INTERVIEW WITH ZARRAR ZUBAIR, CEO PAKISTAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT
Oct 10 - 16, 2011
PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.
ZARRAR ZUBAIR: I am currently serving as the Director and CEO of the Pakistan Institute of Management (PIM) which is the leading management training and development organization in Pakistan. I have been associated with PIM since 1978 and for me this association with PIM has been very positive and developmental at a personal and professional level. I have an MBA degree from IBA Karachi with a dual major in marketing and finance. My area of operation in PIM has been in the fields of strategy, general management, and HR.
In PIM, my job involves acting as a trainer, teacher, consultant, and an administrator. I have found training and teaching to be extremely satisfying and mind expanding and have made a concentrated effort to deliver quality. I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively and feel that foreign travel is a great education and also is a mind opener. I have visited Japan, S.Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, S.Arabia, Dubai, Oman, UK, Canada and the US. In 1981, I went to Japan to learn consulting and this was a truly mind opening experience for me as I had the opportunity to observe and understand the Japanese management system right from the shop floor level. I am married and have three children: two daughters and a son. My wife is an educator and has over 35 years of experience as a teacher and school administrator.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) IN PAKISTAN?
ZARRAR ZUBAIR: The current state of CSR in Pakistan presents a mixed picture. Though there are many large businesses in Pakistan which operate as good corporate citizens and they uphold the values and practices of CSR, it must be accepted that there are a large number of businesses which pay only lip service to CSR. A large number of our organizations have no qualms in violating the basic requirements of CSR especially when they are dealing with their employees, customers and also the government. Exploitation of employees, foisting poor quality and sometimes unsafe products on unsuspecting consumers/customers and evasion of taxes and legal governmental dues is often an accepted business practice. However, in all fairness it must be accepted that the business environment in developing countries does pose major challenges for those wanting to uphold CSR and become good corporate citizens. In most developing countries, including Pakistan, those upholding CSR principles have a great likelihood of being punished both in the marketplace and also by governmental regulators. In spite of all this, it is heartening to note that CSR as a concept and a practice is catching on in Pakistan and in the future this will definitely grow. Corporate philanthropy in Pakistan is a very active and vibrant business process and almost all major corporations contribute significantly to worthy causes.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT CSR ACTIVITIES DURING RECENT RAINS IN SINDH.
ZARRAR ZUBAIR: The corporate sector of Pakistan has played a major role in providing relief for the rain-affected population of Sindh. However, it must be accepted that the level of help and assistance offered to the rain devastated people of Sindh both by the public and the corporate sector has not matched the scale which was visible during the floods of 2010. This may be due to donor fatigue or the perception that aid or assistance given in the name of the people does not actually benefit them fully. This is a perception, which needs to be corrected both by the media and the government at all relevant levels.
PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT CSR PRACTICES IN THE WORLD.
ZARRAR ZUBAIR: With the growing globalization and the integration of the world markets, the need for a very broad concept and understanding of CSR is being increasingly felt at the global level. Lately, this has been reflected in the changing nature of the definitions of CSR, which are gaining wide recognition. The following are some of the better known definitions of CSR which are more reflective of the current understanding of CSR:
1. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) defines CSR as "business commitment to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community, and society at large to improve their quality of life."
2. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) says "CSR is the voluntary commitment by business to manage its activities in a responsible way".
3. The European Commission's (2002) defines CSR as "A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interactions with their stakeholders".
Currently, the concepts and practice of CSR are based on four pillars:
1. Qualitative and ethical management of organizations.
2. A relationship of trust, participation, and ownership with employees.
3. Fulfilling of all ethical and moral social norms while conducting business.
4. Fairness and ethics in protecting and safeguarding the genuine interests of all external stakeholders.
On a global basis, the corporate sector has moved away from a grudging compliance with prevailing CSR laws and standards towards accepting and internalizing the concept that CSR makes "good business sense" and that corporations and their managers are the catalysts and guardians of socioeconomic growth and development. At a broader level, there are clear signs that CSR is now moving towards responsible competitiveness, which is a concept that stipulates that (a) corporations must practice responsible and ethical competition and (b) corporations must guide and actively engage with governments to promote economic, social, and ecological development.
PAGE: THE TERM CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY CAME IN TO COMMON USE IN THE LATE 1960S AND EARLY 1970S, AFTER MANY MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS WERE FORMED. YOUR COMMENTS.
ZARRAR ZUBAIR: Yes, the term CSR has come into common use over the last three decades. However, the growth of CSR is less correlated to the development of multinationals and more to the increasing size, financial muscle and sociopolitical power of large corporations. Today, the larger transnational corporations are truly massive. Their business turnovers, assets, workforce, supply chain networks, extensive product portfolios and financial power have come to rival and exceed that of many nation states.
With so much power being wielded by corporate managers who are responsible either to themselves, their governing boards or loosely to their shareholders, the question of how corporate managers use their power and the resources of their organizations has taken center stage in the arena of corporate governance and hence the growing importance of CSR.
There is a growing realization today that poor corporate governance of large corporations, which can lead to their failure can have a crippling impact on the lives of millions of people and can even put at risk the entire global market and financial system. A case in point is the corporate meltdown which began in 2008 and which is still haunting the world economy.
Actually, CSR in one form or the other has existed as long as there has been big business but the industrial revolution, which created a new class of power brokers and the corporate barons, sets the stage for CSR. In the annals of the industrial revolution, the abuse of power by the so called "robber barons" and the creation of human and social problems led to the realization that corporate good governance was a prerequisite to a successful and healthy partnership between the society and big business. This is the beginning of external (governmental) control on business and also the introduction of the concepts of corporate self regulation which have matured into CSR at a global level.
To the credit of big business and big businesspersons, corporate or business philanthropy has existed throughout history. In the West great philanthropists have seeded and nurtured education, healthcare, social welfare and R&D and the benefits of this philanthropy are undeniable. Similarly, in the subcontinent in the past and presently there have been commendable philanthropic initiatives by both Hindu and Muslim businesspersons. However, it should be understood that corporate philanthropy is an integral part of CSR and is not all of CSR. It should also be understood that on many occasions corporate philanthropy has a darker side, which has brought a bad name to CSR. Unfortunately, many businesspersons have the approach that once they have donated large sums of money to worthy social causes then they are free from conducting their businesses within ethical and moral parameters. This approach to conditional CSR or misguided morality has damaged the development of CSR in many societies and needs to be rooted out.