In T&T: UN report: Local CEOs can make greater impact

27 July 2012


Nice follow-up to our blog post on Ethics. Take a look!

Trinidad and Tobago needs more strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) for sustainable social improvement to take place, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) CEO study on CSR in Trinidad and Tobago has suggested.

The main findings of the study, which was conducted four years after the mapping of CSR in this country by the UNDP and the Chamber of Commerce, shows improvement in CSR locally, but with still a lot of room for growth.

Dr Jens-Ulrich Poppen, UNDP’s programme officer (Democratic Governance), who presented “The View from the Board- room”, said although corporate T&T was in support of CSR, there was very little evidence there was a shift to strategic CSR.

Poppen said 88.2 per cent of all CEOs interviewed have operated a CSR service over the past five years, and although the idea of strategic CSR was popular in theory, it isn’t in practice.

“Only slightly more than 50 per cent—51.4 per cent—of all CEOs said they actually operate on the basis of a written CSR strategy. And that kind of contradicts the segment (of the study) where more than 80 per cent of the CEOs said that the management of CSR was critical for the future success of their business entities.”

The statistics within the report showed there was still a strong focus on donations and charitable activities, with 96.8 per cent of the CEOs practising “gap-filling” and donations and 83.9 per cent in sponsorship of campaigns and other public events, which the report states “deflects from the possibility of forging more tangible and sustainable development partnerships”.

However, there were signs of hope, the report states, as more than 60 per cent of CEOs responded positively to having active employee volunteers in their companies.

The study, Poppen said, also showed the link between CSR and the bottom-line; performance remains subject to speculation and guesswork ra- ther than empirical research by the companies.

“There hasn’t been really empirical research, and that is the link between the input, the investment in CSR, the commercial performance …and while we do realise that companies are not research institutions, it would be helpful in informing their decision-making,” he said.

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