By Balang Marenah
My Corporate Governance, Ethics and Sustainability lecturer, Professor Shital Jhunjhunwala, once asked us during her CSR lectures that “will you consider someone as religious who keep praying during the daytime, gives charity and feed the poor but goes out at night to drink, smoke and engage in drunk driving in which he/she frequently hits/kills people in accidents?”
The purpose of her question was to help us easily get an understanding of companies’ CSR.
Shortly after they have been incorporated, GACH Global accomplished a lot of development work such as building a police station in URR, they gave motorcycles to Gambia police to ease their movement, they donate money to the needy, especially the sick for medical treatment and are currently building a children’s hospital in URR. They did all this to complement the efforts of the state and attempt to carry out their Corporate Social Responsibility which is a good attempt. Recently, they bagged a couple of recognition for their CSR works in the country and many applauded them.
Ironically, they have also been engaged in many activities which are not in the interest of society part of which include the petrol scarcity scandal, careless mining in Kombo South, the gun saga which they claim were imported for hunting purposes etc.
Interestingly, according to World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility is “The continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”.
Therefore, before we express our admiration and award any firm for recognizing their Corporate Social Responsibility, we must reflect that corporations do not merely have philanthropic responsibility. There is an ethical responsibility, legal responsibility and economic responsibility together with philanthropic responsibility made up CSR. If any of these four responsibilities is missing in a company’s operations or attempt to fulfil its Corporate Social Responsibility it is not considered a CSR.
In my opinion, fulfilling all the above responsibilities which constitute Corporate Social Responsibility benefits firms/corporations/businesses/companes more than societies and that is why listed and public companies are mostly required by law to have a CSR Committee which is formed by members of their board and does an annual sustainable reporting which discloses firm’s commitment levels of the organization towards CSR and Sustainable Development. Proper CSR strengthens a company’s public relations, improves its reputation, reduces risks, and guarantees you a license to operate and an opportunity for cause marketing.
Therefore, it is genuine to respectfully and humbly put it to the notice of companies that are incorporated in The Gambia not to exclusively focus on their philanthropic responsibility but also consider ethical, legal and economic responsibility.
In inclusion, readers should also kindly and carefully note that GACH GLOBAL is legally distinct from the owner(s). They are legally separated, thus the business entity concept. No one should confuse the operation of two legally separated individuals.
Mr. Marenah, final year Candidate, MSc Accounting and Finance, DSE.