||Central Bank Of Barbados
A company’s role changes over time to meet the needs of the society in which it operates, and in these times, it seems more important than ever before for companies to have a socially and environmentally responsible presence. This, however, goes far beyond creating corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes as a means to an end. Instead, today’s organisations must re-imagine themselves as environmental and community stewards, operating in a sustainable way, to achieve both social and economic benefits.
In the Caribbean, many organisations demonstrate the importance of giving back, often without much being said publicly about it. However, three of the region’s top executives shared how their companies are putting CSR activities into practice.
Adam Stewart, Group Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International explained CSR is very active in the Caribbean and that without non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charitable entities, the Caribbean would be far worse off. He revealed that for the Sandals Foundation, which was founded in 2009, his family covers the administrative and marketing costs, so that all the contributions it receives are spent on projects within the region.
“We have generated $76 million US dollars in cash and in kind, 100 percent [going] to the Caribbean in the last 11 years. I stand really proud that the Sandals Foundation is a boiler plate of how to utilise the assets you have in people and platforms and bring phenomenal sustainable change.”
Such change can be transformative within organisations. Stewart shared his elixir for building morale.
“I engaged our own team members internally which I found to be a magic stick in terms of team building and camaraderie and coming together, meaning you can be part of the conversation and you could be a part of the change in your community, and you can be part of the solution... I do believe there is still a lot of good left in this world and there are a lot of people that if you give them a platform, they will participate.”
Anthony Ali, Chief Executive Officer of Goddard Enterprises Limited espoused a more pragmatic view. While social impact matters, he said, the primary reason for an organisation’s existence needs to be considered when engaging in corporate citizenship.
“Companies are there for one reason, and that is to create value for their shareholders. Beyond that, organisations need to now evolve into how do we create value for society and how do we support society in general.”
That is not to say that businesses don’t also have an obligation to the communities in which they reside, however. “There’s also the social responsibility perspective where we’ve gotten a lot from the Caribbean, from our individual countries, and we have a social responsibility to now give back and support.”
Anthony Sabga III, Chief Executive Officer of the Ansa McAl Group of Companies, also weighed in, noting that good corporate citizenship and the bottom line are not antithetical.
“The ability to do significant impactful investing, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s actually profitable, which will enable you to impact and invest further. Capital needs success in order to keep regenerating itself, and there’s a lot of that opportunity in the region… That in and of itself is what sustainability is all about... [We’re a] 140-year-old organisation and we’re playing for the next 140 years and beyond, and recognising that, we’ve got to put in the right mix of sustainability and ensuring that we are a responsible member of society.”
Regardless of the approach, the rewards CSR offers are endless for society and businesses simultaneously. Stewart put it this way: “Any organisation is misunderstanding the connectivity of today’s consumer and today’s employee and team members by overlooking giving back.”