Business News of Monday, 12 November 2012
Government needs to enact pragmatic policies that will make it attractive for corporate organisations to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, Ms. Ivy Arcos, Africa Representative of the Canada Export Centre, has said.
“Instead of treating corporate entities as ‘cash-cows’ ready to be milked, government should see corporate entities as developmental partners with the resources and capabilities to help government fulfil its social obligations to its citizens.
“For example, government should not hesitate to use the hyper-efficient supply-chains of organisations to deliver aid and assistance to disaster-hit areas.
“In return, government should reward organisations with incentives such as tax-breaks and/or other innovative programmes.”
Ms. Arcos said this at the second annual CSR conference in Accra under the theme “Mainstreaming Emerging Issues of Corporate Social Responsibility into Organisational Behaviour in Ghana”. It was organised by CSR Foundation in collaboration with Global Compact Network Ghana.
“Whereas developed nations like Canada, USA, and Germany have well-structured corporate social responsibility programmes, the reverse is true when it comes to most parts of sub-Saharan Africa,” she said.
“The benefits of CSR are not just limited to big organisations. As with good corporate governance practices, CSR is equally relevant to smaller companies as, fundamentally, they both draw upon the same universal principles of accountability, honesty, transparency, and sustainability.
“For any CSR programme to really succeed, it is incumbent upon the CEOs, board-members, and senior management like you present today to provide the needed leadership.
“To achieve lasting success, the attitudes and daily practices of every member of society need to change. As key players in society, businesses can set a powerful example."
She explained that the corporate sector has some of the brightest minds in the world, and possesses tremendous financial resources.
In some cases, the corporate sector is also better positioned to mobilise in ways that complement government initiatives. Such moves can be done within the framework of a public-private partnership (PPP).
She commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for recently establishing a Cleaner Production Centre (CPC) in Tema.
The purpose, she explained, is to encourage industries and companies to go green by providing advice on cleaner production techniques that help to reduce the impact on the environment while maximizing profit. In essence, it is to help advance the cause of sustainable development.
Such initiatives demonstrate government’s commitment to promoting sustainable development, she said.
CSR is commonly described by its promoters as aligning a company's activities with the social, economic and environmental expectations of its stakeholders.
It involves integrating ethical and responsible practices into a company’s business strategies and operations. CSR is not just about what a company does with the profits it makes; it’s about how a company makes its profits in the first place.
Mr. Benjamin Aryee, Chief Executive Officer, Minerals Commission, explained that the CSR programme in the country is still evolving and that it is a dynamic process of sustainable development.
The Commission, he said, is leading the development of a national framework to define guidelines for mining companies on how to carry out CSR programmes in the country.