Friends of Cancer Patients society (FoCP) has concluded its participation in the CSR Summit 2014, where it highlighted the importance of Marketing and Corporate Communications in aligning CSR to corporate strategy. This was the second consecutive year the organisation took part in the panel discussion; it was also the second time that FoCP was named as the Summit’s chosen charity.
During the Summit, Dr Sawsan Al Mahdi, Secretary General of the Friends of Cancer Patients society, participated in the panel discussion titled ‘Creating a Value Proposition for the CEO’.
Participating alongside Dr Al Madhi in the discussion – moderated by Alexandre Lemille, Founder of Wizeimpact, UAE – was Kathryn Wightman-Beaven, Director of Global Corporate Responsibility at DP World and Simone Mechiche, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Intercontinental Region, SANOFI.
Dr Al Madhi started by asking a key question: what is CSR supposed to accomplish?
“The fact that CSR initiatives must serve the corporate mission and objectives, and be aligned with corporate values, is no secret. However, many companies are still putting a public face on corporate social responsibility activities that aren’t connected or aligned. This results in missed opportunities to leverage CSR, especially in terms of marketing and brand-building,” she explained. “That is why one of the key aspects of good CSR practices involves effective and transparent communication channels,” she added.
According to Al Madhi, CSR departments should stop following trends or chasing once-off events, but rather work on building a strong sustainable and long-term CSR strategy. “Because many CSR initiatives are separate from the commercial activity of an organisation, many tend to be once-off or short lived. Unfortunately, such uncoordinated activities, which are disconnected from the overall strategy, do not make any meaningful social impact,” he said.
As part of the discussion, Al Madhi touched upon the importance of having clearly defined CSR guidelines. These guidelines, she said, should take into consideration the fiscal year for budgeting purposes; indicate well defined and measurable outcomes; clearly communicate and report on how CSR is contributing to the sustainability of the company; look at how CSR is affecting the bottom line; and measure the impact of the initiative on the community, society or environment.
She concluded, “Successful CSR demands more than coming up with the next ‘Big Idea’. It requires social impact being treated as a priority, it requires transparency, and it requires words to match deeds. Using Marketing and Corporate Communications to align CSR to corporate strategy – when done right – will foster a natural sense of community and will show that business can join hands with the public in an honest, transparent way and ‘do good’… simply because it’s the right thing to do.”
This year’s summit – the 11th edition and served as a platform for regional NGOs, corporates, governments and SMEs to enhance their CSR initiatives. In particular, it was aimed at fostering entrepreneurial initiatives, developing communities, cascading knowledge and monetising CSR.