Perspectives on Best Practices of Sustainable Corporate Responsibility Dr Uwem E. Ite BSc (Uyo, Nigeria), MPhil & PhD (Cambridge, UK) P O Box 690 Uyo, 520001 Akwa Ibom State Nigeria E-mail: [email protected] Tel: +234 803 8758775 or +234 802 4444653 Introduction Business enterprises have responsibilities to the wider society, and not only to their shareholders. Descriptions of role of business in the society include: corporate responsibility, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, ethical corporation good corporate governance; corporate philanthropy corporate social responsiveness. Defining CSR “The continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large.” (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2000) “Operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business”. (Business for Social Responsibility, 1998) Drivers of CSR Values - a value shift has taken place within businesses where they not only feel responsibility for wealth creation but also for social and environmental goods. Strategy - being more socially and environmentally responsible is important for the strategic development of a company. Public Pressure - pressure groups, consumers, media, the state and other public bodies are pressing companies to become more socially responsible. Corporate Benefits of CSR Building a strong corporate reputation, image and clout as well as strengthen brand positioning, Attracting and retaining a motivated workforce, Reducing risks and operating costs, Reducing regulatory oversight by working closely with regulatory agencies to meet or exceed guidelines, Increased appeal to investors and financial analysts. Building strong community relationships with organizations and agencies that can provide technical expertise. Key Components of CSR Best Practices Strategic Partnerships Partnership = new development approach favoured by the multilateral and bilateral donor community, industry, public and private sector organizations. Advantages include pooling resources, building respect and understanding between potential adversaries, and transferring knowledge. Tri-sector partnerships requires business, government and civil society to pull together complementary resources. Stakeholder Engagement Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have a vested interest in a company’s operations, who interact with a company in one or more of its activities and whose co-operation or active involvement a company needs for its ‘license to operate’. Engagement methods include consultation papers, perception surveys, stakeholder workshops, public and private meetings, liaison groups and academic roundtables. The overall success of the engagement process will depend to a large extent on corporate communication. Public Sector Support a) Mandating - define minimum standards for business performance. b) Facilitating - provide incentives for companies to engage with the CSR agenda. c) Partnering - act as participants, convenors or facilitators. d) Endorsing - direct recognition of the efforts of individual enterprises through award schemes or ‘honourable mentions’ in speeches by top government officials. Examples of CSR Best Practices Starbucks, USA Leading retailer, roaster and band of specialty coffee in the world Has more than 12,000 companyoperated and licensed locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Starbucks, USA Entered into partnership with Conservation International in 1998. The aim was to promote the adoption of agricultural practices that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices (C.A.F.E. Practices) offer incentives to suppliers who demonstrate independently verified performance of environmental and social criteria. C.A.F.E. Practices has become a model for addressing environmental and social concerns through a company's supply chain. Statoil, Venezuela Statoil ASA was a Norwegian petroleum company established in 1972, now part of StatoilHydro. Had negative experience involving human rights issues in several countries, including Venezuela. This prompted its subsequent selection of human rights as a core value of its business and the focus of its CSR program. Statoil, Venezuela Partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Amnesty International to train local judges on basic human rights and the legal processes in 1999. Statoil made significant financial contributions for the training, but maintained a low profile by monitoring progress rather than trying to control the programme. The reformed judicial system in 2001 was accompanied by new legislation with a stronger human rights focus and a new penal code. UNDP found the Venezuelan project as ‘a best-practice case’, for possible replication in other countries. Conclusions CSR is an increasingly important part of the business environment. Companies developing and implementing their policies must take the socio-cultural context into consideration. CSR needs to be integrated in core business strategies and should not be seen as an add-on. CSR is not a replacement for the rightful role of democratic governments to set regulatory frameworks for the benefit of the society and their people.