In recent years, increasing attention has been given by organizations to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Oman. Companies are deploying a growing number of CSR programs to deliver services and improvements to benefit their local community, and at the same time they are increasingly working with environmentalists and ecologists on environmental projects which benefit the Sultanate.
While CSR activity is hugely beneficial to the social and environmental fabric of Oman, it is one strand of a much larger concept becoming known as Corporate Responsibility or CR. Corporate responsibility as a concept is characterized as the responsiveness of a company to the good governance, transparency, legal, ethical, social and environmental expectations of its stakeholders.
In the era of transparent communications, pervasive media and sometimes cynical attitudes on how corporations, organisations and brands impact our day-to-day lives, the importance of responsible corporate citizenship, sustainability and a strategically planned CR program is more important than ever before. Notable examples of effective Oman based programs include: Shell’s Intilaaqah Enterprise Fund, The Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) and Bank Sohar’s ‘Be Safe..Be Responsible’ Road Safety Campaign – all great examples of large corporations in Oman actively engaging with their community and making a meaningful contribution to the improvement of society at a grass roots level.
A major trend emerging globally is that organisations are starting to take a more ‘integrated’ approach to seeing corporate responsibility as their guiding business plan and strategy. They take the approach of positioning their environmental and social performance directly alongside their financial performance indicators, measuring company performance directly against profit, the treatment of people and community plus the ecological footprint their operations leave on the environment.
When we talk about good corporate citizenship, we mean a company or organisation that operates in a thoughtful, ethical and responsible manner in their community. A company that values their local community, values people and their jobs, values the welfare of the less fortunate among us, and uses those values to meaningfully engage within the local community – that is a company which is regarded as a good corporate citizen. Planned social or environmental efforts in this regard have a direct and measurable bearing on that company’s perception, reputation, and very often their ongoing financial success. Likewise, research shows that the employees of companies which enjoy a reputation as good corporate citizens are more engaged, loyal and more productive.
The challenge that many companies face when mapping out a strategically relevant program is that corporate responsibility as a concept has a somewhat vague definition and often takes on different meanings to different people. Managers previously corralled a myriad of activities under the blanket ‘catch-all’ definition of CSR. Take philanthropy for example, this concept is regularly interchanged with corporate responsibility. Philanthropy strictly speaking is not the same thing and at best is only one part of a strategically planned corporate responsibility program.
So how are the growing number of organizations responding to this challenge? They initiate a reporting framework which is used to capture data, monitor and report on responsibility and sustainability in the key areas of economic, environmental, social and governance performance. And while there are presently no institutional courses to prepare candidates on how to deal with CR planning, strategy and issues management within corporations, the development and implementation of an effective CR program needn’t be a daunting task.
Good CR is not merely the donation of a percentage of company’s profits, it’s as much about getting involved with the community and understanding what a company – together with its community – needs in order to grow and prosper.
Source: James MacLeod/ZeenahPR
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