CSR is a powerful tool

Smart partnerships, shared goals

19 March 2019 | Life Style

JEMIMA BEUKES

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not just about making a social investment grow, but also about fostering smart partnerships between profitable entities and connected communities that have a shared goal.

MTC corporate communications practitioner John Ekongo explains that business norms have changed and that the importance of long-term, purposeful corporate social investments (CSI) has increased and has now become a priority for business leaders globally.

Ekongo argues that embedding CSR into your business practice can also positively affect your relationship and engagement with key stakeholders including customers, communities, suppliers, and partners.

“Of course, CSR can present a number of challenges. Many companies might still consider it an ‘add-on’, or not as relevant for their business as sales or customer satisfaction, as a means to a dominant or lead market position for the corporation. However according to studies, spending at least 1% of profits on social investment projects that are aligned to the business strategy and country growth goals, could hold incremental benefits for the triple bottom-line of the business,” he said.

He also cautioned that CSR should not only be about your line of thinking, implying that you only support initiatives that are within your scope of operations.

“Many downfalls are realised when corporate institutions only direct their support programmes towards their immediate surroundings. For example, banks must only support financial fields, or medical organisations will only see value in active healthy lifestyle initiatives. CSR plays a strategic role in how MTC conducts business as a telecommunications company. Having worked with this brand for many years, I resonate with MTC’s acute awareness towards the way we must not only manage our decisions’ impact on the environment, communities, and stakeholders, but also ensure that these decisions’ purpose resonates with a vision bigger than the company,” he said.

Economist and lecturer at the University of Namibia, Dr Omu Kakuhaja-Matundu said CSR makes a lot of economic sense and will lead to the sustainability of companies.

He also believes that social responsibility is supposed to be responsible towards society and must take care of the impacts of your operation on the environment.

“You take care of society and in that way you prepare a fertile ground for your profits. The other one is if you take good care of the environment it will be healthier longer and provide you with the resources which makes it able for you to have the goods and services that gives you profits,” he said.

He, however, emphasised that an ethical balance must be struck adding that it is not only a benevolent act and splashing money to make a company look good, but a long-term investment to promote sustainable and foster good relations.

“Sometimes you are saying companies are doing too little, but as long as that companies have ethical employment, sustainable environmental policies should be good and well. To say how much they should give to corporate responsibility will be determined by their profitably,” he said.