‘Be a responsible corporate citizen’By: SELMA SHIPANGA
THE contribution of businesses to the benefit of communities has a direct bearing on the productivity of these communities and the profitability of the private enterprises.
This was the message that came out at the first ever Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Conference held in the capital on Monday, under the theme ‘Taking CSR
From risk Management To Value Creation’.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Tjekero Tweya, said there is a growing awareness globally on the importance of the role which business communities should consider in contributing to the improvement in the overall welfare of the communities within which they operate.
“Investment by the business community in the promotion of social goods such as education and health can have a direct impact on the productivity of the community and profitability of the private sector. This contributes to the physical and mental health of the company’s employes, hence enhances social and human capital,” Tweya said.
CSR refers to the attention companies should give to community involvement, environmental protection, socio-responsible products and processes, as well as employee relations.
Tweya added that while governments are accountable to their citizens, business houses can also make a valuable contribution to society without heavily compromising their corporate objectives.
“Beyond improving the customer-company relationship, CSR can foster harmonious relationships between various stakeholders in a society. The business community in Namibia, are hereby challenged to make CSR an integral part of every business decision and action,” he said.
Tweya said companies should demonstrate corporate citizenship in what they are as a company, how they conduct business, how they take care of their employees, as well as in how they interact with the public at large.
The deputy minister said that one avenue through which good corporate citizenship can be encouraged among the business community is for companies to draft a code of conduct, which is aimed at regulating activities of an industry within the principles of responsible business, by requiring the signatories to uphold fundamental human rights, to respect the culture and customs of their employees and local communities affected by their actions.
“Integrate tenets of good corporate citizenship into corporate structures and processes, create innovative and pro-active CSR solutions, and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders on social challenges, and report and account for performance in this area,” he said
Touching on the topic of CSR and employment creation, FNB Namibia chief executive officer, Vekuii Rukoro said one way corporations could play an important role is by growing their business in order to employ more people, hence providing jobs and stimulating other businesses. “It is exactly this correlation between direct job creation and CSR that is currently hotly debated, but companies that are creating jobs that pay fair wages, with good working conditions and associated benefits are having a direct positive impact in communities and national economies,” he said.
He adds that companies should thus consider combining commerce and social development by incorporating social performance, more specifically poverty reduction, into their CSR strategies.
“CSR could be an effective medium for companies to reach low income consumers, turn them into entrepreneurs who become self-employed and employ others and thereby alleviating poverty in society. Business has a critical role to play in transforming society on a sustainable basis,” he said.