Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CSR not just for good times

Sun Star Cebu
July 18, 2008

CORPORATE social responsibility (CSR) is more vital when there is a slowdown in the economy.

Jose Antonio Aboitiz of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Visayas Executive Committee said CSR programs should not be limited only to “times of plenty.”

“If the companies are hurting a bit (when the economy is not good), then more so the community,” he said in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

Aboitiz, together with other members of the PBSP Visayas Executive Committee, opened a four-day CSR expo yesterday as part of the organization’s 20th anniversary celebration at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall.

The expo aims to promote the CSR efforts of PBSP and to invite more companies to take part by investing in the different products of PBSP-assisted cooperatives, community-based organizations and the micro, small and medium enterprises in the Best of Visayas Trade Fair.

Aboitiz confirmed that there has been a slowdown in CSR efforts among PBSP’s member-companies in the region not only because of the current economic situation. He said CSR efforts are now competing with sponsorship activities for conventions, concerts and even class reunions—activities which Aboitiz referred to as “less noble and less altruistic in purpose.”


“It has become harder and harder to get companies to support (social progress),” he added.

He said, though, that CSR efforts are not just about giving of funds for different projects. For one, a company may align its business practices towards being more responsible to the community it serves. He added that companies can also encourage its employees to volunteer in CSR projects.

During the opening expo, PBSP also introduced its coffee table book project dubbed, “A Better Life, Stories of Corporate Social Responsibility.” The book, which is set to be released in the first quarter of next year, features over 200 full color pages showing the different success stories of PBSP projects.

The proceeds of the book sale will go to an unrestricted funding for the Visayas group to be spent on programs in the region. The programs include “orphan projects” or those that need to be done but nobody wants to do,” Aboitiz said.

Yesterday afternoon, Aboitiz also gave a talk on “Corporate Citizenship 101,” where he clarified that CSR is not just for large corporations but is a cooperative effort of the government, civil society, the private sector and media. (DME)


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