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Paradigm shift for CSR in Sri Lanka

Comments / 817 Views / Thursday, 9 October 2014 00:03

  • CSR Lanka Charter pledges to provide public and corporate sectors with strategic guidance and resources to create long-term sustainable value
The CSR Lanka Board after signing the charter. From left: Director Mahesh Wijewardene, Deputy Chairman Rizvi Zaheed, Chairman Chandula Abeywickrama, Director Anusha Alles, Director Keerthi Kotagama and Director Rohan Pandithakorralage   CSR Lanka (Guarantee) Ltd. was launched last week with a charter signed by the Chairman and Board of Directors of the company. The charter pledged to practice and spearhead their mission of providing strategic guidance and necessary resources to create long term sustainable value in CSR efforts of the corporate sector including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). An entity formed with a mission to improve quality of life for Sri Lankan society by providing people with a better future through public and corporate sector engagement, CSR Lanka believes that businesses need to have a more strategic approach to their CSR.   Commitment to societal wellbeing CSR Lanka Chairman Chandula Abeywickrema, speaking at the recent launch, with the participation of the country’s leading corporates said that commitment to societal wellbeing by all stakeholders has become vital for the sustainability of the Planet, People and Profit. “The triple bottle line is so interwoven with each other no stakeholder can sacrifice one for another. Responsible Living, Responsible Investment and Responsible Earnings, are all needed to be articulated with conviction in order for businesses to be responsible corporate citizens of Sri Lanka,” he said. The Chairman said that CSR Lanka has two objectives i.e. looking at CSR from macro as well as micro levels. “On a micro level are the individual companies, where CSR Lanka as the apex body will support initiatives in awareness, advocacy, networking, training, knowledge exchange, benchmarking, etc. On the macro level CSR Lanka will take the driving seat and look at national issues that need to be addressed on behalf of corporates. “The micro and macro factors are like two sides to a coin; one cannot exist without the other. Whilst companies on an individual level, must be sustainable to support the macro, these very companies have to realise that they cannot exist on a larger canvass if there is no stable environment to do business in. Let me give you an example. “On a micro level a company may want to paint a school, which would be in their immediate vicinity and this may well be a part of their CSR drive. But on a macro level CSR Lanka may steer a programme to teach our children to be civic minded, that is, teaching them their rights and duties as citizens of this country. Many generations ago, civics and moral science were subjects taught in schools,” said Abeywickrema.   Local relevance The Chairman emphasised that Corporate Social Responsibility is a very complex and diverse area and has to be viewed from an Asian, South Asian and Sri Lankan paradigm. He said that the company has been working on making their policies and mandate relevant in a local context; with the support of global best practices of organisations such as CSR Netherlands. He says: “Making CSR part of a corporate’s DNA should not be just a feather in their cap. There is more to Triple Bottom Line reporting than a single balance sheet every year, and it is CSR Lanka’s mission to encourage our business sector to move towards working on three to four year corporate balance sheets. So the challenge for corporates in Sri Lanka today, is adopting a more meaningful form of triple bottom line reporting.”   Wealth creation and distribution He says that it is timely that an apex body such as CSR Lanka was launched, as there was a growing need for genuine good governance and greater transparency, not only in the science of wealth creation but also in the art of wealth distribution. “Since the corporate sector is seen as the engine of growth, in a fast developing Sri Lanka, it is necessary to align this powerful sector’s social engagement with the vision of the Government, and CSR Lanka believes that the synergies which will emerge from this alliance will go towards taking the nation to the next level.” The Chairman added: “We believe in responsible and sustainable corporate growth; in the inseparable core relation between our society and the environment and in creating the right solutions for social and economic development as well as environment protection with each stake holder taking key ownership.”   Key pillars Keeping in mind the importance of the corporate sector’s role in bringing strategic focus to CSR efforts to enable long-term value creation, the Board of Directors and Members of CSR Lanka has grouped social issues that require CSR efforts into several key pillars i.e. Youth Empowerment & Social Entrepreneurship; Education; Health & Welfare; Water & Sanitation; Disaster Relief; Food Security; and the Environment. The company’s mission is to encourage the corporate sector and other organisations to adopt best practices in Corporate Social Responsibility through shared learning and enabling measurable, positive impacts for key stakeholders. The Board and member organisations will strive to guide member companies to conduct a needs analysis before planning their CSR projects to validate the need for the project; identify key stakeholders and beneficiaries; identify key outcomes expected of the project; ascertain resources required for the project and the sources of funding, technical support, channels of communication and documentation of project details; evaluate actual outcomes of the project against expected outcomes and document key learning’s for future projects.

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