I came across a news item in the local newspaper where the President of Pakistan is commending an established company in oil and gas exploration industry of Pakistan for its stellar financial performance. The news item ends with an almost negligible mention of the said company’s “intended” contribution to the environment. This reminded me of Supreme Court’s notice last year to the oil and gas exploration businesses for non compliance of Corporate Social Responsibility . Today the same group is being lauded for its financial achievements at the cost of the environment and the society. The news intrigued me to conduct an online search for Corporate Social Responsibility values (under which the company dedicates its resources for the social and environmental good) of the businesses in Pakistan and unfortunately found that businesses take CSR frivolously. Why is it that businesses in Pakistan as in other developing countries fail to recognize CSR as an integral part of their standard operating procedures? The answers are simple and as you will see, so vulnerable.
The business community only takes care of maximizing return on the financial capital. After all this is what is taught in the business schools. Maximize the profits and think of ways of increasing the shareholders value. CSR is just a lip service with a few lines of sweet talk under the “About us” tab on the business webpage but in most cases the businesses don’t even bother mentioning it. An oil and gas company of Pakistan is a major suspect. Under its Risk management tab, only financial risks are covered. The businesses are obsessed with economic growth. The consumer is obsessed with materialistic consumerism. Sustainable development is taken as a frivolous topic, assuming that its the headache of the big economies. This is the biggest angst which sustainable development is facing in Pakistan and likewise other developing countries. Business community cannot ignore the huge costs of adaptation that Pakistan is facing in the name of climate change, droughts, floods, energy crisis. We are paying dearly for which we are not responsible. But if we continue to ignore this crisis, Pakistan will be at the most risk. We need the business community more than anything else to be part of the solution than a burden. The businesses need to recognize the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility . India has stepped up on this issue by making spending on CSR activities mandatory earlier this year. In the West, the rules of the business are changing altogether infact going one step ahead. Peter Bakker, President of World Business Council for Sustainable Development has called for all CSR departments and jobs to wrap up. There is a ®evolution taking place in Capitalism. Businesses are being encouraged to integrate sustainability as a tool for measuring return on social and human capital. The focus needs to move from being growth obsessed to livelihood obsessed.
Consultants, thinkers, scholars,writers, visionaries have to jump in this bandwagon of behavioral change before it gets too late. The businesses have to understand that if they measure, manage and optimize the social, environmental and natural capital along with the financial capital, they can earn profits. Research studies have shown that CSR leads to better customer services and motivated employees. What do the businesses fear losing?Let the government and the civil society facilitate the businesses and keep a check on them and on each other so that the businesses can grow and do what they are best at doing i.e earn profits. Lets own this war before it is too late.