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Working towards Sustainability

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CSR

Role of Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR is a powerful tool that can address the objectives of business and society at the same time. Although business cannot solve society’s problems or even bear the cost, they however can afford to approach social agenda pro-actively and strategically in a ‘win-win’ situation.

It’s been close to a decade now that the role of corporate philanthropy is being recognized for addressing socio-economic objectives. Customers value social performance along with economic performance and the concept of value adding or ‘social value’ depends not only on social benefits generated but also on resources expended.

Strategic CSR has the potential to change the world scenario through social value maximization. Companies with CSR agenda can use it to build long term competitiveness in business, for brand promotion and marketing. A good company with a reliable brand may increase it’s brand reliability and further it’s marketing strategies by adding a ‘social objective’ to its marketing objectives. This therefore requires a corporate level commitment on identifying social impacts where companies can make a significant contribution.

Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.

Corporate Social responsibility, defined by the European Commission says that it is a concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment...a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis. The diagram above illustrates this basic concept where there is integration of all stakeholders in society to generate maximum output or impact in the society.

The marriage of social and economic objectives have the prospects of realizing the best of socio-economic returns. CLF hopes to generate the momentum for CSR initiatives across the world by believing in this objective.

Case Studies from Selected Companies:

SAP

‘Here for Life’ is a not-for-profit public benevolent organization focusing on education, awareness and research aimed at the prevention of youth suicide. The organization provides resources, education and school based life skills programs to help prevent suicide amongst young people. Through its charity sponsorship program SAP Australia supports ‘Here for Life’ with monetary contributions, volunteering and staff involvement in the agency's programs.

Sun Microsystems

In 1998, Sun became Musica Viva's first and only principal sponsor. By associating itself with a leader in the IT industry, Musica Viva gains networking opportunities within the corporate sector, resulting in further sponsorship openings. It gains access to Sun's staff and customer base to increase awareness of Musica Viva's activities and performances, enabling it to achieve its own aims of taking the beauty of music into the lives of ordinary Australians and forging meaningful links between the arts and the corporate world. The exchange of expertise helps both partners. Sun provides its technological know-how and assists with market reach for Musica Viva, which in turn provides opportunities to give something back to Australia's cultural life through supporting and engaging with music in various ways.

IBM

IBM - Japan’s ‘e-elder’ initiative is a national program using training materials and other support from IBM Japan which will hire and train seniors as instructors for other seniors in an effort to help elder citizens (expected to make up one-fifth of Japan’s population by 2008) more fully participate in a Web-based society.

HP

In Singapore, HP staff raised nearly $295,000 for charity in 2003 and received a SHARE Gold Award from the Community Chest of Singapore for employee participation exceeding 50%. One event was Gladiathon, a fundraiser in support of the President's Challenge 2003. Leading by example was the Managing Director from HP Asia Pacific, who wore a gladiator costume and competed with other IT industry leaders in the battle for charity. HP was the largest corporate donor of this event, raising a total of $121,000.

Microsoft

Microsoft works closely with international organizations such as the World Food Programme, Save the Children, and Mercy Corps to provide technology-based development assistance through the HEART (Humanitarian Empowerment and Response through Technology) program. More and more, global organizations rely on technology to improve the effectiveness of their humanitarian efforts around the world.