Social Investment as a Corporate Sustainability Tool by Feso Bright
‘Corporate Sustainability’ can be a difficult expression to use in these days of high risk, low margin business environment due to Oil price induced macroeconomic disturbances. According to the European Commission, Social investment is about investing in people. It means policies designed to strengthen people’s skills and capacities and support them to participate fully in employment and social life. Key policy areas include education, quality childcare, healthcare, training, job-search assistance and rehabilitation.
It is plausible that the corporate concepts of Corporate Sustainability and Social Investments have a tendency to be wrongly applied in many cases; organizations may seek to undertake social investments to meet compliance requirements rather than a conviction to improve the quality of life of its immediate business and operational environment or a true insight into the value and potentials for corporate sustainability.
What with all the pressure for businesses to retain competitiveness and short term survival why undertake ‘Social Investments’ or put ‘Corporate Sustainability’ on the front burner? I submit that Social Investments are as important as Capital investments and will suggest that you attend, sponsor or participate in an upcoming opportunity with the Livewell Initiave; a health focused social entrepreneurship which is championing ‘Social Investment as a Corporate Sustainability Tool’ from June 30th to July 2nd at its 5th Annual Grand Health Bazaar holding at the Grace Garden Events Center via Dowen College Lekki Phase1 Lagos, Nigeria.
According to the ‘Dow Jones Sustainability Index’, Sustainable business practices are critical o the creation of long-term shareholder value in an increasingly resource-constrained world. Also, Sustainability factors represent opportunities and risks that competitive companies must address. They argue that sustainability mega trends are changing our world and having a measurable impact on company top and bottom lines; they further submit that ‘companies which anticipate and manage current and future economic, environmental and social opportunities and risks by focusing on quality, innovation and productivity will emerge as leaders and are more likely to create a competitive advantage and long-term stakeholder value’.
The Global Corporate Sustainability Report (UN 2013) highlights ‘Health’ as one of the very urgent and impactful sustainability challenge areas, see below:
Livewell Initiative (LWI) has been chipping away at the Africa healthcare challenge since 2007 and has an ambitious goal to halve health-illiteracy in Africa by the year 2030; and to increase the life expectancy of the people to 70 by the year 2030. LWI aims to improve the health status of the people of Africa through wellness promotion and health-empowerment and thereby positively influence their health-seeking behaviour. It is little wonder that as part of its many programmes LWI introduced the Grand Health Bazaar (GHB) and is on its 5th installment. The main theme of GHB 2014 was ‘Sustaining Wealth Creation through Health-‐enhanced Africapitalism’. LWI can be your partner in driving sustainability through a health-focus going forward.
A final perspective; some might wonder, why Social Investment when we have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme in place? This may not be news but according to Carrol 1996 there are four levels of Corporate Social responsibility:
(1) Level 1- Economic Responsibilities: Where the predominant corporate mantra is ‘BE PROFITABLE’. For corporates on this level, sustainability is not an immediate priority and all other actions on sustainability are not possible
(2) Level 2- Legal Responsibilities: Where the predominant corporate mantra is ‘OBEY THE LAW’. Here, the law is the society’s codification of right and wrong. Corporates on this level will play by the rules.
(3) Level 3- Ethical Responsibilities: Where the predominant corporate mantra is ‘BE ETHICAL’. Here, there is an obligation to do what is right, just and fair. Corporates on this level are out to avoid harm
(4) Level 4- Philanthropic Responsibilities: Where the predominant corporate mantra is ‘BE A GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN’. Here, there is a deep-rooted belief system pervading the entire organization on how to contribute resources to the community and improve the quality of life.
Smart corporate executives and organizations will conduct a quick assessment of their CSR programmes against this hierarchy set by Carrol ’96 to determine if changes should be made. If your corporate mantra is only about profitability then I put it to you that your organization is neither on the path to competitive advantage or corporate sustainability. It is important that organizations aspire to be GOOD CORPORATE CITIZENS; these organizations have a focus on the community and really monitor, measure and evaluate themselves against improvements in the quality of life.
I challenge individuals and organizations that wish to be GOOD CORPORATE CITIZENS and wish to pursue or attain corporate sustainability to look to LWI as a partner for Social Investments with a health focus. Lest I forget, this recommendation comes with a personal guarantee and a tinge of bias based on first-hand knowledge; the organization was started in 2007 by my mother and they just keep getting stronger.
Call 0704 144 2634 or 0803 326 5802 for more information or to indicate interest in participating or attending the event coming up from June 30th till July 2nd. ‘Social Investment’ sounds fancy but the need is serious in this part of the world. Get involved 🙂