Adequacy of corporate social responsibility in Nigeria
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as it is known can be defined as the communal responsibility of a corporate organization towards its host community(ies) and in some other way, the society in which it does/carries out business. It is also a company’s way of giving back to the society/host communities which it benefits from, which is also mutual/synergic/symbiotic partnership. It is done through welfare projects – such as provision of portable drinking water, good/quality health care facilities, rural electrification, low cost housing, education, upgrading/ provision of school facilities, beautification of streets/highways and provision of employment opportunities for the educated/skilled or through technical/vocational skills and Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) etc.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also synonymous with the third (3rd) cardinal programme of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, in forms of employment/empowerment programmes like: the Industrial Skills Training Programme (ISTP), Special Public Works Programme (SPW) of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE); the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP)/N Power programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to Mallen Baker through the website, www.mallenbaker.net,Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is all about how companies and other corporate organizations manage their business processes to produce an overall positive impact on host communities/society. It is then the purposeful inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making.
All over the world, it is expected that firms will perform corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with specific target to the need of its community and other stakeholders. An example of such is Wrigley’s Oral Health Care Programme whereby Wrigley, whilst enhancing orbit, encourages oral health practices in children through a school based educational programme in China and a patient outreach programme in Poland.
In Nigeria, companies and other corporate organizations are involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a platform to connect with the people and their environment. While, some companies have identified education as one of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platforms and helping to boost educational development through sponsorships by awarding scholarships and upgrading of school facilities in general, others have lent a hand in providing support in upgrading public infrastructure such as roads and other viable/valuable projects.
However, a number of companies or corporate organizations have misconstrued marketing gimmicks and sales promotion as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility,(CSR),reaching out to insignificant portion of the society. It is interesting to note that all manners of marketing communications tools such as events sponsorships are beginning to wear the toga of Corporate Social Responsibility from the Promoters’ standpoint. A closer look into the trend in our society today reveals the advent of reality shows which has become an all-comer affair. While some of these shows are commendable, it is worth mentioning that the huge amount often committed into the making of the shows will serve a better purpose if channeled towards educational endeavours and intellectual development.
In order to maximize the benefit of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the community and the attendant goodwill for the organization, it is imperative that a corporate entity identifies the platform through which it desires to connect to its host community. This should be driven by the identified and compelling needs of the people. Such needs which must have an enduring impact in the lives of the people can be identified through engagement with the stakeholders’ for a mutually beneficial experience of all parties.
Educating the youths is creating a sure hope for the nation. Whatever is done for this market segment is considered to have a long lasting impact which is capable of trickling down to generations beyond the immediate. A company committed to the educational development of the youth through the promotion and development of their intellectual capacity would have created an opportunity of a lifetime.
Companies may also channel their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives towards educational development with the provision of such amenities like: public libraries to encourage reading culture and also serve as resource centers. Organizing workshops and seminars with seasoned professionals for the youth might also rekindle the “good old days” where average youth genuinely seek for knowledge for personal development.
May be we could borrow a leaf from Coca-Cola. For the past thirteen (13) years, Coca-Cola Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Plc, has held free workshops and awards tailored towards boosting the intellectual and personal development of youths say campus Journalists – a loose network of undergraduates in various institutions across the country who regularly contribute stories and opinions to different pages/columns. For instance, CAMPUSLIFE, a weekly eight to ten pages pullout published every Thursday in The Nation Newspapers is devoted exclusively to undergraduates.
On a bi-annual basis, these students are usually trained in Journalistic techniques and are taught the essence of expressing their thoughts and ideas through writing. The best write-ups or articles are then given awards to encourage them to keep writing and believing in themselves. The consequence of this is that it is creating a passionate and courageous army of youths that would always radiate confidence that they are contributing to the society in their own little way; quite a number of them tilt towards the career of Journalism as a result.
It is great to do Corporate Social Responsibility when it is designed to impact lives and contribute meaningfully to the society. A responsible corporate organization should not just be seen to be engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but such activities must be well articulated to engender desired goodwill for the organization too.
For an effective and impacting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), community-based development approach might be the route, particularly for a developing nation like Nigeria where there is a dearth of skill set among the youth. The youth represents our future as a nation; a well-defined approach to their welfare via Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives will have a major role to play in shaping their future.