Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Companies moving towards strategic corporate social responsibility

Published: Monday July 23, 2008

As businesses become more aware of the interdependency between themselves and their surrounding environment, local companies are moving towards strategic corporate social responsibility, a Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) survey has revealed.

The JEF survey, conducted between July and September 2007 on 240 companies - highlights that while areas of priority varied from entity to entity - all were seeking out opportunities to make social contributions.

"Corporate social responsibility is really beginning to be an important aspect of how companies do business in Jamaica," said Bridgette Levy, a consultant who was apart of a JEF commissioned team that conducted the survey.

Levy, who was presenting the contents of the survey at the Knutsford Court Hotel yesterday, added that the survey found that as companies grow and increase their profitability, more priority is made towards philanthropy.

The survey revealed that 50 per cent of companies make contributions towards education initiatives - 40 per cent on health education alone - while 81 per cent spend on community.

Other areas of focus were:

. Policy development, 20 per cent

. Child and human rights issues, 40 per cent

. Culture and arts, 28 per cent

. Disaster relief, 53 per cent

. Staff training, 75 per cent

. Health benefits, 70 per cent

. Product safety, 61 per cent

. and less than 20 per cent considered greenhouse gas admissions.

"Each company operationalises it differently but all were doing something within the key areas," noted Levy. "Every company wanted to ensure that they do everything in their power to make sure that the environment is safe and protected, and staff is very well taken care of."

The survey captured a wide range of Jamaican businesses in terms of age, size and profitability. Of the companies surveyed, 70 per cent were in business for over 10 years; 25 per cent had over 250 employees; 46 per cent had between six and 50 employees; 29 per cent had less than six employees; 10 per cent had revenues over $500 million and 25 per cent had revenues of $20 million or less.

The majority of the mainly private businesses were service providers, while the other categories were comprised of manufacturers, construction, transport and trading companies.

JEF president, Audrey Hinchcliffe, said that Jamaican businesses have gone for too long unrecognised for their contribution towards national development. She said that the results of the survey is indicative of employers' "immeasurable" activities.

"The colossal impact that the practice of corporate social responsibility has on a nation is immeasurable," said Hinchcliffe. "Essentially it epitomises the voluntary and kind actions of employers to their employees, the community and the environment."

Guest speaker, Ronnie Goldberg, International Organization of Employers (IOE) regional vice-president, encouraged Jamaican businesses to continue excecuting voluntary principles, and said that flexibility and innovation in activities will ensure effectiveness.

"Companies, individually or jointly with other stakeholders, must continue to develop additional corporate responsibility initiatives to address the evolving social expectations in business requirement," she said.

Source: Jamaica Observer

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