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Meeting local needs

Case study of the book Social and environmental responsibility, 2006

Vincent Commenne, 2006

* BP Poland

* Titan Cement S.A. (Greece)

* Complejos Banyan Tree (Maldives)

* Citizen Police Liaison Committee – CPLC), Karachi, Pakistan

* ITC (ex-India Tobacco Company), India

* Bangalore Agenda Task Force, India

BP Poland: a multinational brings CSR to Eastern Europe

BP has been operating in Poland since 1991, concentrating on retailing, LPG, lubricants, asphalt and chemicals. With a nationwide filling station network, BP owns one of the country’s largest retail networks.

BP Poland has initiated some very interesting social and environmental actions. One of its contributions to Polish society and local communities is the Clean Business (Czysty Biznes) program. This program is the result of a collaboration between BP, the Polish Foundation for Environmental Partnership and Groundwork, an English environmental organization. The aim of Czysty Biznes is to raise the environmental performance of the SME sector and to demonstrate how this can go hand-in-hand with greater efficiency and profitability, including for local communities. Another example of BP’s involvement in Poland in the social sphere is Autokreacja (Autocreation). This is another project with long-term sponsoring from BP and the Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum. It aims to assist people not currently active in the employment market. The results are remarkable: the majority of people who have taken part in the program are now in work or further training.

Titan Cement S.A. (Greece): placing its expertise at the service of the local community

Titan is a Greek company that has been in the cement business for over one hundred years. Trading as the Titan Group, it operates in the USA, Serbia, Bulgaria, Egypt and Macedonia. In an implicit fashion, CSR has been at the center of the company’s philosophy ever since its creation, and for the past several years CSR has explicitly become one of the company’s core values. In 2000 Titan co-founded the Greek CSR Network; in 2002 it signed up to the UN Global Compact; in 2003 it joined the World Business Council for Sustainability Development. Titan’s actions underline its position as one of Greece’s most committed adepts of CSR. It is active in both the social and the environmental spheres. We will look at one example that caused Titan to be selected by the Global Compact as operating one of the top 1529 CSR actions of 2003: FAO.

The program is a fine example of how a company can react to local needs. Titan began with the realization that it had developed extensive expertise in preventing industrial accidents. Accident rates had been declining for decades, reaching levels that were extremely low by industry standards. Titan decided to make its methodology available to the local community. So, working with local authorities, in 2000 Titan launched a program to promote child safety and prevent accidents at school. The company had identified a key area, as according to the Greek health ministry, 25% of accidents in the 5 to 14 age groups occurred at school.

Two years after the launch, there were already positive results. A not-for-profit FAOS association was set up to promote awareness and education in this field: safety audits backed up by reports and inspections were made in 14 regional schools, and 120 teaching staff received extensive accident-prevention training; funding schemes were drawn up for these pilot schools; the project mobilized Titan staff, teachers, local businesses and local authorities. A master plan was drawn up to help make the FAOS program implementable in other schools and other regions.

Banyan Tree Resorts (Maldives), a chain of resorts in the Asia Pacific region

Banyan Tree is a privately-run company that is involved in running resorts in many countries in Asia. One of the early units in the chain was the one in the Maldives.

The approach of the company was to use Social Responsibility as a business strategy. With this, not only does the company take pains to identify and engage in socially relevant projects, but also advertises its activities as such. The resorts attract a number of eco-tourists. One of the schemes launched by the company is the creation of a Green Imperative Fund. With every room-night, the guest at the resort donates one dollar. The company matches this with a dollar and the funds are used for supporting projects with a strong environmental focus. It could be coral saving, “it could be saving the gibbons, or turtles, or it could be doing R&D work on new technologies for protecting the coral reefs” in the words of Ms. Claire Chiang, Executive Director.

Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), Karachi, Pakistan

The CPLC describes itself as a non-political statutory institution, operationally independent, managed by volunteers and offering its services through the police to all citizens. The CPLC is an example of the kind of “hybrid” arrangement for the provision of public services that could be useful where there has been a breakdown of conventional governance systems. The CPLC has become an important component of policing in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan. CPLC works very closely with the police, and focuses on improving police performance through supportive engagement with their work.

Both the federal government and the local business community have a strong interest in the economic prosperity of the city. The business community is the biggest contributor to the CPLC. Most of the CPLC members are active businessmen. The corporate sector helps the CPLC in many different ways ITC Ltd. (formerly India Tobacco Company), India ITC (formerly called the India Tobacco Company) is one of the largest companies in India and is a part of the British American Tobacco Company Group of companies. Up until a few decades ago, the company was exclusively manufacturing and marketing cigarettes and other tobacco products, but has diversified into other fields and now manufactures and markets cooking oil and runs a chain of hotels.

The move to diversify the company’s activities beyond tobacco products and the change in its identity (from India Tobacco Company to ITC Ltd.) could themselves be seen as a part of the CSR program. In addition, the company has been extremely proactive socially in every sphere – supporting social and cultural activities, focusing on environmental and occupational safety issues, etc.

Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), a unique public–private partnership in India

The BATF is meant to be a partnership between the citizens, corporates and the administrative agencies, which are all government owned – the Municipality of Bangalore, the urban development agency, the local transport company, the water supply company, the telephone provider, the electric supply company and the Police.

BATF brings together the various stakeholders in the city on a common platform. By entering into a private-public partnership with corporates, stakeholders and citizens, BATF identifies citizens’ concerns and helps in setting priorities for action. These are then followed up in “summits” organized between the different service providers and citizens. These “summits” follow a process of open dialogue that are free and open for every citizen to attend.

Since BATF is primarily a platform for dialogue, the quantitative data does not in any way reflect the mammoth task that they have performed. They have, for the first time in India, created a situation where government agencies are directly answerable to the citizens. The improvement in the city and services was very noticeable. This is a wonderful system in developing countries as branches of the government directly interact with the citizens, understand their problems and transparently work towards a solution.

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