THE FOUNDATION FOR CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IS A NETWORK OF INTERNATIONAL CORPORATIONS ACTIVELY WORKING IN POLAND TO AFFECT POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY. WE FEED, EDUCATE AND EMPOWER POOR CHILDREN IN POLAND. COLLECTIVELY, WE HAVE FED OVER 6 MILLION HOT MEALS TO SOME OF POLAND’S MOST NEEDY CHILDREN. OUR MISSION IS TO LEAD THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN RAISING THE LEVEL AND QUALITY OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.
April 28, 2014 Vol. 11, No.16
"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."
-- Arthur Ashe
Our super member company KFC is planning a construction trip to the PromiseLand to remodel some of the class rooms in the Oparzno School. The photos below show KFC General Manager of Plac Rodła KFC Mariusz Pentela, along with Director of the School Dorota Admiak, as they plan the exciting “Team Building” renovations. KFC plans to renovate one classroom in early May and will return to Oparzno School later in May to do much more.
We will keep you posted as their plans materialize!
Monday was a big day for our PromiseKids. 26 boxes of clothes and shoes arrived on a Move One truck driven by our Move One friend Bartek Rajewski. Once again, we thank the British School in Warsaw and thank PTA Chairwoman Sharon Dry, and her committee members Jane Marshall and Anna Butruk. It was heartwarming to see that Move One donated two boxes of clothes for our kids as well.
We will send along some special photos of the kids opening up the boxes and trying on all of the treats.
During the first decade of the 21st century, it was pretty much a consensus among all but the anti-corporate campaigners that CSR was best if it was voluntary. Legislation is there to enforce minimum standards, but CSR is about creating best practice, and doing so in a way that finds the best wins for both the company and society.
In recent years, that consensus has been challenged. We have just seen one of the latest practical forms of that challenge, with the passing by the EU Parliament of a law requiring around 6,000 companies across Europe to report on their non-financial impacts.
But this is just the latest of a steady trickle of moves to legislate aspects of CSR. Perhaps the most significant of these has been the CSR law in India, which came into force on April 1st this year.
The CSR provision is part of India's Companies Act 2013. It requires that companies - public or private - of a certain size should create a CSR Committee including three directors, one of whom should be independent, and this committee should oversee the investment of at least 2 percent of pre-tax profit in social causes.
It is estimated that, as a result of this law, around 8,000 companies will put around $2bn into the community - and this in a country where underdevelopment, poverty and inequality are all still major wide scale issues.
It was not the first law in the world to investigate such a process, but it is the most blunt and audacious example that has been applied to a large business community. That makes it an interesting example, impossible to write off as a mere aberration on the part of some crackpot dictatorship in some dark corner of the world.
So is this the way forward? After all, people have been banging on about CSR for 20 years and although the scale of engagement and achievement of the leaders has grown in impressiveness over that time, the actual quantity of businesses committed to the journey has not yet become so much greater. There remain plenty of laggards. Indeed, since the majority of businesses probably fall into that category, it's arguable as to whether they're laggards, or whether it's the engaged companies that are the aberration.
The problem, as always, is one of definitions. Back in 2001, there were a number of people first defining CSR as being about core business process, not just the extra charitable activities. Since then, those leader companies have become exciting precisely because they are redefining how far you can push that focus to transform the business into a commercial force for good.
But the definition of CSR in the Indian law remains the one that most were trying back then to overcome. It focuses on acts that promote poverty reduction, education, equality, environmental protection and skills development. This is why you can put a figure on it, 2 percent of pre-tax profit. If you're addressing CSR through how you develop and sell your products, such figures are meaningless.
In effect, the Indian CSR law is a self-administered tax on business. And even though one might be tempted to support it because it's a country that could do with additional resources going into an impoverished society, the problem is that it makes CSR an onerous duty and completely confined to the realm of philanthropy.
What's worse, not only does it potentially distract attention away from core business embedded CSR, but it actually actively militates against such a definition. It discounts from the tally of 'CSR spending' anything from which the company might get any sort of benefit. So all those "win-win" projects that have companies putting in support in an area that is a natural fit for what they do to make money - those are now actively discouraged.
There's nothing wrong with a government deciding to tax businesses on its territory. Of course, you have to be alive to the consequences if you snatch too much cash away in tax, but it's what governments are there to do. And there's nothing wrong with a government ring-fencing tax income to be spent on specific social projects or causes.
But equating that process with CSR threatens to put the cause of genuinely far-reaching and valuable CSR as it becomes associated with the a pale shadow of what the real thing should aspire to achieve.
It is an object lesson in the dangers of legislating for something that is still in the process of evolution. You run the risk of killing the very thing that makes it work in the first place.
And there remains the concern - because India remains an environment where corruption is endemic, that ways will be found for some of those funds to find their way into the wrong hands. So, for instance, many of the funds newly released by companies will be channeled via some of the large numbers of NGOs that exist in that country. Many of these NGOs have integrity - although they often suffer from chaotic practices that may mean they struggle to be able to deal with significant inflows of resources. But others may be strongly associated with politicians or parties, and others may be fronts for corruption.
Indeed, legal firm Jones Day warned that US and British companies with substantial enough operations in India to be caught by the act may have to be very careful that "CSR" activities don't fall foul of anti-corruption and bribery measures in their home countries. That should tell you a lot of what you need to know.
Whenever legal measures around CSR are discussed - whether by the EU Parliament, the US Congress or other governments around the world - it is often said that the resistance of companies and their lobbying associations to some of these measures is just another symbol of how the majority of companies are careless as to their impact on the world, and purely focused on maximizing profit.
In the case of some companies, that may be true. But just as often, the truth is that the actual detail of the legislation makes it unhelpful, unlikely to achieve the positive ends that the authors imagine, and simply unhelpfully bureaucratic.
That's why people like me, who have been championing CSR at the deepest level, arguing for the widest possible adoption, for twenty years can look at measures such as the Indian CSR law and say that it is a step backwards, not a step forward.
Back in 2010, the UK joined the US in having an anti-corruption / bribery act that would hold companies to account for the things they did in countries anywhere in the world. There was quite a bit of noise at the time - and a lot of work done by organizations such as GoodCorporation who regularly featured the legislation in its publications and business lunches. But we were still waiting for the big hit - the company that would feel the full force of the law as a result.
Ironically, GlaxoSmithKline may end up being that company. Ironically because, under its current CEO Andrew Witty, it has probably moved further than most to tackle the issues endemic within its industry. It has, for instance, become the first giant pharma firm to end the practice of paying doctors to talk about its products.
But major multinationals in industries that have innate challenges are vulnerable to lapses regardless of good intention at the top, and so it has proven.
GSK is being investigated in Poland for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe Seretide, GSK's asthma drug. The company has said that it found 'inappropriate behavior' by a single employee who has been disciplined. Allegations on the ground suggest a higher number of those involved. This comes around the same time as it has also been on the defensive in China, Jordan and Lebanon.
The case potentially brings into focus the main problem with legislation in one country that is designed to punish misbehavior in someone else's territory. When you abolish jurisdictions, then where does the buck actually stop?
GSK could potentially be punished in Poland where the offence took place, and then separately punished by the UK authorities under the Bribery Act, and the US authorities under Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. Any kind of outcome in one country makes no difference to the process in the other two.
Why would anyone legislation to cover somebody else's territory anyway? Surely the respective governments and courts should mind their own business.
But of course these instruments come about because there is a gap. If some countries do not fulfill their obligations in protecting citizens from human rights abuses, and tolerate (or, indeed, benefit from) endemic bribery and corruption then someone will move to plug the gap.
But what we may see is an illustration that there really needs to be a global agreement that achieves that as individual national measures can pile on top of each other potentially to develop significantly unintended consequences.
Poland's GDP per capita is to reach 74 percent of the EU average by 2017, according to a plan prepared by the country's finance ministry and cited by the Polish Press Agency. In 2008, GDP per capita in Poland was 56 percent that of the EU average rising to 67 percent by 2012. That figure is now meant to reach 74 percent within three years thanks to dynamic GDP growth which in 2017 is estimated to be at 4.3 percent, the report states.
Finance Minister Mateusz Szczurek forecasts 2014 GDP growth at 3.3 percent and 3.8 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, unemployment is expected to fall to 9.8 percent (from 13.6 percent in March) by the end of this year and stand at 7.9 percent by 2017.
Food shopping on the internet is becoming increasingly popular in Poland with 4 million Poles buying food online, Gemius research showed.
The value of the market is estimated at some PLN 1 billion, a trading lobby POHiD representative Andrzej Falinski said.
Our Dollar a Day program may be just what you have been looking for and the PayPal method of delivering your money makes it so easy. We pay just about $1.00 to feed one hungry Polish child a hot-meal per school day, $20.00 per month, $200.00 per year. Click PayPal below to contribute.
May 9, 2014 - Final contest for “You can Dance in the Promiseland” at the Lekowo School