CSR Malaysia, a not-for-profit social enterprise division of RHA Media recently carried out a survey on the engagement of some 100 small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities or more specifically how much they have forked out for their CSR activities in 2018. The direct-contact survey was conducted to obtain a good insight into the kind of CSR activities these SMEs do and the amount of money they spent on them.
The findings of the survey indicated that out of the 100 SMEs contacted, 17% of them did not spend anything on CSR in 2018 while the remaining 83% spent on their CSR activities in the following manner: 28% (RM1 to RM 1,000); 35% (RM1,001 to RM10,000); 13% (RM10,001 to RM 50,000) and 7% spent above RM 50,000. It is interesting to note that the SMEs in the 28% and 35% spending categories carried out most of their CSR activities in connection with festivals and celebrations during the year. They visited orphanages, welfare and old folks homes giving them cash donations as well food and other necessities. Some SMEs take children from the homes for a good shopping spree and treat them to a memorable meal prior to a festival celebration.
Today, the world is getting more and more borderless and people are more interconnected than ever before. They are better informed on many issues that affect their lives be they social, cultural or environmental and they do take a stand on these issues, directly or indirectly. More and more consumers expect these issues to be addressed and therefore, companies need to prioritise them and are expected to be at the forefront shouldering their corporate social responsibilities. Indeed, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has taken its place in today’s corporate world and companies that ignore it do so at their own peril. Companies are expected to change the way they do business, become more transparent, and take an active role in ensuring there are positive social and environmental effects associated with the way they do business.
Hence, being a good corporate citizen is really not an option for companies going for the long haul. However, there is the inevitable cost of being one. But the good news is that there are many benefits that come with taking ownership of CSR that ingrains in the values and culture of a company, positively affecting the way the company does business. Some of the numerous benefits would include attracting and retaining investors and productive employees, promoting a positive workplace environment, increasing creativity and encouraging professional and personal growth of employees, forging mutually beneficially corporate partnerships, improving public image and increasing media coverage.
CSR need not be intimidating at all and neither is it to be regarded as a ‘necessary evil’. One must take cognizance of the fact that businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails. True, needs are everywhere and the task of meeting every single one of them is daunting, to say the least. For those of us who have yet to assume the mantle of CSR, surely we can start by adopting the right mindset about CSR and go from there – do what we can, with what we have, where we are.