Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become one of the standard business practices all over the world.
For companies committed to CSR, it means kudos and an enhanced overall reputation – a powerful statement of what they stand for in an often cynical business world.
The establishment of a CSR strategy (sometimes referred to as a sustainability strategy) is a crucial component of a company’s competiveness 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 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.
A 2015 study by the Kenexa High Performance Institute in London (a division of Kenexa, a global provider of business solutions for human resources) found that organisations that had a genuine commitment to CSR substantially outperformed those that did not, with an average return on assets 19 times higher. Additionally, the study showed that CSR-orientated companies had a higher level of employee engagement and provided a markedly better standard of customer service.
Despite the positivity and optimism that CSR brings to the corporate table, companies do not always accept their responsibilities in this area in good heart, with a fair number admitting to having adopted CSR mainly as a marketing gimmick.
In some cases, firms may have been coerced into adopting CSR, and they did so with insufficient enthusiasm and vigour, leaving many of them to ponder what they could and should have done differently.
For those considering CSR as a strategic option the question to ask may very well be this: is the CSR payoff always worth the outlay?
CSR policies need to be considered as a core and inseparable component of the overall service or product offering.
Analysts believe 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.
For these analysts, 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.”
To this end, the extent of corporate social responsibility and investment in societal growth and development is open to individual interpretation.
Records have consistently shown inadequacy in this regards, and to that extent, the general perception has been negative.
Understandably however, resource allocation to corporate social responsibility is a function of determination and commitment, especially among developing nations , such as Nigeria.
The pattern of investment in CSR by brand owners from immediately post independence Nigeria has been selective based on urbanization and satellite allocation, economic viability, social impact and population.
That notwithstanding, experts are of the view that, the method of resource allocation for CSR as a component of societal development became evident that for meaningful impact, emphasis should shift from a mere contribution towards national growth and development to sustainability.
It is worthy of note that, CSR increase as a result of direct consequence of population explosion and growth in economic activities.
In line with their mandate however, brand owners can be credited with good measure of remarkable success in the area of CSR in the years under review.
Such success could be seen in how some of the brands in Nigeria has been supporting the Nigerian youths by way of empowering them in area of entertainment.
While corporate organissation and individual will continue to receive accolade from Nigerian both at home an in Diaspora, it is also important to articulate some of the critical issues that must be addressed being essentials in complement of corporate bodies/individual efforts at ensuring CSR and the success recorded so far.
Speaking to Daily times on this issue, a brands management consultant, Bernard Okhakume said; “companies must set their goals at optimizing their collective investment on CSR. Constant in international economic rating of nations is the extent of economic growth and development based on resource allocation.
“For comparative advantage, therefore, brand owners should begin to consult experts on corporate social responsibility into sector with great potential to propel their overall economic growth and development.
“Companies must be pragmatic in this regards carefully articulating investment policies and decisions, based on comparatively better reward potentials.”
“that lead us to the convergence point of all stakeholders- corporate bodies/individuals, government and the larger society are indebted to ensuring the sustainability of corporate social responsibility.
“The larger society must adopt the right attitude towards ensuring that the investment of brands owners into CSR yields the desired result. On the part of government, (federal, states and local government) investment decision/policy on CSR must be carefully considered for the common good of all, in the face of scarce resources.
Dr. Ken Egbas, Founder/CEO at TruContact is clear on what a CSR programme, or a sustainability strategy, should accomplish.
He said;“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,.” Continuing, he pointed out that, “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.”