AS I SEE IT
I WANT to thank your newspaper for raising critical questions about corporate culture in our society.
The questions that you have put forward are fundamentally important and ethically relevant.
Have our companies operating in Lesotho designed corporate social investment programmes in order to address our community needs?
Every company must have a well documented programme which clearly spells out its funding criteria to not-for-profit organisations.
The programme offers a guiding principle as to who can apply for funding from such organisations.
There should be reasons given as to why the requests or applications are turned down.
The kind of reasons given when rejecting funding applications become easily acceptable and understandable if a company has in place very clear written guidelines.
Almost all companies in Lesotho receive overwhelming applications and proposals for funding from individuals.
Companies therefore need to have these funding programmes in place. Unfortunately there are very few companies that have these programmes in place.
This should be the starting point in the corporate culture of caring for those in need and helping the communities that make our businesses tick.
The question is: Do our businesses include a portion of the corporate social responsibility in their annual budgets?
One company may decide to focus its programme on children’s projects another on community water projects while another may focus on physically disabled persons or on environmental projects.
For example, a company that produces alcoholic drinks will almost certainly focus its donations towards non-governmental organisations that are involved in counselling alcoholics.
A company that is directly involved in projects that can be perceived to be impacting negatively on the environment should take an active part in addressing such issues in the community.
Surprisingly one finds that management at some of these companies is completely clueless about the role they should play in improving the lives of people in their communities.
They appear ignorant about the facts and role they should play in the lives of people where they do business, yet this is where they get most of their labour.
These programmes are undertaken to benefit the company and the surrounding community. This is apart from the companies’ key goals of profit making, profit maximisation, increased market share, greater name recognition and many more.
A friend of mine was running a newspaper that was generating an annual revenue of M1 million every year and he chose to give 10 percent of this money to a hospital where his daughter had received extensive care as a child.
His company was given the Small Business of the Year award. The firm also received a number of national awards from the local chamber of business.
This was immense recognition from the community in which the company was operating from. The hospital benefited enormously over a number of years and the community reciprocated.
We are not talking here of those hit-and-miss situations where people just give once whatever they can and forget.
Corporate social responsibility is a long-term focused investment which can only be evaluated and modified after years of operation to accommodate new ideas and innovations.
Strong relationships are developed over time as a company continue to stick to its programmes.
Staff working for such organisations will take pride of what their company is doing in their local community.
Morale among staff is also boosted.
It would be interesting to see how many companies in Lesotho have the structured formal giving programmes that we are talking about here.
It would be interesting to see how much these companies give to charity and needy individuals as well. These include students and senior citizen projects.
In some countries statistics on the subject are documented on an annual basis.
This information can go a long way in showing how far we have gone as responsible citizens in our community social investment programmes.
This in my humble opinion is a critical subject deserving further debate and discussion.