To add to the theme of International Women’s Day, here is a woman’s perspective on corporate social responsibility from Yanti Koestoer, Executive Director of Indonesia Business Links. She talks about this important issue in her CIPE Development Institute presentation (free registration required), focusing on the context of developing countries. Ms. Koestoer, who has developed and supervises numerous programs in business ethics, entrepreneurship and youth employment, and responsible natural resources practices, concludes that:
- “Corporate social responsibility is important as an element of development because companies need to look after their communities. Companies have to look at that as part of their integrated strategy in doing business.”
In other words, corporate social responsibility (CSR), or corporate citizenship, is a business strategy that produces long-term benefits for both communities and businesses. Given the common misconceptions, it is crucial that the private sector, governments, and the public understand the meaning of corporate citizenship. It is not simply charity. Instead, it also focuses on contributing to the society through other means such as improving local human capital, protecting the environment, and developing the culture of accountability and transparency.
Ms. Koestoer adds that in her experience corporate citizenship should not be forced upon the private sector through legislation – it works better as a voluntary endeavor. Many small-scale enterprises have already been operating in that way for years but do not necessarily call it CSR. Therefore, it is important to keep them engaged in their communities without imposing excessive burdens. As good corporate citizens, all businesses in developing and developed countries alike can thrive responsibly.
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