ICI: LEADING IN CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Aug 20 - 26, 2007
ICI Pakistan is one of the most prestigious multinational companies which have carved a respectable mark on the socio economic landscape of Pakistan. Its efforts and contribution towards social development in Pakistan has placed it as a corporate role model.
ICI Pakistan Limited is a 75.81% owned subsidiary of ICI Plc, UK. It was set up as a public limited company in Pakistan in 1952. The vision of the company is to be the leader in formulation science. ICI Pakistan Limited manufacturers and markets a range of industrial and consumer products including Polyester Staple Fibers, POY Chips, Light and Dense Soda Ash, Sodium Bicarbonate, Paints for the Decorative, Automotive, Refinish segments, for industrial use and Projects, Specially Chemicals for the Textile industry and market hybrid seeds. The ICI Group is a renowned international business. It employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide.
The ICI Pakistan corporate CSR initiatives are governed by the ICI Pakistan Foundation, which provides support to bonafide and established health care, education and social welfare organizations of the Country, along with projects serving the under privileged members of society. The Foundation, created as a trust in 1991 for this purpose, is allocated a percentage of the profit every year to carry out its philanthropic activities. Grants are intended to complement rather than substitute government or other private funding.
The social responsibility projects of ICI are focused in the areas of environment, health and education and have been running for decades. PAGE had a chance to talk to ICI people with a focus on its efforts towards social development in Pakistan; here is the general response that we get:
PAGE: What kind of impact are ICI and other MNC having in improving poverty levels in Pakistan?
ICI: Although we do not have any data to quote any specific numbers on this particular area, one of the most obvious trends in the Pakistani industry with regards to CSR is that philanthropy is more in terms of social marketing i.e. promoting a positive message through advertising or branding campaigns. There are a number of MNC based initiatives promoting practices like opening schools, giving scholarships to workers children and Umra or Hajj packages for employees. Health is also a major concern, especially given the exceeding pressure on state medical assistance and facilities. Over the last few years, we have seen organizations also venture into the areas of sports, entertainment and even youth grooming.
PAGE: What future programs is ICI working upon to facilitate the education and health conditions? What are the basic targets of upcoming projects?
ICI: If you analyze our CSR initiatives in Pakistan; rather than move from one project to the next, all of ICI's CSR activities are being sustained over the long term, with ongoing benefits to the community that they have been implemented within. This is true not just of our earthquake relief fund, but also of the hospices, schools, vocational facilities, environment related activities and welfare centers that we have set up around Pakistan. ICI Pakistan works with various NGO's who need support in establishing and running health and education facilities and environment projects. Each of the five ICI businesses in Pakistan runs 'nurture' community programs. This year we've completed the construction of a girl's school in the earthquake effected area of Gari HabibUllah.
PAGE: What is the general response of the people who are getting the opportunities through your organization initiatives?
ICI: The response has been immensely positive. Over the years ICI Pakistan has supported and encouraged social development initiatives through the ICI Pakistan Foundation, which include improving and enhancing infrastructural facilities in the local educational, health and welfare institutions in and around Khewra and Sheikhupura, where two of the major operations of the Company are located. This is in addition to the various CSR activities that are continuously being undertaken for the benefit of Pakistani society as a whole. ICI's staff is also encouraged to participate in and contribute to local community affairs on an organizational basis.
PAGE: How much funding or budget is considered by your organization to go towards corporate social responsibility initiatives?
ICI: At ICI, all CSR activities are initiated through the ICI Pakistan Foundation. In 2006, ICI contributed Rs. 8,539,000 to this foundation, which was then further utilized in the areas of Health, Education, Environment, Community Projects, Earthquake relief and various other CSR activities. The ICI Pakistan Foundation has partnered with a diverse range of local and international socio-welfare organizations including WWF Pakistan, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, Aga Khan Hospital and Medical College Foundation, the Teachers Resource Center, Special Olympics Pakistan, The Citizen Foundation, Children Cancer Foundation, Lady Dufferin Foundation Hospital, LRBT Eye Clinic, Winnington Hospital (Khewra), etc. After the tragedy of the 2005 earthquake, relief measures and contributions from ICI's staff and local and international partners amounted to over Rs. 30 million.
PAGE: What has been the government response towards these projects?
ICI: The response which we received on our 'Nurture' report from both government and private sector organizations is of encouragement and appreciation.
PAGE: How much progress has Pakistan made towards poverty alleviation and should the corporate sector be getting more involved?
ICI: Both local and multinational corporations are getting more involved and that is a positive sign. There are non-profit organizations now working towards guiding companies in developing their social responsibility portfolios. CSR portfolios are being managed by senior executives at companies. All the signs are positive. A 2005 report titled Corporate Philanthropy in Pakistan 2005 highlighted that 500 listed companies gave Rs227 million for philanthropic purposes in 2000, which almost doubled to Rs496 million in 2003, suggesting an improvement in the trend. It is pertinent to note here that public-listed companies do not represent the entire universe of the business sector; they only represent the organized sector. Therefore, private companies and/or semi-formal and informal business sector's contribution put together would be higher than this, hinting at a positive outlook for CSR in the country.