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“Private Sector should adopt a more focused approach to CSR” MTI
The Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration (MNLSI) together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH held a National Forum on the “Role of the Private Sector in Promoting Social Integration”
By: MTI Consulting Pvt LTD
The MNLSI initiated Social Integration Week in 2012 with the launch of the National Policy Framework for Social Integration and the Savivara | Thirappu | Access theme and logo for Social Integration, as an annual event for celebrating unity in diversity and as a means for manifesting collaborative political will. The National Policy Framework for Social Integration identifies the private sector as playing a key role in this process by promoting equality of opportunity, engaging diversity and fulfilling their responsibilities as equal partners in supporting excluded and vulnerable sections of society. As such, 'Social Responsibility for Social Integration' was aimed at initiating a dialogue on the role of the private sector in social integration, and raising awareness on the concepts of social integration among corporate leaders.
The Minister of National Languages and Social Integration Hon. Vasudeva Nanyakkara delivered the welcome address at the Forum, followed by a keynote address by Minister of Economic Development Hon. Basil Rajapaksa. Ms. Randa Kourieh-Ranrivelo, Country Director GIZ also spoke at this occasion, followed by a presentation by MTI Consulting CEO Mr. Hilmy Cader who was invited to inspire the Private sector to consider existing and potential corporate social responsbility initiatives through the lens of Social Integration, which is of great significance to Sri Lanka within the post-war context.
The focus of Mr. Cader’s presentation on CSR and Social Integration was centered on three principal questions: What? Why? How?
Addressing the question of “What?” Mr. Cader made it clear that CSR is not a form of charity or philanthropy, a disguised marketing activity or a loss making enterprise. Instead, CSR needs to be viewed as a form of care and responsibility by all corporations in the actions they undertake. He further added that CSR should be a voluntary contribution
In response to the question “Why?” Mr. Cader highlighted that corporations are part of society and their actions affect all living beings. Elaborating further, Mr. Cader went on to speak of the level of power and competencies that corporations have, how their resources can be utilized and applied, and the impact it can create towards the social challenges in society. These features possess great potential within the social integration process and should be engaged in a positive way. 'The time to act is now, before social issues escalate,' Mr. Cader added, 'especially with the global populations projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years'. Given these challenges and opportunities, there is an immediate need for the private sector to pool resources – and engage with the Government to promote the importance ofsocial integration through CSR projects.
Finally, Mr. Cader addressed the question of “How?” through an MTI study of Sri Lankan CSR initiatives, activities and trends together with the current relevance of social integration in society. Based on the research findings, it was made clear there has been a proliferation of micro initiatives that has led to many projects being idea-driven rather than need-driven. In addition, there is limited synergy and co-operation between the Government & the Private Sector. The findings also showed that sectors were undertaking activities independently and doing things arbitrarily, causing a lack of critical mass and impact, and resulting in less than optimal returns.
Mr. Cader went on to further explain what the proper approach and impact CSR activities should be on centered on and responsive to society. It should not be viewed as an immediate solution to an immediate need but a long lasting impact and effect that will ensure the upward mobility of society. Mr. Cader supported his rationalization by quoting several paradigms that exhibited the distinction between the above two effects - ‘The Feel Good of Giving Vs The Impact it Creates’, ‘Recipient Vs Beneficiary’
As a whole, Mr. Cader made evident that in the context of current challenges to addressing social integration by way of CSR cannot be solved only by Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). The pooling of resources and ‘synergizing’
Mr. Cader’s brief but invaluable and insightful presentation was a clear inspiration to the private sector that it is time for the true understanding of CSR and social integration and the joint involvement with the public sector. Although the journey is young, these Forums are teaching platforms which will surely give plenty food for thought and the necessary impetus for this type of social change in near future.