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Committee to draft Ghana’s CSR policy

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has put together a technical committee to draft a national Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy for the country.

The policy is expected to promote business activities that bring simultaneous economic, social and environmental benefits; work in partnership with the private sector, community bodies, unions, consumers and other stakeholders: and do other such things.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alfred Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, who commissioned the committee, said the draft policy was also expected to encourage innovative approaches and continuing development and application of best practice, as well as ensure that the country had at least decent levels of performance in areas such as health, safety and environment.

To ensure a comprehensive draft policy, a number of identifiable stakeholders are to be consulted. They will include the public and all who can contribute in diverse ways to ensure a successful process.

As a result, there would be regional sensitisation workshops, targeted meetings with associations, Parliamentary Select Committees, and private sector operators among others.

What is CSR?

Many questions abound as to the real definition of CSR and probably for all those individuals and organisations dealing with CSR issues, this is obvious. Different organisations have come out with different definitions - although there is common knowledge between them.

While some say CSR is how companies manage the business processes to bring an overall positive impact on society, the World Business, Council for Sustainable Development, in its publication Making Good Business Sense by Lord Holme and Richard Watts, says “CSR 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”.

In Ghana companies make donations to the needy and hospitals and call it CSR; some build schools for the people in the rural communities and brand them in the name of CSR; some provide social amenities, among other things, and they describe them as CSR activities.

These are very common in the country because of the lack of a definite policy on CSR as pertains in other countries across the world.

But Mr Vanderpuije is of the view that the policy will also create a framework which encourages and enables responsible behaviour by businesses, as well as align and streamline CSR initiatives with the national and local development plans.

Mr Siegfried Christine Leffer, Country Director of the German Technical Development Assistance (GIZ), admitted that there was no clear-cut definition for CSR but said there were a variety of definitions of the concept because it was dynamic, concept-dependent and holistic.

“Therefore different socioeconomic realities and histories create a different CSR understanding,” he said, adding that “in Africa and other developing countries, the prevalent CSR conception can be best described as philanthropic ‘payback’ activities counteracting weak public service delivery in key sectors such as healthcare and education”.

He pledged the commitment of the German government to ensure that the policy for Ghana was well crafted to benefit of the country and its people.

Caution!

But in drafting a national policy for the country, Professor of Practice in CSR at the McGill University, Mr Wayne Dunn, cautions against any move to draft a policy that will discourage foreign investors from coming to the country.

He said the policy should be seen as another avenue to entice the private sector players and investors to engage in business, adding that “if Ghana gets it right, the real benefits of CRS will be felt”.

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=285909