BY BERNADEE UY, society programmes manager
The Dilemma: Traditional CSR
A CEO who has a huge heart for development once told me that his company is looking for two things in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes: impact and engagement. Impact means a real, long-term and sustainable positive effect that the corporations bring to their communities, and engagement means looking at CSR as an employee benefit; devising a way for employees to give back utilising their expertise and creating a sense of fulfilment as they contribute to permanent change.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in the Philippines are usually one-off events and dole-outs. This model would predominantly mean that (1) corporate employees get involved in activities that are completely different from their skillset: tree planting, mangrove reforestation, play therapy and outreach programmes; (2) programmes are not embedded within the value chain of the corporation and (3) the impact does not last.
You can imagine how pleasantly surprised we were when Integrated Micro-electronics, Inc. (IMI) approached us in 2015 come up with a programme that would enable communities to be more self-sustaining and to help them graduate from the dependency mind-set caused by donations.
The Answer: Social Enterprise Leadership
Thus, the Beyond CSR programme was born. IMI, along with Laguna Water Corporation (LWC) and Ayala Foundation Inc. (AFI) identified 15 communities (and 30 community leaders) in Laguna province that they have already been helping. The goal was for these communities to transition from a dole-out model to a self-sustaining social enterprise model. The idea behind the programme was that when the corporations withdraw their support, the community leaders will take the lead and ensure that there are means to make the community sustainable.
The programme uses the Active Citizens methodology with emphasis on social enterprise leadership. In the five-day workshop, we focused on helping the community leaders articulate their values and identity, their relation to their community and finally, the ways by which they can achieve what they aspire for.
Traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in the Philippines are usually one-off events and dole-outs.
To complement the leadership module, we solicited the help of employees from the aforementioned corporations to come up with modules on hard core business skills. These employees were experts in their respective lines of work: financial management, digital marketing, legal structures, supply chain and other fields. They shared tips and stories, and more importantly, and they answered the questions of community leaders based on their specialised experience of running a big enterprise.