Experts Call For A Balanced CSR Amid COVID-19

THE Head of Management Department of the University of Cape Coast Business School, Dr Abraham Ansong, has called for companies to use their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to show care for their employees, stakeholders, and their immediate communities.
According to him, it is part of the company’s responsibility to spend part of their budget to benefit society.

He further explained that it was also important for these companies to pay their part of the contribution towards the Covid-19 fund which formed part of their CSR.

He advised organisations to see to it that moderate and yet targeted CSR was a solid social investment.

Speaking at the fifth e-seminar series organised by the university, Dr Asong explained that whatever product or service produced by a company must be seen as an activity towards corporate social responsibility that must attract investments in order to ensure moderate prices and constant supply.
He however advised companies against spending greater part of their budget on CSR when they do not have funds to promote their core activities.

For his part, Executive Director of the Institute of Directors-Ghana, Mr Frederick Aryeetey, explained that CSR should not be seen as an activity by only big companies, and that micro, small, and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), should all play a part in it.

He explained that the essence of CSR during the pandemic is for businesses to use a fraction of their income to support other stakeholders.

He therefore called companies with enough buffers to have an upward adjustment of their CSR budget.

Mr Aryeetey further called on companies to support employees by providing them with personal protective equipment as part of their social responsibility.

Shift in focus
During the pandemic, much attention has been shifted to health and safety under the CSR with limited efforts at the environmental front, as the closure of airports and industrial carbon emissions have reduced significantly.

A researcher at Vigeo Elris, which focus on environmental and social governance, Ms Selma El Fard, further advised companies to be balanced in how and where they spend their CSR budget in order to ensure sustainability.

She also called for a shareholder activism to redirect CSR to reflect their interests and perspectives on proper CSR activities.

For her, environmental consciousness is receiving a valued investment as 63 per cent of investors and 87 per cent of millennials prefer to invest in companies that promote social justice, social investment, and employee welfare.

A Lecturer at the Department of Accounting at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Ms Sharon Donnir, noted that CSR was part of corporate strategy such that its expenditure must be budgeted for and approved by the board of directors and shareholders at annual general meetings (AGMs).
She explained that CSR should be done with the long term goals of the organisation in mind.

She said Covid-19 became a serious matter at the time that most companies were preparing for their AGMs coupled with lockdown and restrictions on movements and gatherings.

This she said affected the approval of many annual financial plans including CSR activities and corresponding budgets.

She therefore advised that companies should use virtual means to organise AGMs since spending without approval will have audit implications in the future.

The e- seminar was chaired by the Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, Prof. Francis Eric Amuquandoh.