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Mizzima Business Weekly interviewed Vicky Bowman about the importance of CSR
It was first published in the April 10, 2014 issue of Mizzima Business Weekly. Mizzima Business Weekly's Executive Director of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Development, Geoffrey Goddard, asked Vicky Bowman to clarify how to identify companies' sense of citizenship and how a business can benefit from adopting this approach.
CSR is" the accountability of corporations for their impact on society". Organizations have a beneficial impact - they are creating employment and selling goods that please the customer. However, business can also have a detrimental effect on respect for mankind - for example, if their cosmetic product harms humans or their mine contaminates the wells.
When they bribe, they have a detrimental effect on the whole of the world. Understanding what its adverse effects can be, accepting that it is accountable for them and trying to mitigate them, a business will have a more favorable image with its clients, its people and its other allies.
Failure to counteract its adverse effects could result in a loss of a company's rights or obligations. It' about making a philanthropic socially responsible commitment that will not only make you sympathetic and perhaps give you a little media attention when you open the elementary college you donate.
In Myanmar, what are the greatest hurdles to convincing a business to embrace CSR? I think in general, Myanmar businesses say they want to take responsibility. But it can be more expensive, such as pay a reasonable salary, protect your employees from accident and make sure your product is well made.
They' re concerned that this will make them non-competitive, especially together with all the other things they are struggling with in Myanmar, such as energy supplies and red tape. There is legislation in other jurisdictions that is being implemented, putting corporate responsibility under increasing pressures. Most of it doesn't hold in Myanmar.
As a rule, businesses are family-owned, so there is no stockholder squeeze. They are getting more and more powerful, but they still cannot bring businesses to justice. A British or Australian firm would have a policy prohibiting such "gifts" that could even put a businessman in prison.
In Myanmar, what are the most important drivers that encourage businesses to promote CSR? However, one of the keys is that overseas counterparties who are closely monitored in their dealings, especially when it comes to bribery and respect for respect for fundamental freedoms, must be able to trust that their counterparties - be they their vendors or their JV counterparts - adhere to the same set of regulations.
At present, very few businesses are happy with the large multinational corporations, either because their clothing manufacturers are paying very low salaries, or because the contractor does not know what "business integrity" or international anti-corruption measures are, and has no enforcement mechanis.
Myanmar businesses that show the clothing retailers or the petroleum corporation that they'get it' will get the deal, and then others will come and move in from them. How have the way businesses in Myanmar that have implemented CSR functioned now? Businesses in which their workers have set up labour organisations must now work with labour market executives to solve issues.
A number of businesses are trying to better understanding the needs of the municipalities in which they work. You realize that you need to discuss your commercial plan with them and adjust it if necessary. How much restructuring does a corporation need to make if it is to adopt the CSR policy?
Currently, many organizations do not have a CSR division and it is up to the Chief Executive Officer or sometimes the HR executive. Businesses must designate someone who is skilled to think about the company's key players on whose behalf they have an influence and who is sufficiently high enough to convince the company's top managers and operations to make any necessary changes to the way they conduct their businesses.
How much does it costs to adopt CSR? What does a business use CSR to gauge its value in cash and service? Costs arise because managers need to spend a lot of effort finding out what needs to be done and informing the staff. In some cases, extra expenditure is required, such as modifying construction drawings to prevent damage to a heritage site, or educating locals to work for the business when it might be less expensive and simpler to bring in workers from other countries.
However, it is an effort to maintain and maintain the license. They can only really accurately gauge the costs of getting it badly - waste a lot of valuable while your mine is being shut down, get certified bills for your petroleum overflow or judicial challenge, or getting your damn halved halfway through Construction due to general opposition.
There are also advantages in the development of smart CSR programs to help your business expand, such as soaps firms that teach hand washing to kids in school, or publishing houses that run adults' alphabetization programs. So what does a business that has adopted CSR before adopting the corporate culture represent?
This shows that they recognize that they have a sense of community accountability that goes beyond making a profit, regardless of outlay. This shows that they recognize that their adverse effects on others in terms of costs, both socially and environmentally, and they should do everything in their power to cut these costs, even if this consumes their short-term benefits.
What would Myanmar gain from more CSR? There is a lack of a sound regulatory regime to safeguard the natural and environmental well-being of Myanmar's workforce and local authorities. By behaving in a responsible manner without being coerced by civil servants, businesses will help create a Myanmar where investments and business expansion are sustained and avoid adverse outcomes.
But if they do not accept this and choose to take the opportunity of poor government to make a fast dollar in the near future, the economy will hurt, but in the long run the same. The article was first published in the April 10, 2014 issue of Mizzima Bizzima Weekly. Who' s gonna be Burma' s corporate innovator?