Reality Check: May CSR Ka Pa BA?
By Perry M. Calara
The crisis is eating everything on its path, just like a black hole.
It has gobbled big banks and corporations in the US—hopefully with its greedy bonus-freak managers. It is destroying forces of production--means of labor and labor itself. By now, we have heard of jobs being lost and dreams of families that depend on these jobs. About 200,000 Filipinos are expected to lose their jobs by June.
In the Corporate Responsibility (CR) front, many of my colleagues at the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) are asking emotionally-filled questions. What are the effects of the crisis to corporate foundations, the supposed repository of CR knowledge?
It will definitely be affected-- some negative and some positive. It will have a very negative consequence to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice closely related to donations, charity, and the “PR types.” The logic is: less of the extras (read by my “anakpawis” friends as: “crumbs”), therefore, less for charity and "CSR.”
On the other hand, I believe, there will be a positive effect if companies have been seriously conducting their CSR's triple bottom line approach--profit, people, planet. They will have a much bigger momentum to survive the crisis. Of course! They have an enhanced business framework compared to the “primitive types.”
As I write, the LCF is continuously conducting reality check. The question that goes with this is, “May CSR Ka Pa ba? (do you still have a CSR). Last March, this was exactly the question that we asked ourselves. I and Junie Del Mundo of EONs were asked by the group to facilitate a forum.
O well, many from the audience believed that the crisis is because of greed. What can I say, they are describing neo-liberalism. It is the contemporary form of capitalism that my "anakpawis" friends have been blaming for their sufferings since GATT-WTO was conceived.
But I have to admit that many of the thoughts shared were inspiring. One of the philosophical, if not poetic, outlooks I heard from the forum came from one of the resource speakers, Mr. Lorenzo Chan of Pioneer Insurance. He said that at this time, "we can have a little less of profit to have more." I take that as more friends, more environmentally-friendly, and market in the future—triple bottom line.
Although everybody was saying that we have to continue with our CRS that was expected from practitioners. What maybe a little surprise to me is that some companies are actively positioning their CSR with additional budget. Whaaat! While waiting for the coming of the black hole? Yes! Tracy Peralta of PNOC-EDC proudly reported that they have increased their “CSR” budget. Malou Ernie, Executive Director of Petron Foundation, also confided to me that her boss even wanted their activities, "be further communicated.” If it’s going to be communicated, it must have a budget. I can only say, May CSR pa sila!
The raging black hole is still there. The reality check of LCF must dig deeper to understand it more. They have to be ready to face its destructive forces—the greedy forces.
Frankly, I think the "deep" unanswered question posted by Eric de la Torre of Team Energy during the forum should be dissected “to the bone” first. He asks, "how can capitalism solve the crisis when it was the one that created it in the first place?” So, LCF, when is the next forum?
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