All over the world, the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) towards community development is not only important to members of communities alone but to brand owners as well.
Besides a universally accepted role in philanthropic work of corporations, CSR projects are today achieving greater sustainability in their efforts resulting in growth and change in communities.
This evolution has been possible due to the collaboration of corporations with the development sector, especially none governmental organisations (NGOs).
Report shows that, from the past five decades, the western world has been looking at several dimensions of CSR; legal, ethical as well as discretionary.
But in Nigeria, It is only in recent years that dedicated CSR departments and staffs have appeared in companies. These trained professionals are designing effective community oriented projects which are transforming communities albeit in a small focussed manner.
While it is still contested whether corporations should have social responsibilities beyond a wealth generating function, the world is increasingly seeing corporations fulfilling broader social goals.
These have been happening within business firms with initiatives like changing methods of production to reduce environmental impacts, changing employee relations both within the firm and across the firms’ supply chains.
The initiatives outside the firm include making infrastructural investments in local communities or as more widely seen in philanthropic community initiatives.
Checks reveal that, earlier corporations found it difficult to understand the consequences of social and economic goals. Social goals were directed towards stakeholders and economic goals towards shareholders.
It soon emerged that the development of the both these groups needed to be directly proportional and this led entrepreneurs to believe that profit making need not be the only corporate goal.
As a result, companies started practising social responsibility activities on a voluntary basis to attain various results such as building strong company – stakeholder relationship, motivating employees to enhance production, influencing the community for development and reducing the threat to environment.
Companies also have a history of adapting the approaches advocated in professional social work. This has resulted in good employee engagement practices besides the engagement of other stakeholders the deprived communities.
Speaking to Daily Times on this issue, a brand management consultant, Bernard Okhakume said, “community Development is based on the principles of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning with core emphasis on Educating, Enabling and Empowering community members.
True development is facilitated when citizens from all strata of society engage together with a sense of community solidarity through combined processes, programs, strategies, and activities.
While speaking on individuals or group that could be potential partners for community development through CSR, he said; “the external organizations which can be potential partners for Corporate Citizenship include government and non-government organizations, corporations , such as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations. The emphasis should be on instilling creativity and self-reliance in the community for short and long term goals taking forward Community development as an educational as well as an organizational process.”
According to him, “CSR is in line with United Nations’ ‘Global Compact’ initiative which is the largest corporate citizenship and sustainability endeavor with 4700 corporate participants and stakeholders from 130 countries for promoting human right corporate sustainability.
“Through this initiative, CSR aims to build markets, combat corruption, safe-guard environment and ensure social inclusion through partnerships among business, government, civil society, labour and United Nations. This ever-increasing understanding is reflected in the growth of the community development seen in Nigeria.”
Speaking on participation, collaboration and, he pointed out that, “CSR has an important role in strengthening close link of collaboration, participation and co-operation between corporations and community.
For example, Shell Foundation in the Flower Valley and Marks and Spencer in Africa gave aid to underprivileged communities through CSR projects. Malaysian reality show ‘Bersamamu’ of TV3 is sponsored by Syarikat Faiza Sendirian Berhad (SFSB), which is local enterprise-cum-philanthropist who responded to government’s appeal to help impoverished community to improve their livelihoods through help from the local media for publicity and audience support.
This show focuses on the life of poverty and every purchase of Faiza’s Product, entitles the buyer to make a donation to Tabung Bersamamu TV3.
This is a novel endeavor which may inspire other corporations to help the nation in its effort of alleviating poverty leading to development of community.
“technology corporations can benefit community and support business objectives through their CSR laden technical expertise by facilitating data collection for public organizations. Ex. Intel and IBM in U.S. assisted under-staffed police departments by collecting and processing information of regions with high crime rate.” He added.
He also stated that, “through CSR, organizations evolve a corporate sustainability framework based on a set of economic, social and environmental objectives which are progressive.
“For developed a methodology to assess the employee perspective on sustainable business practices (SBP) which throws light on a corporation’s commitment to be ethically responsible for contributing improving the quality of life of all its stakeholders thus yielding to economic development.”
Also speaking, the National Secretary of the Committee of the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) , comrade Deji Adebowale said; “one of the things that has been responsible for our backwardness in Nigeria is bad government and high level of corruption. We intuitively think of corruption as sand in the wheels of prosperity.
“This is surely true. Corruption reduces the incentive for a small entrepreneur or a big firm to invest. This robs us of the industry I said was so important, and with it jobs and growth. In many ways, corruption is like a tax on business, one that seldom finds its way into providing public goods.”
The government must ensure there is enabling environment for businesses to succeed. Because it is only when businesses succeed that business owners will start thinking of giving back to the society without looking back.