February 7, 2008



Everyone is trying to invent a MAGIC WAND that will alleviate poverty and control crime but I have learnt that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. I have also learnt that if you wish to achieve massive success set yourself small achievable goals that will lead to your main over arching GOAL.

A lot of things have been said about CSR but I have come to the conclusion that CSR can reduce poverty and give hope the citizens that will afford them a better quality of life, one step at a time.

CSR strikes at the core values of an organization. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a work environment that employer and employees can be proud. I am proud to be an employee working at John Jones and company. My employer cares for and shares with not only the staff but also with the community. That leads to the next phase of CSR your responsibility to the community in which you operate. Are you one of those business persons who ignore the needs of their community even though the company is in a position to help? Finally, taking care of the environment is essential in these days, especially when most of our island States depend on tourism for their survival. Are you a hostile polluter????

After such an opening where employees and community are demanding that companies seek to be true corporate citizens, I hasten to provide a Caribbean definition of CSR. This definition emerged from a 3 day workshop held in Barbados, November 26-29, 2007:
“CSR is a strategic process and commitment to achieve sustainable development (social, cultural, economical and environmental) through partnerships with all stakeholders”.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Action:
CSR is a concept, which encourages organizations to consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of the organization’s activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in all aspects of its operations. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and families as well as for the local community and society at large.

Major Objective of the Promoters of the CSR Program
The goal of the promoters of CSR is to work with all stakeholders to encourage business practices that would help ensure successful and profitable business that contribute fully to achieving our sustainable development goals.

Some thoughts on CSR
There is no universally accepted definition of CSR. Selected definitions by CSR organizations and actors include:
• “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality o life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large” World Business Councils for Sustainable Development”
• CSR is about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society.”
• “CSR is a company’s commitment to operating in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner whilst balancing the interest of diverse stakeholders.”
• A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.”
• “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud. CSR goes beyond such thinking.

Approaches to CSR

Internal Company Responsibilities for CSR:

*Proper waste disposable practices
*Select environmentally friendly materials for office/factory use
*Implement and enforce sound health and safety practices (ergonomic furniture and accessories etc.)
*Install energy-saving devices
*Encourage volunteerism and social equitable interaction among staff (reward, etc.)
*Provide continuous training, evaluation, and monitoring re: CSR activities, objectivities and issues
*Foster high employee morale by building relationships and partnerships to alleviate perceived employee hardship. (Day-care Provision, Flex-time, Gym membership etc)
*Ensure that operational systems are user-friendly
*Integrate CSR policy as part of company business and HR planning.

External Company Responsibility for CSR:

*Research/disseminate information on worthwhile social programs
*Voluntarily contribute in kind/cash to programs/events that impacting on company and country development goals
*Promote company’s CSR philosophy and strategies via media, websites, newsletter etc.
*Comply with all relevant government labor, health and safety regulations
*Provide environmental customer-friendly packaging etc.

*Encourage special programs and events for customers in promotion of CSR (Customer appreciation day, giveaways, etc.
*Inhibit customer-friendly building/infrastructure
*Establish, monitor and evaluate customer service code of conduct
*Support principles and legislation that promote socially responsibility issues such as human rights, equal opportunity, disability and children’s right.
*Reward stakeholders, companies and children’s right.

Every company should aspire to achieving these fundamental goals of CSR for the benefit of their community and nation as a whole. The time for CHANGE is now! Not only in the USA, but everywhere! St. Lucia must play an integral participating role in CSR.

A small committee comprising of persons who participated in the two CSR workshops held in Trinidad and Barbados in 2007 is at work and it will host a special meeting on Friday, 15th February, 2008 at the Auberge Seraphine Conference Room at 10.00am to sensitise stakeholders on developments that have taken place so far and lay out plans for the future. An Adhoc Committee will be formed to pilot the group in formalizing a National Committee on CSR. It is envisaged that Labour, Civil Society, Government and the Private Sector will be fully involved.

CSR is receiving major attention from the world major institutions such as OAS, World Bank, CIDA, etc. A web based course on CSR is soon to be launched where all interested persons could sign up for the programme. A Train the Trainers and National Workshop will be held in St. Lucia during the first half of 2008. The OAS/SEDI/YABT collaboration is very keen on ensuring that CSR succeeds in the Caribbean. St. Lucia is one of five countries in the region that has been selected in the pilot project. For further information on how you can participate in the activities, please contact Ed Harris c/o SLISBA Tel: 452-7616

Here is my selected Motivational Quote for the week:
One of the greatest surprises you’ll experience,
is when you discover that you can do
what you were afraid you couldn’t do.
Your obstacles will melt away,
if instead of cowering before them,
you make up your mind to walk boldly through them.
Do the thing you fear and fear disappears.
Confront your fears, list them, get to know them
and only then will you be able to put them aside
and move ahead.
When you face the things that scare you,
you open the door to freedom.
The only thing you have to fear, is fear itself.
Copyright 2008

Keep the Faith, God is in Charge, Dream Big and Expect Miracles all the time!!!

Edward Harris
Biblicist, Freelance Journalist, Author, Business & PR Consultant, Realtor, Sales & Marketing Specialist, Networker, Private Sector Advocate, Motivational Speaker

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