How CSR is evolving in the Philippines

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To some, it is a strategy to project away from the usual attributes of corporations as just cold-blooded profit machines. Almost one-fifths of the respondents said their operations group is given an annual budget allocation to include CSR.

This could be attributed to the companies' tendency to separate environmental initiatives within their business operations as separate from their CSR projects. John Victor Tence, vice president at Jollibee, showe how their new heat recovery water system in stores bring annual energy savings equivalent to the yearly power consumption of 4, households. Environment-friendly practices in business operations have gained more following in the Philippines than consumer or shareholder activism, which are the main push factors in the West.

The Finance group is mainly in-charge of investors and stockholders who reward and punish companies who behave or misbehave not only in their host communities but in the way the entire business operates. Jesse Ang, the president of the International Finance Corp, the private sector financing arm of the World Bank, said these results reflected how generally weak the advocacy for the rights of minority shareholders is here in the Philippines.

Employee volunteers While some large companies have made CSR one of the cornerstones of their business strategy, these leaders have few followers. Most corporate efforts remain focused on beneficiaries that have little to do with or are peripheral to how the companies create products or provide services. Most also seem to be event-driven.

For example, a local financial services firm that does not have any policy, program or product that has the environment as theme regularly conducts tree-planting. A multinational consumer company conducts dengue-free activities to promote its anti-mosquito lotion. These activities are not likely to be sustainable.

In the survey, employee volunteerism was less prominent when companies designed their philanthropy, event, or other CSR activities. The increasing involvement of employees is considered significant in the way CSR is transitioning from being an activity outside the main business functions into one that engages the people that makes the business run.

Studies have shown that happy and motivated employees are more productive at work. Volunteering is innate among Filipinos. According to Martin Castaneda, the corporate communications head of L'Oreal Philippines, employees in the local unit of the France-based cosmetics and beauty firm prefer to include outreach programs as part of their company anniversary celebrations or other special company events.

This is almost unheard of among their Western counterparts who thrive largely on bonuses and other monetary rewards. The local unit of technology giant IBM takes volunteerism one step forward: A number of us actually will go beyond eight hours.

I've probably done 60 hours," shared country general manager James Velasquez. He stressed that "personal fulfillment" of each employee is the main incentive.

Aside from psychic rewards, employee volunteerism also provides labor free of cost. How goodwill and the other success indicators are measured, however, is another story. The survey noted that, while CSR has the support of and push from the top, and its functional business groups engaged in policy making, planning and implementation, the mechanism and process for gathering stakeholders feedback is weak.

Felino Palafox Jr, an architect and current president of the Management Association of the Philippines realized this when he answered the Newsbreak survey. Companies regularly assess performance as part of their business cycle to check if the entire company and the individual functional groups are far or near their business goals. It also gives an idea of how the company can further improve itself and move ahead.

Almost half claim they conduct either formal or informal surveys. The general tendency not to complete the feedback and improvement loop that includes a bottom-up process could be attributed to the lingering focus on philanthropy, events, and other one-shot efforts. This dominant top-down approach is reflected in another key CSR process: Over half depend on word of mouth to get their activities known by others.

Only a handful prepare a separate report that abide by the international guidelines for reporting and assessing business factors, including labor conditions, social and environmental impact of their operations, among others.

The survey added social media in the choices of communication strategies of the respondents. This choice was absent in the survey when this new online trend has not yet been introduced.

Employees who participate in volunteer programs have already embraced it. With their digital cameras and smartphones, they take pictures or videos of themselves teaching kids, planting trees, or doing community work. Then they post these on their Facebook walls or Tweet to their online friends, generating worthy praises or otherwise.

Social media, a phenomenon only in the recent past, has been showing rosy prospects in the Philippines as a communication, feedback, and engagement tool. These stories made other people. Welcome to Rappler, a social news network where stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change. View your profile page here OR Click close to continue. I've read the Rappler privacy statement , site use policy , comment moderation policy. Welcome to Rappler, please select your default country: Southwest monsoon to affect Luzon on September 17 WeatherAlert.

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