitment of a company to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of life.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is all about operating a business in a way that accounts for the social and environmental impact created by the business. It is a commitment to developing strategies that incorporate responsible practices like funding education (updating our library and equipping our laboratories), funding infrastructural development (road constructions, rural developments and health care) and Entertainment (sponsoring sporting activities) into daily business operations.
According to a corporate responsibility website csr-weltweit, “Nigeria has a well-established ‘culture of charity’; wealthy individuals and institutions contribute to charitable causes and use these contributions to garner positive publicity”.
Many organisations have a CSR Policy, which defines areas of concern and initiatives to improve relations with the people and environments affected by business operations. CSR policies often dictate a system for monitoring responsible performance. Successful CSR initiatives take organisations beyond compliance with legislation and leads them to honour ethical values and respect people, communities and the natural environment. CSR is sustainable - involving activities that your organisation can maintain without adversely affecting your business goals. CSR must be sustainable - remaining a fundamental part of business regardless of changing fortunes.
Consumers increasingly do not accept unethical business practices or organisations who act irresponsibly. Advances in social media (giving everyone a voice) mean that negative or destructive practices quickly fuel conversations and spread like wild fire. Organisations are accountable for their actions like never before.
The Business Benefits of CSR
CSR should not be viewed as a drain on resources, because carefully implemented CSR policies can help the oragnisation in the following areas:
- Win new business
- Increase customer retention
- Develop and enhance relationships with customers, suppliers and networks
- Attract, retain and maintain a happy workforce and be an Employer of Choice
- Risk Management. Good relationships with local authorities make doing business easier
- Differentiation from competitors
- Generate innovation and learning and enhance influence
- Improve business reputation and standing
- Provide access to investment and funding opportunities
- Generate positive publicity and media opportunities due to media interest in ethical business activities
Creating a CSR Policy
Good CSR policies drive corporate change. With well defined objectives and measurable targets, your CSR policy will provide the foundation for steps towards running a more sustainable and ethical business.
In this edition, we have highlighted some of the organisations that have overtime carved a niche for themselves in the area of CSR. The list is by no means exhaustive as it is just a representation of how far CSR has gone in Nigeria today.
In the coming months, we shall focus on these organisations and how they have distinguished themselves as socially responsible corporate entities in giving back to the same society that has supported their brands over the years.
This list is in no particular order: