Corporate social responsibility is the window through which companies ensure that they carry out their business in an ethical manner, making sure that their impact is felt on a social, economic and an environmental level. But the question is to what extend can they carry out this corporate social responsibility and what really motivates them.
We live in a highly capitalist world today and the main reason behind the existence of any business, no matter how big or small it may be is gain and making as much money as possible, to the extent of sometimes overlooking the consequences of this insatiable appetite for money. Nonetheless, some companies make an effort to regulate their practices and make them socially responsibility.
HOW SOME COMPANIES PRACTICE CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?
Every company has their own way of being socially responsible in their dealings. Nonetheless, some of their major areas of interest are as follows
Sustainable development and the environment
Most companies in Africa strive to minimise the effects of their business procedures on the environment in which they operate. Dangote Cement, strives to minimize the environmental impact of their operations, from mining to the production of cement. Dangote Cement is considered as one of the greenest cement company across because it prioritises pollution control, by putting in place means to reduce the emission of dust into the atmosphere, in line with national and international statutory guidelines. Dangote also uses different fuel options to minimize the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by using natural gases.
BUILDING SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS WITH WORKERS AND THE SOCIETY AT LARGE
Some companies’ CSR prioritizes their relationship with employees and the society in which they operate. This is to reduce conflict with employees and also with the inhabitants of the communities they carry out their businesses in. A company like The Bolloré Group is very much aware of the fact that its financial performance and growth is dependent on its employees, who work hard to ensure that objectives are achieved. In this light Bolloré offers internal career management and development opportunities. They also provide good health care services and improved working conditions for employees. Bolloré also ensures that good ethical practices and respect for human rights are followed by all its employees. The company as locations in 143 countries in the world, resulting to a highly diversified workforce. As a result, it strives to ensure that each employee is respected no matter their race or origin.
On the part of the society, most companies promote and sustain friendly relationships with the communities, so as to minimize conflict and resistance. The most common CSR projects that most companies carry out is providing access to portable water sources for communities and fostering education and healthcare by building/and or equipping schools and hospitals. Source du Pay SA (Supermont) built water taps along the wall of its company’s gate so the population of Muyuka in the Southwest region of Cameroon can have portable water. Other companies like MTN promote education by offering scholarship programs to students in the countries where they operate.
DO THESE COMPANIES REALLY PRACTICE CSR?
Taking into consideration the fact that every relationship today is on a give and take basis, no matter the parties involved, everybody want to maximize what they take and minimize what they give in return.
This is the case with most companies operation in Africa, whose CSR practices are fuelled by selfish interests and greed. Their main aim to take more than they are willing to give. In this light, CSR is considered as a cover for capitalist interests of most companies who only think of money and benefits.
Some companies’ CSR practices are aimed at retaining employees and also creating an extensive and faithful consumer base. They try as much as they can to make their employees (especially the most important) comfortable, by giving them a handsome salary package, accommodation, a car, paid leaves and many others. This makes some employees to think they cannot receive better treatment anywhere else and encourages them to work harder so as to please the boss and always gain favour in his sight.
Other companies refurbish and equip schools and hospitals, carry out philanthropic activities, sometimes not because they really care about the people they deal with, but just to build a good public image and name.
Some companies are not very bothered about the ecosystem, and their environmental protection policy is just a farce. This is the case with companies involved in mining and forest exploitation. Such companies generally take without giving back, as natural resources taken out of Africa cannot be replaced. Looking at this situation you realize that no amount of CSR can replace or substitute what these companies take out of Africa.
Some companies are situation at the heart of the city in many countries. Their activities pollute the air, making life unbearable for the people living around them. A cocoa processing plant, an oil refinery or a cement factory situated in residential areas are a major cause for concern. Such companies pollute the air and damage the environment in the cause of carrying out their activities, no matter how much they try to prevent it.
While it is important for companies to operate in a country, due to the good things that follow as a result of their activities, they have to be mindful of the consequences of their actions so to make create a win-win situation for all parties concerned.
AFRIC Editorial article.