CSR in the PH: An evolution based on service to others
CORPORATE social responsibility, or more popularly known as CSR in the Philippines, has significantly evolved in the past several decades.
According to the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), one of the country’s most active CSR organizations, consumers today have a higher regard for companies that engage in CSR activities.
“Consumers tend to patronize companies which do CSR because of the perception that they too are being given the chance to give back by buying a product or availing of a service of such companies,” said Jerome Daclison, PBSP corporate affairs’ head.
He said all generations, not just millennials, are now drawn to companies that give back to communities.
“On Facebook, you may notice that the sponsored videos that go viral are those that feature stories of changed lives, or people being helped in some way or another,” Daclison added.
He said many companies prefer to embark on CSR initiatives on education (scholarship assistance), environment (tree-planting, installation of potable water systems in waterless communities), disaster response and recovery, and livelihood projects (skills building, micro-financing, and provision of tools, equipment and training).
“There are many companies today that do strategic CSR that benefits both their companies and their target beneficiaries. When companies involve their adopted communities into their core operations, they are able to easily get support and cooperation from the latter for their business activities,” he said.
Daclison explained that for companies that address national issues, they do not only help solve systemic problems, but also meet their needs for human resource, increase their product sales and profit.
“For example, a company which is into curriculum development lends its technical expertise to help produce qualified graduates that meet industry demands. This, in turn, will also ensure them a steady supply of competent human resource,” he said.
He cited as example another company which is selling environment-friendly paint. This company does not only help reduce pollution, but also strives to boost its product sales and gain more profit.
CSR awareness among Philippine businesses began in the 1960s, with them giving donations in cash directly to foundations and other charitable organizations.
A decade later, in the 1970s, the country suffered from a socio-economic turmoil and the business environment was on a survival mode. It was during this time that PBSP was founded.
Daclison said PBSP founding member companies at that time vowed to collectively bring together their resources in contributing to social development.
“In the past, corporate social responsibility was more confined to philanthropic endeavors or the usual one-time dole-outs to communities in need. Today, companies are responding to the call to do more strategic interventions that require inter-industry collaboration to provide a more sustainable solution to societal problems in the country,” Daclison said.
He said Philippine companies have also seen the value of adopting the Inclusive Business model, where the poor or those at the Base of the Pyramid are integrated in a company’s core business operations or value chain either as employees, consumers or suppliers.
“The new millennium drove companies to answer the call for business sustainability. These have led to businesses viewing social development not only as an add-on activity, but as an integral part of their business operations,” the official said.
“To support the business sector in addressing these challenges, PBSP continues to enable both member and non-member companies to implement their own CSR programs and integrate them into their core business,” he said.
PBSP, the core group composed of 50 of the country’s leading businessmen joined together in the 1970s to form the biggest corporate-led, not-for-profit organization in the country.
Today, PBSP’s membership has grown to 274 (composed of local, multinational and small and medium companies).
“PBSP member-companies allocate financial, in-kind and human resources to support and sustain various development programs across the country,” said Daclison.
He said the main CSR strategy during the 1980s was community relations or COMREL as companies needed to secure a license to operate in the community.
PBSP, at that time, has moved on to building self-reliant communities.
“In the 1990s, companies were driven more by the need to enhance competitive advantage and reputation capital. Towards the end of the decade, businesses began to engage in more strategic social investment and mainstream corporate social responsibility in their business practices,” he said.
In the last 20 years, PBSP member-companies contributed a total of P1.2 billion to the organization to support its programs.
“Likewise, at any given time, CEOs actively participate in the board and program committees to help shape policy directions and govern the organization. Members commit themselves to a set of principles that embody collective action to embrace the higher purpose of business,” he said.
Daclison said BSP encourages its companies to embark on more strategic initiatives that will yield sustainable impact/results in their adopted communities, as well as help solve complex problems in the country.
“PBSP has become the vehicle of the business sector in delivering organized, professional and sustainable assistance to underprivileged sectors, namely: the landless farmers, fisherfolk, rural workers, urban poor, and indigenous cultural communities. It is the leading advocate on the practice of CSR and corporate citizenship in the country,” he said.
Today, PBSP has taken various roles as facilitator, fund manager, capacity builder, and technology provider.
“As facilitator, it orchestrates the actions of key players by developing or initiating multi-sectoral partnerships based on transparency, mutual trust and equity and the sharing of resources. As fund manager, PBSP ensures that funds are used and accounted for properly. PBSP’s sound financial condition is a result of dramatic growth in assets in the 1990s and aggressive resource mobilization as PBSP gained credibility in the local and international NGO community,” he said.
He said that as capacity builder, PBSP helps build social structures in communities to facilitate development efforts by conducting training that leads to core group building, creating PBSP-like organizations, developing CSR technologies and enabling its members to develop and implement CSR.
PBSP is also a technology provider whose mandate is to innovate CSR programs, tools and frameworks responsive to issues and concerns of companies and communities.