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CSR locomotive of sustainable development

CSR locomotive of sustainable development
Sunday 24 November , 2019
By Dr Ahmed Samir Farag, Executive Director of the Egyptian Consumer Protection Agency and board member of the Egyptian Competitiveness Authority - - | Edited by Marwa Nassar
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under ISO 26000 promotes the three main  economic, social and environmental axes (Triple  Bottom Line) upon which the Sustainable Development Goals depend
  • The companies’ adoption of CSR strategies helps gaining competitive advantage and affects employees’ satisfaction as well as customers’ loyalty.

 

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has always stressed in his speeches the importance of private sector companies’ commitment to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) role as this would alleviate the impact of the urgent social and economic reforms being carried out by the state.

It is quite clear that the modern CSR concepts go far beyond the standpoint adopted by Arab countries which still believe that CSR is a philanthropic action targeting certain fields, including supporting orphanages, poor families, the agricultural sector, etc. These outdated concepts were abandoned since the 1970s as states moved ahead from adopting strategies of such stage (which is called philanthropic-motivated CSR) to the stage of (responsibility-motivated CSR) where CSR is adopted by companies as a general system depending on innovative solutions and complying with ISO 26000 –   a standard providing guidance on integrating social responsibility into a company or organization. ISO 26000 takes into consideration three main pillars (economic, social and environmental pillars) or the so-called Triple Bottom Line (TBL) with its key seven activities (institutional governance, human rights, work and environmental practices, fair employment practices, and contribution to social development).

Looking deep inside, one can find that these axes go in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which necessitate rallying up all efforts of the government, private sector, civil society and individuals to attain these goals. Each of these contributors has a pivotal role to play to achieves SDGs.

Undoubtedly, the companies’ shouldering of their responsibility towards themselves on the one hand and towards beneficiers on the other hand is manifested in the adoption of one of the most important strategies; namely Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. The CSR strategy is not about philanthropic action, loss or profit spending, it is, however, about achieving direct gains from adopting CSR. This has been proved in a recent scientific study conducted in Egypt in auto-assembly companies. According to the study, the companies gain customers’ loyalty and satisfaction through adopting the CSR strategy. Added to this, the studies conducted in various international markets came up with the same results.

Therefore, companies’ adoption of such strategy will help them gain advantages in the face of their competitors at two levels; interior and exterior. At the interior level, the companies will gain the satisfaction of their employees and this will have many positive effects, topped by productivity. At the external level, the companies will gain loyalty of their customers and, hence, this will positively impact products’ marketing and the customers’ standpoint vis-à-vis the company as a socially responsible firm.

The broad vision of CSR in accordance with ISO 26000 sets high standards for the companies’ ability to pinpoint social needs and the participation of several beneficiers in serving sustainable development issues. The matter requires comprehensive theoretical and administrative frameworks to decide the impact of the CSR on SDGs.

The Sustainable Development Goals secures an all-out working mechanism for CSR to have a better future. The SDGs should be used as general framework for developing CSR to create common value and assess the positive impact of the SDGs, particularly with regard to reducing poverty, improving living conditions, developing health and educational services, confronting improper consumption of resources and pollution and curbing human rights violations. Therefore, many international researches see SDGs as a framework for encouraging companies to engage in more CSR activities that would help accomplish SDGs.

After the 2008-2009 international economic crisis, the short shrift of CSR was brought to limelight, and, hence, adopting a common value for social activities became an exigency. Michael Eugene Porter – an American academic known for his theories on economics, business strategy, and social causes – .said focusing on creating a common value among stakeholders on the one side and among beneficiers (including clients, employees, governments, nongovernmental organizations, etc) leads to tangible contribution to sustainable development.

It is worth mentioning that there was a wide participation of private sector companies while drawing up the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 sub-goals. Under these goals, companies were lured to endorse socially responsible activities and report the impact of these activities on sustainability (Goal 12.6). In addition, private sector companies have to be engaged in partnerships with the public sector and civil society to attain Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 17).

Therefore, it is important to consider CSR and SDGs as two sides of the same coin with regard to the private sector companies’ role, despite the fact that the SDGs are public goals benefiting all parties, while CSR has direct gains in view of  companies’ support for society.

 

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