By Peter Egwuatu
For corporate social responsibility initiatives to have the desire transformational impact on the lives of people across Nigeria, organizations have been advised to go beyond rhetoric and match lofty words and plans with action.Â In addition, stakeholders were advised to partner the government in a collective manner to drive this change, as it is the key to achieving the developmental objectives of Nigeria.
At the Third Hope worldwide Nigeria Annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) lecture recently, which was sponsored by Stanbic IBTC Bank, stakeholders who spoke in unison said that a â€œstructured and strategicâ€ approach to CSR would have a more sustainable impact on Nigeriaâ€™s socio-economic goals. This is in contrast to the current approach which is characterised by ad-hoc implementation of initiatives, which ultimately have less impact in communities.
Chris Newson, Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC, stated that the challenge of the moment is to match talk with action, adding that Stanbic IBTC remains committed to improving the lives of people in its host communities, and even in communities where it does not have a business presence. This is in line with Standard Bank Groupâ€™s global CSR platform, with its focus on education, health and economic empowerment.
â€œThe Standard Bank Group supports communities through corporate social investment and encourages employee participation in community investment through structured opportunities as well as matching personal donations made by employees to social development,â€Newson added. Stanbic IBTC is majority owned by Standard Bank, Africaâ€™s largest banking group.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the occasion, Dr Christopher Kolade, while emphasizing the need for corporate governance, noted that every stakeholder has a responsibility to make the system work. He stressed that the leadership needs to create an enabling environment in order to unlock the peopleâ€™s qualities and to enhance economic productivity across board.
Yemi Osilaja, Country Director, HOPE worldwide Nigeria, said the theme of this yearâ€™s lecture, Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond Rhetoric, was carefully chosen to reflect the need of the moment – getting down to work – as the lectures in the recent past were largely devoted to discussions aimed at determining the need to be socially responsible.
Anthonio Boyd, Vice President, HOPE worldwide who delivered the lecture, noted that a number of catastrophic events, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, in the United States of America, and the global financial meltdown were key factors in mobilizing his country, including the corporate world, to take positive action to help people and communities affected. He said Nigeria may not have faced challenges of such magnitude, but these devastating events underscore the need for collective action to uplift society.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Mr. Afolabi Kofo-Abayomi, reiterated the need for public/private partnership (PPP) to drive economic growth and development as no government will be able to provide all the needs of the people. He said the PPP model has worked well in Lagos as the state pursues the dream of transforming into a megacity.
Three voluntary organizations, namely the Voluntary Service Organization, Red Cross of Nigeria and Rotary International District 911 were recognized at the event for their invaluable contributions to the good of society.