Communication experts urge corporate entities to undertake more meaningful CSR initiatives
DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATIONS experts based in the Caribbean, Australia, India and the United Kingdom (UK) are encouraging organisations that are engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to take their initiatives to the next level. The experts advised that if companies embrace a more long-term and sustainable development-focused approach to their CSR initiatives, they will transcend from company-propelled activities into acts of social responsibility.
The recommendations were made during a recently hosted C4D and CSR webinar, titled ‘How communications for development (C4D) can boost corporate social responsibility (CSR) impact’. The virtual event was organised by Infinity Integrated Marketing Communications (Infinity IMC), a local-based communications firm. Joining the discussion were representatives from Shape History, Aarohan Communications, Engaging Dev, and Change Communications Limited.
BE MORE INTENTIONAL
Shanoy Coombs, chief executive officer of Infinity IMC, who moderated the discussion, charged corporate entities to be more intentional about their CSR activities. She warned that corporate initiatives that do not have a developmental approach can be viewed as a publicity opportunity rather than a genuine contribution.
“There is a real opportunity for you to drive lasting change if you take an approach that incorporates research, inclusion of the target audiences, long-term thinking, and sustainability approaches,” she advised.
Sharing similar sentiments was Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, managing director of the Jamaica-based Change Communications Limited, who also highlighted the importance of long-term, sustainable development solutions.
“It is legacy work, so it depends on what you want as a corporate entity. But if you want to have and leave that lasting impact, communications for development is for you because most of the time, when properly applied, it is something that is sustainable, and generations to come can benefit from it,” Mclymont-Lafayette said.
Meanwhile, Ed Fletcher of Shape History, who is based in the UK, said he would like to challenge corporate entities to reposition themselves to be more sustainable and effective.
“I think, for me, it has to be a bit of a mindset shift for corporates to look at their impact holistically and focus on those long-term, strategic, impactful goals that are aligned with their business objectives,” he said.
However, Meera Tenguria of India-based Aarohan Communications cautioned corporate entities to not only incorporate sustainability, but to also engage with stakeholders in a more meaningful way.
“Have a CSR strategy, which connects with your stakeholders at different points and creates an impact. For example, if you are a company that uses agricultural produce, can you do something for the farmers?” she asked.
Joining from Australia was Lisa Ritchie of Engaging Dev, who shared some of the advantages of a development-focused approach. She said that by employing C4D, organisations improve their credibility and align the brand with more lasting initiatives.
Coombs concluded the session with a word of advice to corporate entities.
“Look carefully within your organisation, and if you are not equipped, there are organisations such as the ones represented on this panel that are doing focused, sustainable initiatives,” she added, “not just with international organisations or development organisations, but with corporate entities that are committed to really seeing change.”
The webinar was geared towards highlighting how companies and organisations can apply development communications to improve the impact and sustainability of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
The discussion also highlighted the numerous opportunities for students who are currently studying diverse communications programmes and the application of their studies in a real-world context, where communications is being used for good.