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Why companies don’t take CSR seriously

Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, has become an integral part of business all over the world.

As a matter of fact,CSR is now a veritable tool for measuring business practices. For companies committed to CSR, it means an enhanced overall reputation for them – a powerful statement of what they stand for in an often cynical business world.

However, checks show that companies often develop a CSR agenda not because of an altruistic desire to assist in curing the ills of society, but for reasons more akin to a box ticking exercise.

Whatever the consensus may be, some organisations either implement their CSR programme with a distinct lack of heart or resist adopting a CSR policy altogether.

Report further revealed that, if a resistance to CSR policies does exist, it usually stems from the notion of allowing external stakeholders to directly influence corporate policies and strategies, an idea that is largely antithetical to the basic mindset under which many, if not most, corporations operate. An honest adoption of CSR often requires a serious reformulation of corporate purpose and decision-making structures.

Daily Times gathered that, companies in the developing world may respond to civil society and investors’ pressure to take social responsibility more seriously by adopting CSR frameworks, “but only to appease their critics and without any attention to actual changes in their practices.”

In other words, voluntary CSR commitments may just be a way for corporations in the developing world to forestall real regulation.

Speaking on this issue, a brand and marketing analyst, Samuel Ajayi told Daily times that; “every company’s situation is unique, with many different models in existence, which can help organisations to achieve their CSR aims. In turn, this preponderance of choice has led to many companies recognising that they are defined by what they do, not just what they give. “Companies are not solely providing a financial contribution, but are increasingly unlocking their intellectual assets and the power of their people to achieve a positive impact.”

He said,”Ultimately, coherency comes from clear purpose, programmes of work which are authentic to and valued in the business and an acceptance that it is critical to business performance.”

According to him, “it is clear what a CSR programme, or a sustainability strategy, should accomplish. It comprises re-evaluating how the company thinks about its impact, engaging stakeholders beyond shareholders and coming up with a plan to improve the impact of the business on society and seize business opportunities and make cost savings as a result.”

He said,“This would involve a lot of planning and engagement with employees, managers, suppliers, NGOs, perhaps academics and others, to figure out where and how this is best done.”

While commenting on how to ensure companies take CSR seriously, the national secretary general of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), comrade Deji Adebowale said; “Making social and environmental reporting mandatory and public would help. And more importantly, the public needs to hold companies accountable when they fail to keep their promises.

According to him, “the establishment of a CSR strategy (sometimes referred to as a sustainability strategy) is a crucial component of a company’s competitiveness; and something that should be led by the firm itself. This means having policies and procedures in place which integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights or consumer concerns into business operations and core strategy – all in close collaboration with stakeholders.”

“For companies, the overall aim is to achieve a positive impact on the society as a whole; while maximising the creation of shared value for the owners of the business, its employees, shareholders and stakeholders. Not so long ago, the European Commission defined CSR as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”, a succinct and distinct summation for sure,” he noted.

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