Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Bearing in mind that organization responsibilities are a function of their goals, it is sad that the general nature of the objectives of organizations- however corporate or non-corporate- is often in strict adherence to the goal(s) of its economic system which is majorly to provide goods and services to their customers- giving minimal consideration to other important factors like social responsibility that may come along the way. As a result, it became necessitated and demanding for organization to contribute towards the general welfare of society, internationally, nationally and in the company’s immediate neighborhood. Though this has not been fully fletched and properly appropriated in developing continents like Africa, it has however generated tangible attentions on a global scale just as global warming has in the 21st Century.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that embraces the notion that every organization has a humanitarian and philanthropic responsibility in addition to its ordinary responsibility to make monetary profit for the company’s purse. Corporate Social Responsibility can be linked with socially responsive marketing, one of four concepts that make up the concept of ‘Holistic Marketing’. It is concept that calls on marketers to fulfill the needs of their target markets in ways that improve society as a whole.
The logic behind organization being urged to be more interested in growth and stability rather than mere profit making is quite simple and explanatory; organizations are sited within an area and if such vicinity is in chaos or unhealthy to the lives of its primary dwellers, then the organization’s business can’t thrive as it should or will die-off. In other words, the growth of and continuity of an organization is largely anchored on the peace and healthiness of its immediate surroundings and people. In fact, the wider the perimeter peace of an organization is situated, the better.
Generally, the ‘stakeholder’ theory posits that a firm has responsibility to maintain an equitable and working balance among the conflicting claims of the affective groups or individuals either directly or indirectly i.e. employees, customers, board of directors, the environment and the public or society. However, on the average, the joggling of conflicting interest of the stakeholders to achieve the balance needed for the smooth operation of an organization is ultimately geared towards profit making. Consequently upon the need of organizations to incorporate societal responsibilities into their goals, the context of ‘profit’ has grown to develop many definitions as opposed to the monetary terms which it ordinarily connotes.
The consideration or effect of each and every stakeholder in an organization is quite hieratical putting the interest of the board of directors at the top of the stakeholder pyramid and the public or environment at the bottom. This is, in fact, a generational misconception from the history of organizational structures which were only about profit making. This was drawn-out of from the general and individualistic selfish nature of every man but our eyes have been opened, even wider in this 21st century, that the interest of public/environment (as stakeholders) should be accorded a higher place that the bottom which it is presently.
In the nearest future it would be dawn on us all, even though we may pretend or refuse it, that the public or environmental interest should be given the same- bracket level of preferential attention or accordance as thus the Board of Directors. This is owed to the overtime realization of organization in relation to the communities in which they are sited. This realization which is now getting globalised exposits that an organization need not narrow its organization goals and operations to their customers alone (economic goals) but also to consider the peace and general good of mankind in light of their all operations geared towards profit making. Now, profits are increasingly qualified by questions of public importance and significance because the success of firms may depend to a large extent on their public image.
We ought to acknowledge that organizations are just like human beings. No one would want to leave is head blossoming while his leg is stricken. Likewise, a firm cannot exist in isolation from the society just as human being cannot exist in isolation from another. It would be unfair for an organization to carry out its business of proving goods and services by using raw materials, resources, labor, its serenity or conductivity, element of nature and even other instruments of civilization like statues and laws which protects the company and its business without giving back a quantum in societal responsibility to the community in which it is situated.
The menace of militancy which almost swept the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria off her feet was inceptionized by the deficiency or failure of foreign oil corporations to carry out their Corporate Social Responsibility to the community in which they enjoyed everything; from their land, vegetation, waters, climate, labor, protection polices, security and most important their crude oil. The region minority ethnic groups felt they were being exploited, particularly the Ogoni and Ijaw community. The conflict which brewed took a dimension that got many quivering. The region became symbolized with vices like violence, insurgency, kidnapping, hostage-taking, oil pipeline vandalism, crude-oil theft, internecine struggles and all sorts. Till tomorrow the land of waters in communities remain an eyesore and of no use to the people as they have been irredeemably contaminated with the crude oil spillage- all owed to the negligence or ignorance of companies to carry out their social responsibilities.
However, the delivery or rendering of Corporate Social Responsibility by organizations could take different tones and coloration; The Managing Director of Nigeria Breweries Plc, Mr. Nicolaas Vervede, explains that the company’s partnership with Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop is due to their desire to encourage the development of literary writing skill in Nigeria as part fulfillment of their corporate social responsibility. The Creative Writing Workshop fronted by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, the author of Half of a Yellow Sun is also a form of Corporate Social Responsibility upheld the by author’s vision. In her words, ‘my vision for this workshop is to create a space for talented Africans, because my vision is not only for a Nigerian space but Pan-African space where we can come together and receive what is critical artistes’ valediction’ while speaking during the end of the sixth edition of workshop.
In the same vein, the recent scourge of Ebola that crept into the Nigerian space from West Africa arose the action of Corporate Social Responsibility from most organizations which was carried out via massive creation of awareness and education of the virus. Similarly, the ‘Bringbackourgirls’ campaign whose awareness went round the globe is part of the understanding of the depth of corporate social responsibilities all around the world.
On the contrary, it became no longer business as usual for smokers in Lagos State since the government made arrangements to enforce the law on public smoking from august, 2014 though the smoking bill was signed into law by the Governor Babatunde Fashola in February of the year. The law went as far as describing the contextual meaning ‘public places’ but also exerts that sending a child to buy a cigarette is punishable by law. Actions and polices in this form ordinarily should also be the call of the manufacturers of such products under the umbrella of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
Attitude of firms to their employees; workers protection polices; concessionaries arrangements to workers/public; funding of public facilities; subsidized rate for general public services; avoidance of manufacturing products detrimental to public health e.g. cigarettes, weapon; avoidance of pollution to the environment ; balancing of company policies with national peace and environmental policies; relationship of companies with political parties; whether or not to export or import from some particular countries or region ;whether to use indigenous workers or expatriates, the level at which to adopt the use technology in comparison to human labor, vacations/ study abroad schemes for workers; eco friendly policies; charity services; situation of a company in rural area to enhance its development and what-a-view are all channels by which cooperate social responsibility are operational.
In closing, it should be noted that the consequence of the neglect of corporate social responsibilities by organization is in evitable. If the organizations do not make it happen the government would be pushed to the corner perform them even though it may be more complicated then- like we saw in the case of Niger-Delta Crisis which was lately curbed my amnesty grant. This goes for the menace of the Boko Haram too. It is advisable for the government to comprehensively revise and re-constitutionize the Corporate Social Responsibility policies to further commit organizations to their social responsibilities and enforce it. More so, it is advisable for firms to keep Social Responsible Audit and heed to this altar call for a better Nigeria.

Author: Adebiyi Adeyemi, a serving Youth Corps member and wrote in from adebyiadeyemi@outlook.com

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