CSR is Smarter Business
At the recent International Singapore Compact CSR Summit 2012, one of the discussions which experts and businesses concur on, amongst other things, is that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is smarter business, if implemented and integrated correctly.
Participants at the summit touted CSR as a next-generation business model – viable and better. Businesses, MNCs and SMEs alike, shared on a variety of benefits from their experience – improvements in efficiency, better risk management, boosting company morale, strengthening of corporate image, and attracting good employees.
A company with good CSR policies is really just a smarter business. With sustainability reporting standards and consumer expectations changing, the bar is being raised and CSR becomes less ‘voluntary’ and more of a differentiator in the competition to be the smartest business.
The recipe for a company’s long term viability needs an ingredient other than profit, according to James Kallman, President Director of MAZARS Indonesia and an accountant by training. Based on his analysis of businesses’ ability to maintain rankings on the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 and S&P 100 over extended periods, he stressed that the crucial factor was to demonstrate that a company cares about people fundamentally.
However, Florian Beranek, Chief Technical Advisor of CSR at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), emphasized the blurring of lines between key concerns such as respect for human rights, environmental sustainability and corporate integrity. Hence, trying to implement and measure CSR in compartmentalised, direct cause-and-effect terms with graphs and numbers may not be feasible.
While some companies include CSR in their already-full marketing and public relations portfolio, they neglect the need for CSR to be integrated into the company’s overall business strategy.
Kwok Yan Hoe, from Keppel Land Limited which was awarded a special mention at the Singapore Compact CSR awards, shared that by designing sustainability fundamentally into the company’s thought processes right from the start, the tricky issue of later-stage cost premiums were addressed.
When implementing CSR, companies should look inwards at existing inefficiencies within their industries and daily operations, and turn them into opportunities using their core competencies and established networks. This helps to lower the cost incurred in initiating CSR activities.
In addition, by engaging employees during planning, and combining personal improvement incentives and their personal interests, the resulting ideas and projects have the potential to boost company morale, retain and attract employees and build the company brand.
CSR is set to stay in the age of social media, enlightened consumers and environmental concerns. Singapore is taking CSR seriously in light of the ASEAN integration blueprint. In emerging regional economies like Vietnam, initiatives such as REAP 26 are being implemented to develop CSR thinking systems right from the start. At universities, it is incorporated into curricula and competitions are organised to train youth in new skill sets.
Starting to think seriously about implementing and integrating CSR may be a safe bet to place a business in better stead of future legislation and trends, and ultimately be a smarter business.
This article is contributed by Yong Rui Yan.