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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Much more to CSR than meets the eye

Cam Paint CEO Som Sambath provides advice and tips to aspiring entrepreneurs. Photo supplied
Cam Paint CEO Som Sambath provides advice and tips to aspiring entrepreneurs. Photo supplied

Much more to CSR than meets the eye

Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) is fast becoming a key part of a company’s operating strategy.

CSR, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, is defined as a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.

CSR is very much linked with the “triple bottom line”, whereby businesses measure their degree of success not only by financial metrics, but by also measuring a business’s positive impact with regards to social and environmental bottom lines.
Microsoft, Volkswagen and Google are some of the big-name firms with the best CSR reputations.

In the Cambodian context, there are many firms and individuals that value a philanthropic approach to doing business.

During the past two years, Hong Piv, director of Borey New World in Kampong Cham, has contributed millions of dollars to the Kantha Bopha children’s hospital as well as the Cambodian Red Cross.

Nget Vichet, Piv’s assistant, told Post Plus that Piv gives back to the community as a result of the profits his company makes.

“He has donated a lot during the last two years,” Vichet added.

“He gave $1 million to Kantha Bopha hospital and about $1.3 million to the Cambodian Red Cross in 2016.”

However, Dr Romina de Jong, who is spearheading the steering committee of Cambodia’s 40-member CSR Platform which works to promote responsible business in Cambodia, said there was still an overriding misconception that CSR is linked to charity.

“[Businesses] therefore perceive CSR as something that only costs you money, and miss the bigger picture of CSR as a change of management and procedures that eventually will change the climate and work ethos of your company,” she said.

“Actually, happy workers are more productive and more loyal, so investing in their well-being is something that you do earn back. Providing day care enables parents to keep on working. The win for the families is that their family income doesn’t decrease after having another child, the win for the companies is that they don’t lose employees with all the hassle of recruiting and training new staff.”

Som Sambath, a former orphan who is now the CEO of paint supply company Cam Paint, places importance on giving back to the community in other ways besides monetary donations.

He remains a passionate advocate for CSR and says CSR needs to be approached in a holistic manner.

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ANZ Royal’s CSR programs involve improving the financial literacy levels of the community. Photo supplied

“CSR needs to be more than just providing donations, I don’t want everyone to just donate money,” he said.

“Activities like giving one’s knowledge and time are also an important part of CSR and ensures long-term sustainability.”

Besides his business and philanthropic ventures, Sambath frequently attends guest speaking events where he shares his life experience to young, budding entrepreneurs in Cambodia.

He explained, “Our obligation as citizens is to do a lot of good deeds and if time allows we should contribute to our society’s development as well.”

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, has contributed time and money to helping those less fortunate than himself.

“I enjoy helping individuals and underprivileged people,” he said.

“We haven’t only provided money, but also trash bins for the public in provinces and at tourism sites.”

Vandy said his next community initiative would involve planting trees at several schools in Takeo province.

While there are many individuals in the Kingdom giving back to their community, large firms are also dedicating funds to CSR programs.

ANZ Royal remains on the front foot when it comes to CSR. An ANZ Royal spokeswoman said while the firm was very committed to developing the Kingdom’s banking system, it was also committed bettering the wider community.

“Since we began operations in 2005, staff have contributed more than 52,000 volunteer hours to 100 NGOs, enhancing education and employment opportunities for marginalised and disadvantaged individuals,” she told Post Plus.

“We’ve kept the commitment and momentum up year-on-year through countless projects.”

One of ANZ’s most successful CSR programs is its flagship financial literacy program, MoneyMinded.

The program, launched in 2015, aims to build money management skills to improve individual and family financial wellbeing.

“It’s critically important that we operate in a way which is values and purpose led whether it is how we interact with clients, how we act with regulators/the government, or how we interact with each other,” the spokeswoman said.

 “The rationale for MoneyMinded, for instance, is financial literacy’s role in strengthening the overall economic sustainability of communities.”

 De Jong said there were a number of reasons companies were becoming increasingly interested in sustainable business practises, including customers demanding it.

“Companies realise more and more that a responsible business isn’t just rewarding in itself, it is also beneficial to your business,” she said.

“Being CSR-certified for instance, opens up business opportunities or foreign investment. Also, taking better care of your employees creates happy workers and happy workers are more loyal.”

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