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It’s Time To Streamline CSR Programmes In Nigeria, Say Analysts



Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG, Joseph Tegbe (left); Managing Director, Smile Communications, Michiel Buitelaar; Enterprise Director, Airtel, Tawa Bolarin; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Spectranet, David Venn; and CEO, MainOne, Funke Opeke, at the 2015 MainOne/Businessday Broadband Summit held in Lagos…recently.

ALTHOUGH no commonly accepted definition had been ascribed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which has increased in relevance since 1970s, one thing that most analysts agree on is the relevance of ethics, legality and transparency in all issues of corporate responsibility.

Today the push for “clean” CSR comes from a diverse group of affected parties that include owners, managers, employees, investors, consumers, business partners, communities and governments.

Often referred to as “corporate citizenship,” “sustainability,” or just “corporate responsibility,” CSR is unquestionably a phenomenon on the rise.

Although not without its critics, CSR has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years, raising hopes for the future. Beyond the primary objective of making profit, every organisation is expected to have a humanitarian and philanthropic responsibility.

According to research, economic responsibility still get the most emphasis while philanthropy is given second highest priority, followed by legal and then ethical responsibilities in Nigeria.

At different fora and events recently, industry experts highlighted lack of verifiable data and measurement, proper documentation, credibility, sustenance and robust government policy as some of the challenges to corporate responsibility in Nigeria.

Chairman of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Chief Keith Richards, while delivering his keynote speech at the 26th AGM/PR Week of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, (NIPR) Lagos State chapter, entitled: Corporate Social Responsibility: Prospects & Challenges in a Growing Economy, noted that many companies, especially, multinationals, produced glossy brochures on their CSR activities yet take decisions that have negative effect on the millions of people living in that community.

To him, if consistency, sustainability, relevance, credibility and affordability are tackled, promoters are on the path to developing a CSR programme.

Richards asserted that if an organisation has more than one CSR platforms, efforts should be made to ensure that they communicate consistent messages besides adopting the same approach.

Emerging markets such as South Africa and Brazil have become leaders in CSR reporting in the developing world. They have done so largely through the uptake of voluntary standards and the involvement of local stock exchanges.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), for example, became the first emerging market stock exchange to create a socially responsible investing (SRI) index in 2004.

Nigeria, which is now Africa’s biggest economy after the rebasing of its economy in 2013, is yet to have such in place. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of X3M Ideas, one of Nigeria’s fastest growing advertising agencies, Steve Babaeko, also called for proper streamlining of CSR programmes when he recently marked his company’s third year of operation with the reconstruction of restrooms for children at the Special Correctional Centres for Boys in Oregun, Lagos.

Speaking with journalists, Babaeko stressed that organisations need to take CSR as contribution to humanity rather than a burden. He said X3M Ideas took CSR as an important course from the moment the company started even when they were not so sure whether the firm will survive Nigeria’s harsh business climate.

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