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CSR lacks guiding tools in Bangladesh: Study

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 18 October, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
CSR lacks guiding tools in Bangladesh: Study

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Sixty-two percent of companies allocate 3% of their profits to the purpose of maintaining social responsibilities, found a study.

In a report conducted by SR Asia Bangladesh for 2019-2020, companies from six different sectors were surveyed: RMG/textile, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, plastic, banks, and non-bank financial institutions (NFBIs).

On average, the 62 companies surveyed were found to allocate 3% of their profits to the purpose of maintaining social responsibilities.

There is a lack of awareness and shortage of guiding and assistive instruments in the development of CSR in the country, it said.

In the wake of the pandemic, however, sustainability is now more important than ever for business survival.

Beyond profit, companies need to consider the environment and people when constructing business strategies, the report said.

In the current time, engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) means that, in the regular flow of business, a company prioritizes operating in avenues that bring societal and environmental benefits.

However, even as academics and intellectuals continue to debate about whether CSR should be voluntary or mandatory (in other words, required by law), it is not heavily practiced by the private sector in Bangladesh. Besides

Despite the lack of regulatory requirements for CSR however, some MNCs in Bangladesh have joined social responsibility efforts.

Renata Limited, for example, has contributed mainly via financial assistance and donations to charitable organizations.

Alongside them are the easily recognizable names of EXIM Bank, Chorka Textile Ltd., and FM Plastic Industries Limited.

It is almost needless to mention that COVID has reinforced, for many companies, the importance of CSR.

Marico Bangladesh has been a pioneer in this regard, touching the lives of thousands of frontline workers during the unprecedented times signaled by the pandemic.

Besides contributing Tk5 million to the Prime Minister's COVID-19 Welfare Fund, they have also made sizable donations of their Mediker SafeLife hand sanitizers to underprivileged families, media personnel and the Bangladeshi police.

Currently, one of the main obstacles to sustainability practice and reporting in Bangladesh’s private sector is the gap of understanding between the development needs or sector and the private sector.

This is what begets the need for a mutual platform which will facilitate the implementation of social programmes by connecting private, public and development sectors, fostering long-term impact.

An exemplary brand in this regard, who have closed the gap, is Marico Bangladesh, who have partnered with UNDP and the Government in the SWAPNO program. This is a program which stands out for truly reflecting SDG 17 “Partnership for the Goals”. The Swapno programme is essentially a poverty graduation model focused on providing productive and sustainable employment for the beneficiaries: ultra-poor women-led households. The program simultaneously prioritizes enhancement of quality of life, through financial inclusion, nutrition, and social awareness.

Although mandatory regulations for CSR don't exist, for more than a decade now, countries all over the world have been making it compulsory for companies to practice some form of CSR/sustainability reporting in their corporate governance. instruments.

Transparent reporting and disclosure is  a norm for all well-governed companies and owed to their stakeholders. Social Responsibility (SR) Asia Bangladesh’s report shows only 16% of companies reported that they publicly published CSR or sustainability reports.

Marico Bangladesh was recognized as TOP CSR Contributor 2020 by SR Asia not only for their covid-forward and sustainable CSR programs but also for consistent reporting and disclosure of CSR activities and board approved commitment of a minimum of 1% of profits to CSR.

The world seems to have changed unrecognizably in the last year and a half.

Now, more than ever, companies have to commit to participating in a restructuring of political expectations for businesses to practice sustainability outside the realm of corporate branding, to commit more wholly to people and the planet. Not to mention, companies cannot hope to survive in these volatile and increasingly complex times without considering sustainability and community engagement as one of their primary drivers.

Social Responsibility must inform not only the vision and purpose of companies but their passion as well, imbuing their employees with the same drive.

It’s high time the industry began counting CSR as a necessary tool to increasing social welfare.