Defining corporate social responsibility

A practice that goes beyond the usual business

Every weekend, some 20 out-of-school youths visit an office building in Quezon City to attend a whole day seminar. They are provided with learning modules and other reading material about business communication. It’s a 10-week crash course on the English language, personality development, public speaking, and project presentation.

The seminar is for free and the instructors are mostly managers and subject matter experts employed by a leading financial institution. Participants are nominated and chosen based on their collective household income or those families that can be considered less privileged.

The goal of the seminar is to equip participants with the right tool to develop their communication skills, to help them pass an interview and eventually land a job in business process outsourcing or in other industries that give high premium on the applicants’ ability to communicate well in English, both written and oral.

Apart from this weekly activity, employees of the financial institution participate in other well-meaning initiatives like volunteering in scientific studies conducted in Donsol, Sorsogon that find better ways to maintain water quality to ensure survival of the whale sharks. Independently, it has regular feeding and reading programs among public schools pupils, and tree planting, fun run and bloodletting initiatives, which are mostly conducted twice a year.

Corporate Social Responsibility’s social component also talks about the impact of the initiatives impact on communities than on the firm

Interestingly, none of these were heard in public or had been publicized in major dailies – no photo ops of the institution’s big bosses and their beneficiaries. Brian, who prefers to be called by his first name and one of the senior managers of the financial institution, which he asked not to be mentioned, explains: “While our main priority is to grow our business in the country, we also acknowledge our responsibility as a multinational company to give back.”

At the moment, Brian is part of a team that aims to cut down their Philippine sites’ carbon emission. They have implemented defined measures and see to it they are rolled out in different departments and each employee is aware of the mandate. They have even changed their suppliers that manufacture greener material.

A great amount of research has been dedicated to protect the marine life

“Our employees’ participation in any kind of events and programs is essential. Their unparalleled commitment defines the success of our projects. We conduct these activities sans publicity because it will defeat the purpose. You don’t help someone or do something meaningful and tell it to the whole world,” says Brian.

The financial institution that has business interests across the region, Europe and North America divides its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities into three components: finance, operations and communities. They address environmental, social and ethical developments, which present risks or opportunities for the business contributes to its financial success. Employees and executives are not impelled to participate. Involvement is voluntary.

Numerous initiatives are in place to maintain the quality of water in Donsol, Sorsogon to ensure survival of the ocean’s gentle giants

Reports are sent not to the media but to its business partners. A monthly newsletter is sent to its employees and to its customers and stakeholders via email and every case study conducted is available on its website.

“We rely on word of mouth. The business grew like that. We protect the interest of our business partners, we make our employees feel proud to be working with us, and we satisfy our clients and customers by making them realize they chose a company with a conscience – a company that takes its non-business activities seriously, too,” the executive furthers.

Apart from the environmental component, companies invest on communities through bloodletting and reading programs

He expounds on creating an overall positive reputation because it’s how their business expands. In every corporate policy implemented and business partnership undertaken, there are underlying economic, social and environmental benefits considered. It is a significant opportunity to generate value and discuss what the company can do more to sustain its business not just for next few years. It’s basically about building its business for the long term.

And as a financially powerful company, it sees it position as an essential means to promote positive social and environmental change, to encourage both its competition, companies in other industries, and start-up businesses to follow suit.

Multinational companies, including start up businesses, are committed to decreasing their carbon footprint

“So, when we talk about CSR, it’s all about sustainability, which means building our business for the long term by balancing social, environmental and economic considerations in the decisions we make,” concludes Brian.

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