Apr 16 - 22, 20

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.

It is necessary that business community as well as industrialists in Pakistan in their dealings behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the employees and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.

In the United States, corporate social responsibility has been defined in terms of a philanthropic model. Companies make profits by fulfilling their duty to pay taxes. They donate a part of percentage of the profits to charities concerned.

The European model is more concentrated on operating the nucleus business in a socially responsible way, balanced by investment in communities for strong business case reasons.

About 40 per cent of the corporate companies in Pakistan think CSR means simply paying taxes. Thirty per cent believe CSR is a contribution towards community welfare or donating to organizations for social development purposes and community development, while 15 per cent think that CSR equates employee welfare, and 10 per cent think CSR means working in areas where the company's interests lie. Only five per cent clearly understand CSR means directly implementing economic and social development activities and projects.

Many companies in Pakistan are barley adhering to the CSR practices. Few organizations have taken the lead and they must be praised and congratulated for their efforts in contributing towards the society.

Unilever Pakistan is a good example of CSR. According to its sustainable living plan, the company has outlined a number of goals to be achieved by the year 2020.

Unilever Pakistan's sustainable living plan focuses on reducing the environmental impact of its products through reduction of greenhouse gases, augmentation of water usage, and waste management. It gives priority in enhancing livelihoods by rural programmes and creating opportunities through increased distribution and empowerment through education.

It emphasizes in improving health and hygiene of more than 70 million people by their personal care products. It is promoting sustainable workplaces by improving employees' lifestyles, encouraging variety, and creating an environmentally friendly office.

In their health and hygiene programme, they have managed to cover about 5.2 million people, under their nutrition programme. Unilever has also taken a dauntless part in flood rehabilitation programmes by contributing Rs2.43million towards flood relief and rehabilitation work.

Another company that has taken leading part in corporate social responsibility is PSO. The company engaged itself in broadening education, healthcare, community building, women empowerment, special children welfare, sports development, and relief activities.

The company has led from the frontline in its CSR campaign by financially supporting several national educational institutes in order to enable the outreach of education to the underprivileged across the country.

PSO has been supporting Behbud Association, a national NGO working in the field of reproductive health, community development, education, vocational training, to uplift the underprivileged sections of society.

It has generously supported institute for special children Quetta, the only institute of its kind in Balochistan to upgrade its equipment to facilitate imparting of education to the special children.

PSO was on the forefront in 2007 cyclone that lashed Pakistan's southern coast.

Siemens Pakistan, a leading engineering company, also plays a strategic role in the economic development of the country. Siemens acts with responsibility on behalf of future generations for the fulfillment of economic, environmental and social progress.

Siemens takes this responsibility as an employer, a contractor, an investor, and provider of innovative technology solutions. As an integrated technology company, the company wants to promote as many opportunities of sustainable development as possible.

CSR is a comparatively newer concept in Pakistan's corporate sector. The international market is adopting newer and innovative ways to show that they care for the well-being of the humanity.

The government should play an active role in promoting CSR in Pakistan by creating a stable environment conducive to investment, and by working with the corporate sector for the implementation of community development programmes at the foundation level.

The Qur'an states that all business transactions should be done within a clear, transparent, and ethical framework. Corruption, deception, and bribery are outlawed, and shareholders, suppliers and competitors must be treated fairly and with respect.

The Qurían also reports that Allah has appointed man as his vicegerent on earth, therefore expecting him to protect the environment from abuse (2:30).

As for quality standards, the Qurían states to "Give just measure and cause no loss (to others by fraud). And weight with scales true and upright. And withhold not things justly due to men, nor do evil in the land of working mischief."

Muhammad's (PBUH) teachings also encourage fair treatment in the workplace and discourage discrimination against minorities or other groups. The holy prophet emphasized on doing business by honest means.

A company displays CSR if it adheres to the basic criteria of ethics, environment protection, quality of products and employee wellbeing. It is advised that all Pakistani companies whether large or small based on above should do their best to meet the criteria.