Today, the global trends require organisations to plainly define their role and consider their economic, social and environmental objectives. This is because in this era no organisation can thrive without taking into cognisance the concept of sustainable development.
Consequently, one-way organisations can achieve sustainable development in Kenya is through corporate social responsibility (CSR). This business concept continues to inform corporate strategies today, in terms of sustainable development. Unfortunately, most organisations are yet to appreciate the role CSR can play in fostering sustainable development objective.
Sustainable development encompasses the use of environmentally responsible and efficient operational practices that preserve environmental resources crucial for long-term business growth. In this case therefore, CSR means balancing responsible corporate citizenship and environmental responsibility to give back to the communities in which an organisation operate.
Organizations thus need to operate in a way that benefits society now and in the future and this can earn favour with its public’s. Conversely, ignoring expectations for responsible activities can lead to negative publicity, boycotts and general backlash from communities in which organisations operate. They should operate with fairness and honesty with public’s, give back to and actively participate in improving the lives of local communities. In Kenya for example, certain projects have failed to take-off or closed out due to issues of environmental impact and lack of appreciating the inputs of the local communities in terms of development. Such challenges can be cured through a robust CSR strategy with such communities.
Sadly, most organisations still view CSR as being limited to occasional charity events, which limits its impact, and this has worked negatively towards them. Furthermore, apart from achieving sustainable development, in a well-executed CSR strategy, the government becomes a secondary beneficiary to CSR as this lessens its burden for responding to a wide range of issues for communities. Thus, for companies to achieve sustainable development through CSR they must plan their CSR strategies. Each should have a consistent strategy and specific annual budget for CSR projects. CSR should be the product of a planned strategy, rather than consisting of occasional charitable activities.
To achieve sustainable development, CRS strategies should be drawn to meet public’s requirements. Formulating and implementing CSR strategies should be a more proactive, rather than reactive process. Each organisation should follow the cardinal rule of winning strategies. Choosing the right social responsibility strategy influences business by reducing costs and risk while maximising profits and competitive advantage and overall increasing reputation and legitimacy and creating synergistic value.
However, it is important for corporate leadership to note that, for CSR to be employed as a strategic tool, it must be institutionalised within the corporate activities and processes and it must get equal attention as to other strategies within the organisation such as, marketing strategy, operation strategy, human resources strategy, financial strategy and a host of other corporate strategies.
Bernard Kimani Communication Specialist and Certified Public Relations Analyst Nairobi Kenya.