10 THINGS: What CSR is NOT!
- Product alignment
Product alignment is more or less product management and entails the understanding of market needs, proper positioning that addresses segment needs so companies can meet and exceed sales targets whilst delivering return on investment in the business case. Product alignment is doing business the smart way and should not be confused with CSR. However, it may reflect responsible business practices in production, supply chain management or customer service.
- ‘Giving Back’
Possibly the most abused phrase in the last decade, giving back is as vague as vague can be. Many people assume that CSR is for corporations to “give back to society” (there’s that phrase again) by funding community projects, providing scholarships, organising educational or charitable activities etc. Giving back has no consequence or implication for business practices or decisions and is already a stale concept in 21st century business. CSR encompasses a corporation’s overall business practices and behaviour, linked with the idea of sustainability. It’s about corporations that are responsible, ethical and sustainable in what they do.
It follows therefore that ethical and responsible businesses will contribute in significant and positive ways towards sustainable development. Their initiatives in community, education or charitable projects then become an integral part of their corporate culture, rather than merely a publicity exercise or “smokescreen” for unethical or unsustainable practices.
- Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)
Public Private Partnerships are not CSR. Oh yes, they are not. When a private entity partners with a public office or government to meet a social need; it is strategic. Although commendable, PPPs often have immense benefits to organizations – from mileage to policy waivers and smoother government relations. PPPs are great but how great are the internal and other external activities of the company in context? We thought as much!
What happened to the UNEP Report on Ogoniland?
In August 2011, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) released a report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland. This report provided findings of a major, independent scientific assessment carried out at the request of the Federal Government, to determine the extent of pollution from over 50 years of oil operations in the Niger Delta region. It also provides recommendations on how to clean up the severe pollution.
According to the release announcing the report, the study was conducted over a 14-month period; the UNEP team examined more than 200 locations, surveyed 122 kilometres of pipeline rights of way, reviewed more than 5,000 medical records and engaged over 23,000 people at local community meetings. Detailed soil and groundwater contamination investigations were conducted at 69 sites, which ranged in size from 1,300 square metres (Barabeedom-K.dere, Gokana local government areas to 79 hectares, Ajeokpori-Akpajo, Eleme local government. Altogether more than 4,000 samples were analyzed, including water taken from 142 groundwater monitoring wells drilled specifically for the study and soil extracted from 780 boreholes.
The report can be downloaded from: http://www.unep.org/nigeria.
On the UNEP Report and the response of the Nigerian government…
In fact I must say that I’ve been very disappointed by the way it has been handled…there is absolutely no visible response from the government. A committee was set up headed by the minister of petroleum resources but as I speak to you, that committee has never gone to Ogoni land, never! As I speak with you, that committee has never spoken with me, never! And I am a Senator representing that senatorial district, they have not seen any of the things mentioned in the UNEP Report, and yet, a report has been submitted on the implementation of the UNEP Report. How do you implement a report without talking to the people?
Senator Magnus Ngei Abbe,
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (downstream)
Understanding ISO 26000…
ISO 26000 is an International Standard (by the International Standards Organisation, ISO) created to guide organisations on Social Responsibility. It is drawn up to provide support or a reference for all kinds of organisations in both private and public sectors both in developed and developing countries, as well as those who may be referred to as ‘being in transition’. ISO also likes to note that the ISO 26000 document only contains a voluntary guidance, not requirements, and should therefore not be used as a certification standard. (Like ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004).
Since many experts across board all agree that CSR or SR or CR – all mean different things and vary from organisation to organisation; the ISO 26000 provides a rallying point for ALL kinds of organisations – especially both private and public enterprises as well as large corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises, public administrations and government agencies. The contents of this document, is simple and easy to understand – even for non-specialists or practitioners of CSR.
This standard complements the many other high-level declarations, conventions and individual CSR or SR initiatives that have been established, adopted or imbibed by organisations. Thus, the guide provides a plan to implement these lofty ideas.
The contents of ISO 26000 are summarised as follows: Scope, Terms and definitions of Social Responsibility, Understanding social responsibility, Principles of social responsibility, Recognizing social responsibility and engaging stakeholders, Guidance on social responsibility core subjects, Guidance on integrating social responsibility throughout an organization and examples of voluntary initiatives and tools for social responsibility.
The International Standard ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on social responsibility, provides harmonized, globally relevant guidance for private and public sector organizations of all types based on international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups, and so encourage the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide.
For more information: visit: http://www.iso.org/sr
Here are two events you should plan to attend:
20-22 June 2012, Rio, Brazil: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
This is being organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236 and will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in the same city and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. It is envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level including Heads of State and Government or other representatives and the leading experts in Sustainable Development. A focused political document will be expected from this agenda-setting event. The objective of the Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges. The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.
For more information, visit: http://www.uncsd2012.org
June 27-29, 2012, Calabar, Nigeria: The Africa CEO Roundtable & Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (AR-CSR™) 2012.
The Africa CEO Roundtable and Conference on CSR (AR-CSR™) is an industry flagship event attracting the crème of Africa’s leading figures and decision-makers to immediately spark off conversations and discussions about Corporate Social Responsibility in Africa. It will also bring counterparts from Europe, Asia and North America for peer reviews and best practices.
ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited, an Assessments and Strategy Firm, in strategic partnership with Friends of the Global Fund, Africa (Friends Africa) and CAPPS Consult; will host the AR-CSR™ 2012 with the theme: ‘Sustainable Development: Expanding Economic Opportunities through Public-Private Synergy’. This event is the all-inclusive CSR & Sustainability management event of the year and the first of its kind in Africa. Leaders from a variety of sectors from far and wide within and outside the continent will gather to share their expertise and experiences on an array of Business and Development topics.
For more information and registration, visit: http://www.ar-csr.com