Social Responsibility, Again
By Ammar W. Mango
It is dangerous when social responsibility becomes an occasional task that we get over with; like a charity dinner, a charitable donation, or a volunteer job. With this type of definition, companies and individuals feel they have a carte blanche to be irresponsible socially in how they deal in business. Is this becoming a trend? And if yes, what is the solution? And what is my role as an individual to reverse this mentality?
We all hear the complaint about corporate responsibility statements, where companies say something and do the exact opposite. One such global company I dealt with has in their published statement the following: “We have a responsibility to be an active member of the communities in which we live and work.” I had a phone interview with their HR manager about a year ago, about a capacity building project in one of their middle eastern locations. During the interview, I raised the need to build awareness in an important ethical challenge that might need to be addressed. Her answer was clear and firm “If I was in my headquarters, I would agree with you, but in this country, I have a job to get this done and leave, without getting into their cultural issues.” Is this speaking from both sides of the mouth? or an ill informed employee about her company CSR statement. Both are dangerous, as she is a ranking director in her company.
There is also at the individual level: We see on the news charities and events sponsored by individuals who give generously to a good cause. A closer look at how they carry their business might not reveal the same level of corporate responsibility. Of course not all, but a considerable some.
Social responsibility should become a way of life. A way to assess our daily interactions with the world around us. If some feel they are too small as individuals to make a difference then probably they are. Not because of their position or rank, but because of how they think. If you think you are too small to make a difference then you are. Not because of your situation, but because your self talk is stopping you from doing your duty.
As individuals, we need to plan our social responsibility like we plan our work. There has to be a general policy of ethical values and standards that we want to live by. Then we have to put a one to two year plan of social responsibility goals that we would like to achieve. Then, work on weekly goals that get you to what you want to achieve. Finally, one can manage these CSR activities on the to do list. The same one used for business tasks. Make sure some of your social responsibility tasks, take priority over some of the business tasks. It feels good. Try it and enjoy being socially responsible!