Corporate Social Responsibility And Government

According to Wikipedia, “Corporate Social Responsibility is the deliberate inclusion of Public Interest into corporate decision-making, that is, the core business of the company or firm, and the honouring of a triple bottom line: people, planet, profit.” The term has been around since the 1960s and today, CSR is more relevant than ever in the context of the global economic crisis.  The European Commission cites that CSR can help build – and rebuild – trust in business, which is vital for the health of any nation’s market economy. It can also point to new forms of value creation based on addressing societal challenges, which may represent a way out of the crisis.

Europe is not alone. Across the globe, governments in progressive societies are recognising their integral roles and responsibilities in facilitating social change and sustainability for future generations. This represents a shift away from the traditional perspective that Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is a commitment by only the private sector to contribute to sustainable economic development.

CSR has become increasingly important as a policy framework for the way corporate entities conduct business, creating an acceptable benchmark or standard for nation building.

As CSR matures, national policies and frameworks are being engineered to address issues such as the Environment, Business Ethics, Fair trade, Accountability and Measurement of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), which impact on the way societies operate. Locally, the move toward a national policy framework would be consistent with the adoption by Trinidad and Tobago of ISO 26000 Standard on Social Responsibility.  It is important for nations, in order to be relevant to their respective developmental goals, to give consideration to the development of  Policy Frameworks that address Sustainability and Social Responsibility, as these are necessary for national competitiveness and branding.

In today’s world Government’s participation in CSR is supported by the fact that foreign investors are attracted to nations which operate responsibly, support good governance, anti-corruption and a robust, responsible business sector.  These are perceived as more attractive and secure investment ‘safe havens’ for new business development.

More so than developing national competitiveness, the Government’s involvement aids in building long-term sustainability of local CSR agendas, inspiring new strategies to address gaps in public sector capacities and create synergies through partnerships to achieve public policy goals related to sustainable development. These can be achieved through the various roles of director, exemplar, enforcer, enabler and partner that the Government can play.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s CSR Committee was established some three years ago to address these pertinent issues, to propagate Learning, Advocacy and Technical Training and to support members and stakeholders in embracing and understanding the Role of CSR. On 4th October, 2011 we will delve deeper into the conversation regarding “CSR and Government: Bystander, Follower or Leader?” during a breakfast meeting beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Chamber headquarters in Westmoorings.  The session will host the Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry and the Honourable Minister of Housing and the Environment along with members of the private sector. We encourage and welcome the participation of Government institutions, corporate planners, HSSE, HR and Corporate Communications specialists, NGO’s and CBO’s involved in community and nation building. Interested persons should contact the Chamber Secretariat at 637 6966.

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