CIPE Launches Responsible Business Guide in Pakistan
Lahore, Pakistan – As Pakistan’s businesses become increasingly sophisticated and integrated into the global economy, they must further enhance their transparency, accountability, and integrity. In late 2010, in Lahore, Pakistan, CIPE, the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), and the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) launched a new tool to encourage just that – the Responsible Business Guide: A Toolkit for Winning Companies. The Guide is a new element in CIPE’s emerging focus on corporate citizenship, which represents a move from philanthropy and corporate social responsibility to a deeper understanding of the commitment of companies to society.
The publication is the result of years of research, roundtables, focus group discussions, and drafting guided by a working group including leading Pakistani firms, business associations and chambers of commerce, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and others. CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan explained in his opening remarks that the guide is a roadmap for companies to “embrace and demonstrate ethical business practices,” allowing them to “create jobs, strengthen civil institutions, combat corruption, and promote growth.” The Guide focuses on six practical areas: governance and management, principles and values, compliance and disclosure, stakeholder involvement and social investment, product integrity and customer focus, and financial viability and capitalization.
At the event, a panel discussion pointed out the difference between corporate philanthropy and corporate citizenship. Giving charitable donations can be a part of being a good corporate citizen, but it is not the whole picture. One panelist described responsible businesses as “islands of excellence,” oriented toward sustainable growth, using resources wisely, and taking into account the interests of a wide range of stakeholders.
Responsible business encourages long-run economic growth, an effect which functions in two key ways. First, entrepreneurs who conduct their business in a fair, transparent, responsible and accountable manner, recognize that with increasing profits comes increasing responsibility to all stakeholders. This helps the business to grow faster and increases earnings. Second, companies that voluntarily adopt and adhere to ethical principles can head off attempts by politicians to mandate the same behavior through regulation. Excess regulation drives up costs, so responsible business helps firms unleash the economic potential of the private sector for the benefit of the whole society.
Instituting responsible business practices remains a challenge for many Pakistani firms, but these firms are recognizing the need to keep up with international trends. To continue building on this initiative, the audience and panelists sketched out some ideas for further activities, including more research, advocacy and education, training firms to implement responsible practices, and greater coordination among interested stakeholders. CIPE and its partners plan to continue engaging on the issues of corporate citizenship, including through tools such as the new Guide, not just in Pakistan, but in countries around the world. .
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