Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Good Things Always Start From Good Discussions

I participated in a CSR training organized jointly by Ikatan Akuntasi Indonesia (IAI) and CSR Asia last week. The training went for two whole days. It was very interesting and very fruitful.

It was started with the presentation and Q&A of what is CSR. Not surprisingly, CSR means different thing to different person. But Erin, our facilitator from CSR Asia, correctly emphasized that it is the ‘sustainability’ factor that separates CSR from other social activities conducted by private companies.

Noke Kiroyan of Newmont Pacific Nusantara delivered his speech after lunch. He noticed the tendency to closely associate CSR with Community Development (CD) in Indonesia. This is interesting since CD often involves huge amount of money, and in many cases only big companies have the luxury of having such program.

Does it mean that CSR is only for big, and mostly extractive, companies?

A lot of people in Indonesia have this question in their head. We, at Maverick, actually have been working to find a way on how to make CSR works for small and medium enterprises. We believe that corporate should move into a new terrain that is called Corporate Social Leadership (CSL). In CSL, we believe that CD activities should always be aligned to a company’s core business and expertise.

In fact, we have been implementing our own CSL program through communication capacity building training with several non-profit organizations.

Richard Welford, the other facilitator from CSR Asia, attempted to broaden our mind on the second day by emphasising that CSR should not only be limited to external activities, but also internal issues. CSR should also be incorporated in corporate policies. It means that CSR should also be reflected in their daily operation. This can be as simple as thinking about recycling your printer toner to providing a decent working condition for your employees.

Reporting is another issue that companies tend to forget. CSR is not a charity that when one hand does, the other hand should not know. CSR requires transparency and accountability. Therefore, reporting CSR becomes the next logical step that a company should consider. Reporting is actually process that leads into different kinds of report – media coverage, annual report, or even blog. Therefore, in reporting you also have to engage your stakeholders.

All in all, it was a training packed with good and eager participants. What has been lacking from this kind of event is actually the government. Companies have increasingly been interested in helping the government to conduct their obligation to the people through community development program; what should the government do to facilitate this?

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