Corporate Social Investment
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Corporate Social Investment

A Guide to Creating a Meaningful Legacy

Setlogane Manchidi

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eBook - ePub

Corporate Social Investment

A Guide to Creating a Meaningful Legacy

Setlogane Manchidi

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About This Book

This book is easily one of the best works yet on how to make corporate social investment work for the benefit of ordinary people … should be required reading by every CSI practitioner in Africa and abroad - much time, money and energy could be saved. - PROFESSOR JONATHAN JANSEN

Developing an impactful corporate social investment (CSI) strategy and approach with real potential to positively change people's lives can be a tricky exercise. Those grappling with how best to approach CSI will find thought-provoking insights in this book that will contribute positively to how they view, shape and execute their CSI strategy. In a most accessible way, this guidebook on CSI presents an instructive and constructive way of building a CSI strategy.

Setlogane Manchidi, Head of CSI at Investec, is known in the CSI space for his passion and strong desire to see meaningful change in people's lives. In this book, informed by his experiences as a CSI practitioner over the years, he unpacks what he considers to be essential aspects of CSI practice. Manchidi adopts and articulates a question-based approach to creating an effective CSI strategy.

Recognising that business is not separate from society, Manchidi suggests that companies need to ask themselves some serious questions, amongst them: Why should they be doing CSI and, importantly, why are they doing it? The questions, which are reflected on the cover of the book, are difficult ones which require complete honesty, deep consideration and the necessity of placing 'impact' at the centre of the formulation of CSI strategy.

Through this book, Corporate Social Investment, Setlogane Manchidi reminds us of the significance of a carefully considered CSI strategy and approach, especially on a continent such as Africa with many socio-economic challenges that continue to impact negatively on ordinary people's day-to-day lives.

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Year
2018
ISBN
9780639939575


CHAPTER 1



CHAPTER 1

WHY?

In 2014 I was approached by a local South African newspaper, the Sunday Times, to pen a column for their CSI supplement,3 which appeared in the Business Times section of the publication. I jumped at the opportunity to probe what I believe lies at the heart of effective CSI in South Africa: Why we choose to engage with society in the way that we do.
I wrote at the time: Effective CSI is about never losing sight of what you are doing and why you are doing it.’
In the column I underlined the importance of professionalising the space and understanding the link between effective CSI and the core values of a business. But this all starts with answering the all-important ‘why’ question. Rethinking your motivation is often a difficult process for CSI practitioners, one which requires us to do some deep corporate soul searching and strategic alignment.
As we embark on this journey together, it is imperative that you take the time to deeply probe this ‘why’ question; to understand how CSI fits into your company’s ethos and to really delve into what you aim to achieve. If you do so then, as a CSI practitioner operating in South Africa – and indeed the world – today, you will have created a firm foundation upon which to build your CSI strategy, approach and associated initiatives. When in doubt, always go back to the core of your CSI programme. Relook at the ‘why’ and simplify your thinking as best as you can.
From the outset, here is what I would like you to keep in mind and remember as you make sense of this chapter and this book:
  • The ‘why’ dictates the extent to which CSI is integrated into your business.
  • The ‘why’ affects what we do and how we do it.
  • Your response to the ‘why’ determines the depth and breadth of your CSI programmes.
  • The ‘why’ will affect the positioning of CSI in your organisation.
  • The ‘why’ will impact how CSI is resourced from a human and financial perspective.
  • The ‘why’ clarifies the ‘for whom’ and ‘with whom’ considerations of your CSI approach.
Quite simply, the more superficial your answer to the question ‘why’, then the more superficial your CSI strategy, focus and approach will be. The very process of probing why we do CSI as a society, and specifically why your company does CSI, creates the context in which your programme will either flourish or wilt. This is the base which supports everything we do as CSI practitioners. It is the foundation upon which we build; so we’d better make it strong.
Impactful CSI as a necessity in South Africa and the world
I am often asked why companies should participate in CSI. The short answer is that companies exist within – and because of – society. We are not separate. Our success as a business depends on the growth and advancement of the communities in which we operate. Because these ecosystems are so intrinsically linked, you cannot divorce the long-term sustainability and prosperity of a business from the long-term sustainability and prosperity of host communities. You cannot run a successful business with any kind of future focus unless the communities within which you operate are both sustainable and successful.
It doesn’t matter if yours is a high-level financial services institution servicing high net-worth individuals or an ordinary retail store. That is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that there are definite and tangible benefits associated with doing CSI well and contributing to a business-friendly environment. We have to contribute. We have to acknowledge, especially in the South African context, that the environment has been moulded by our past and that we have an obligation, as part of broader society, to participate in the reconstruction of our country for the benefit of society and also – let’s be frank – for our own benefit. Business cannot function and continue to thrive in a society ravaged by HIV and AIDS, poor education, crime, unemployment and many other social challenges. It is simply not sustainable in the long term.
According to people like Dr A.B. Susanto, founder of Jakarta Consulting Group4 the mere existence of CSR, and the increased uptake of CSI activities by businesses all over the world, highlights the fact that the wave in favour of this approach to business is much stronger than that against CSR. Other experts in the field – such as Harvard Business School’s Kash Rangan, Lisa Chase and Sohel Karim5argue that the main question facing corporates today is no longer whether to engage in this space, but rather about the best way forward for crafting impactful CSR programmes that sufficiently reflect a business’s values. So, in general, business ‘gets’ the importance of CSI activities, and yet the reasons which support the decision to embark on certain programmes vary from organisation to organisation.
So, recognising firstly that business is not separate from the society and the world in which it operates, companies should seriously ask themselves ‘why’ CSI. Why should they be doing it? And most importantly, why are they doing it?
In the South African context this is particularly important given our country’s turbulent past. This implies some unique challenges which face South Africa and which, in turn, impact the CSI space. This is an ongoing theme which I discuss when I speak at conferences and in CSI strategic planning sessions, and it is why I always come back to the fact that doing CSI well is not only for a company’s own advantage, but must be to the benefit of the people we all claim to want to help. Many hold deep expectations that government should be leading this socio-economic transformation. But, as the past 20-odd years in South Africa have so clearly shown us, the task at hand is simply too large and too complicated for government alone to tackle. For the majority in South Africa life continues to be a battle, despite government efforts and attempts to bring about socio-economic change in people’s lives. So there is a growing acceptance of the role of business in driving broader societal transformation through CSI and other efforts.
The gulf between rich and poor is, in fact, widening and this is leading to a loss of patience among many for whom change is not taking place fast enough. We see this playing out in the increase in violent service delivery protests and the rising tensions between the haves and the have-nots; much of which is unfortunately also race demarcated, inevitably often bringing racial tensions, given that South Africa is still scarred by its previous policy of racial discrimination and its associated impact. In this instance every other effort, including business’s attempts through CSI, if done differently and for the right reasons, could count significantly to society as a whole. Hence the need to focus on improving CSI for the benefit of so many in need of assistance.
Of course, many companies ‘do’ CSI for other reasons. It could be spurred on by reputational or compliance motives, or because they want to be seen to be standing toe-to-toe with their competitors. To be honest, getting to the guts of any CSI programme must take all of these considerations into account.
However, the ‘why’ we do CSI is just one of the critical questions those of us who live, work and breathe CSI and its vital social impact need to be asking ourselves. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis the need for a more strategic and focused approach to CSI has become even more paramount. We are in a challenging global – and local – business environment and part of the reason we are seeing apathy creeping in from donors is that the need to quantify and measure the difference we claim to be ma...

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