Corporate Social Responsibility is the corporate sector buzz word these days. Since my engagement in the development of “Responsible Business Guide, A CSR Tool Kit”, I interacted with a sizable number of corporate players and tried to learn from their CSR strategy.
In this strive, I learnt two key lessons:
- For larger companies, CSR is about giving back to the society by improving the quality of their communities. They work with long term vision and try to ensure sustainability of their projects.
- For smaller companies, this is a luxury. These companies generally do not have a clear CSR vision, hence their CSR activities fall in the category of charity, which is absolutely unsustainable in the long run.
At times, CSR efforts are made in response to an immediate community needs, calamity or natural disaster. Regardless of the type of CSR initiatives, key is to focus and maintain the long-term approach and ensure sustainability.
Recently, I attended a blogger meet-up organized by Engro Corporation to share successes of their CSR initiatives. Engro is Pakistan’s one of the most prestigious private sector organization. The company has manufacturing facilities in economically deprived areas of Sind. Through their reputation and good work towards building strong communities, they have managed to bring partners to support their initiatives. Additionally, Engro Corporation also received funding from USAID that helped augment their program.
Engro Corporation’s key focus areas for CSR initiatives are health, infrastructure, water and sanitation, education and skill development, environment and livelihood enhancement. It was encouraging to learn that in late 2005, daily earning of people living in areas where Engro operates was Rs10/day only. With Engro’s education and skills development program, this increased to Rs 161 per day – Phenomenal increase!
Engro now wishes to take a leap with a new concept of recognizing “unsung heroes” – This initiative will identify and appreciate Pakistanies whose efforts are contributing in improving lives in economically deprived areas of the country. The focus is on initiatives in education, health and livelihoods, and rightly so, because these three are the most neglected community development programs in Pakistan that receive hardly any public money and also suffer from political influence and corruption.
It is a digital competition which will look at individuals and organizations doing commendable social and humanitarian work and learn about their best practices and innovative ideas.