CSR with integrity

CSR with Integrity

31 May 2011

Managing For Society, The Manila Times

Last May 24, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) launched the 2nd MAP CSR Leadership Challenge. MAP began the Challenge in 2009 to encourage its members to embrace CSR and go beyond the customary corporate philanthropy that we see. MAP President Felino “Jun” Palafox has explained that the Challenge “aims to promote CSR as an important and integral part of good management practice, inspire MAP members and other top executives to improve their practice and set the bar for the practice of CSR in the country, and recognize companies that exemplify what it means to be a true corporate citizen through their CSR programs.” During the first Challenge, Manila Water won the main award for having CSR programs that were most integrated into its core business. Companies were also awarded based on specific CSR achievements, such as Union Bank in education and Globe Telecom in enterprise development.

The local CSR movement has been steadily gaining visible support from various companies. CSR has come a long way since 2000 when the country began celebrating the first week of July as Corporate Social Responsibility Week based on a proclamation by President Estrada. The growth of interest has been helped by the continuing advocacies of not only MAP but also the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). From the international scene, the release of the ISO 26000 Guidance for Social Responsibility promises to encourage even more local companies to seriously look into social responsibility in their entire value chain. Local legislators are not far behind. A bill mandating the practice and reporting of CSR has been filed by the Arroyos in the lower house and by Villar in the Senate.

Still, there is lot of work to do among Philippine companies before CSR reaches the status of being an “integral part of good management practice” as envisioned by Palafox. Philanthropy and outreach remain the dominant forms of CSR. For this to change, a company needs to answer basic questions about its CSR programs. Should it promote its educational philanthropies while ignoring the educational needs of its own employees? Should it contribute to the upliftment of external communities while ignoring the upliftment of its own workers? Should it contribute to environmental causes while ignoring the impact of its own product packaging on the environment? A company that ignores such questions leaves its integrity open to question.

For this reason, and guided by its 2011 theme of “Mapping a Culture of Integrity”, the MAP CSR Committee, led by Chairman Junie de Guzman and board governor Lydia Sarmiento, has approved important refinements in the Challenge rules this year. Integrity in CSR implementation will not only be required for the main award but also for each special award category. For example, the Special Award for Health looks for “programs or policies/practices that improve health care for employees and in the local environment where the company operates.” What this means is that a nominated company that contributes to external community health care must be equally concerned about promoting health care within the company itself.

The understanding of CSR among local companies is slowly maturing. MAP’s push towards greater integrity in company CSR implementation is an important initiative towards this maturation process.

Dr. Benito Teehankee is associate professor and Chairman of the Management and Organization Department of De La Salle University. He is Co-Vice-Chair of MAP’s CSR Committee. He may be emailed at teehankeeb@yahoo.com. The views expressed above are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty and administrators.