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How Shell protects the environment

Ekram Kabir

In March 1997, international oil giant, Shell, published a statement of General Business
Principles, translated into 34 different languages. This statement recognized that the company is
accountable to five types of stakeholder; shareholders, customers, employees, those with whom
the company does business and society.
Two significant changes were made to the previous statement of principles. The first was a
commitment to the concept of sustainable development and the second was recognizing a duty to
support the upholding of basic human rights. Thus, the company defines its responsibilities to the
society. In the following lines: ‘to conduct business as responsible corporate members of society,
to observe the laws of the countries in which they operate, to express support for fundamental
human rights in line with the legitimate role of business and to give proper regard to health,
safety and the environment consistent with their commitment to contribute to sustainable
Shell claims to be the first multinational to make such a commitment to human rights. Then, in
March 1998, the group brought out a publication titled, ‘Climate Change – What does Shell think
and do about it’. In this, Shell authorities said that they believed in prudent precautionary
measures, and that emissions limits for greenhouse gases set in Kyoto provided the necessary
signals to encourage such measures.
In April 1998, Shell Oil in the United States withdrew from the Global Climate Coalition (GCC).
Shell Oil’s membership in the GCC had been a controversial one as the GCC actively campaigns
against legally binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions as well as ratification of the Kyoto
Protocol, which has set such targets, by the US government.
With regard to company responsibility to support human rights, Brian Anderson, a former
managing director of SPDC, spoke openly in support of the Ogoni 19, campaigners for the rights
of the Ogoni people who were being held in prison, and his successor, Ron van den Berg, has
been continuing in the same vein.
A 2003 report of the company looks at the progress the Shell has made on environmental and
corporate responsibility issues.
Shell thinks its products have to be safe for people and the environment. Unfortunately, use of
animals in laboratory testing is sometimes necessary, either because it is required by law, or
because there is no accepted alternative to it. Energy and petrochemical companies are relatively
minor users of animals is such experiments. Shell uses officially approved facilities and data
show that it does not test on cats, dogs or monkeys. Shell has committed funding and staff time to
organizations working to develop alternatives. A significant proportion of Shell’s animal testing is
carried out through industry consortia (groups of co-producer companies) – a method of reducing
the numbers of animals used.
Shell also thinks that their operations can also have a negative impact one local communities. For
instance, building new facilities may require local residents to be resettled. Shell's direct
neighbours may be subject to noise or other environmental nuisances. It is aware of the fact that
its arrival may cause a construction, boom, drive up local prices and strain services. 'File
company is committed to working together with the community to limit these disruptions.
In 2002, Shell continued to make progress at Norco - its refinery and petrochemical plant in
Louisiana, USA-on rebuilding trust with a local community concerned about environmental and
safety incidents. Through a joint venture with Motiva Shell aimed to increase transparency,
improve its environmental performance and raise the quality of life for the community. Site and
Motiva have invested to reduce air emissions, which are now 30 per cent below 1998 levels and
are supporting the creation of an independent air quality monitoring unit by members of the
community, NCKs, academics and local government.
Karen Westley, Shell Foundation Programme Manager. says: "Providint, access to modem energy
saves lives. Two million people-mainly women and children die each year from breathing high
levels of indoor smoke, mainly front cooking fires. This is the fourth-highest cause of death in the
developing world, accord- in- to the WHO
Shell signed a joint statement of success with its neighbour in 2002 to recognise the progress
made together so far. It is tackling similar issues at the SAIIREF refinery in South Afiica and
working to address resettlement and other community issues in its projects in China.
The Ek Kia, Country Chair of Shell Companies in North East, Asia, has been in China which he
thinks will likely triple its economy within 20 years. Energy and petrochemical use will grow
sharply. "The extra energy needed by China between now and 2020 is equivalent to all of Western
Europe's energy demand today. Air pollution is already a serious problem in many Chinese cities.
With coal meeting 70 percent of today's energy needs, China's greenhouse gas emissions are the
second highest in the world. The government is committed to delivering tomorrow’s energy in a
sustainable way and we are working closely with Chinese partners to help develop the clean
energy and petrochemicals the country needs to grow," lie says
Social performance is how well Shell manages disruptive impacts and generate benefits for
communities where it -operates. It has places where its performance is amongst the best in the
industry. For example, its Malampaya project in the Philippines was one of 10 projects to win a
Partnerships Award - sponsored by the UN Environment Programme and the International
Chamber of Commerce - at the World Summit oil Sustainable Development in 200..?
Shell's main challenge now is delivering good social performance consistently everywhere it
operates. Rather than moving straight to formal-underlines or standards, it is taking a learning
by-doing approach. In 2001, Shell's businesses created a dedicated Social Performance Manage-
ment Unit (SPMU) to support their efforts to improve Shell's social performance. In 2002, the
SPMU established a common language and framework for social performance across Shell. It
developed guidance notes for managers, ran training workshops oil several continents to help
share best practice and provided direct support to a number of projects."
Individual Shell companies also run social investment programmes. Shell’s contribution to these
programmes was almost $96 million in 2002, up from $85 million in 2001. That is approximately
one percent of its net after-tax income, in line with its five-year average. The largest share-more
than a quarter- is spent on education and skills development.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic affects our employees and customers. It believes that it can help by
working in partnership with others to reduce the spread of the disease.
Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Shell runs AIDS prevention and care programmes for its
employees and their families and use its retail outlets to raise public awareness (Shell Report
2001). It also has voluntary Group guidelines, which the company is piloting in several African
countries to supplement existing activities and help it develop a consistent response to this issue.
In Bangladesh, the Shell Bangladesh Exploration and Development B. V. is also dedicated to the
fundamental health, safety and environment (HSE) related principles, foremost of which is to
pursue the goal of no-harm to people while protecting the environment.
Stewart Brown, the managing director of Shell Bangladesh Exploration and Development B.V.,
says: “We have a corporate responsibility to publicly support our HSE performance and to play a
leading role in promoting best practices in our industry.”
Shell also works with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) to encourage and assist societies to
conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and ensure natural resources that are used in a fair
and ecologically sustainable way. She is the first energy company to establish a biodiversity
standard. It commits all shell companies to respect protected areas, maintain ecosystems and
contribute to conservation. It has shown it can meet this standard in projects from Gabon in
Africa to the Stan low refinery in the UK.
Businesses giving back to the society
Ekram Kabir

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a relatively new and rapidly developing phenomenon. It
is the commitment of business to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with
employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of
"But then CSR is not only simply a communality activity, although this is the most visible part of
it," says David Fletcher, the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Bangladesh,
while talking to The FE, adding CSR is also about the core values and ethics of an organisation.
"It, therefore, involves every employee," explains the StanChart chief in Bangladesh. According
to him, the field of responsible business practice is one of the most rapidly evolving and
challenging subjects facing corporates today. "Companies now have to build shareholder value
while balancing the increasing social, ethical and environmental expectations of the society," he
In short, companies today have to make profits with principles, which will eventually need
companies to be more transparent. And what is more, there is a realisation that being responsible
can actually be good for a company's reputation and for business.
But is CSR really needed in a developing country like Bangladesh? David thinks that a socially
responsible business environment is as much needed in Bangladesh as anywhere else, as he says:
"In Bangladesh, the society should get even a greater level of commitment from business. You see
CSR is about business giving back to the society. In developing countries like Bangladesh where
social institutions are still evolving, the corporate entities have to show more commitment.
Therefore, there is all the more reason why we need growing awareness about, and emphasis on,
CSR in countries like Bangladesh."
There, of course, was all old concept of CSR. But this is changing in Bangladesh. It is changing,
David says, but not as fast as it is changing in other countries. Businesses now realise that social
commitment brings recognition.
"All companies need to consider their CSR for two basic reasons. Firstly, because there is
intensifying pressure from all stakeholders to do so. Any company that does not develop and
promote its CSR policy to all its stakeholders will face increasing threats to its reputation.
Secondly, because it makes a sound business sense, enhances reputation, brings in new business
and improves stakeholder return," the StanChart CEO in Bangladesh said.
He adds: "CSR is something that cannot be made more successful by passin2 regulations. I think
more and more companies should come forward with CSR imitative from within to set examples
for others to follow. The government can encourage CSR initiatives through recognition awards
or tax benefits, etc. What is more, the government should encourage companies to be more
transparent about their codes of conduct, employment practices, etc. They are already looking
forward to doing this and this should be encouraed."
Standard Chartered Bank is serious about CSR. This is driven from its Group office. There is a
special office in the UK, which looks after CSR and ensures its implementation in all countries
where the Bank operates. lit each country, the CEO is responsible for CSR implementation.
"Our Chairman and the Group CEO personally take interest in CSR activities and are accountable
to the Board. Board. For more in formation on our CSR, you can visit our website, David says.
StanChart’s CSR activities are of two types. One type includes community development centred
around health, education and youth. StanChart encourages its employees to take ownership of
such projects and get involved in these activities. In Bangladesh, StanChart has a number of
community activities amongst which is its involvement in Island Eye Hospital at a significant
“We are building Standard Chartered Operation Theatre and Children’s Ward in Islamia and also
sponsoring Primary Eye Care Training through Sight Savers International,” David says, adding:
“In 2003, we are hoping to impart training to about 7,000 health workers. Our employees are also
donating their one day’s salary plus additional amounts for restoring eye-sight of at least 150
children by the World Sight Day on October 09, 2003. Standard Chartered Group is going to raise
fund to restore the eye-sight of 28,000 people by the World Sight’s Day under its ‘Seeing is
Believing’ initiative.”
But what would be the case, if CSR is looked at as another form of advertisement of a company?
If that is the case, CSR should be quite beneficial for business!
In this connection, the StanChart chief in Bangladesh said: “Many companies are discovering a
clear correlation between reputation and customer satisfaction. Loss of reputation is seen as a key
risk by a large proportion of CEOs today.”
A good reputation is the best form of advertisement in the modern world, David says. He notes
this increases business opportunities and profitability. Moreover, if a company and its directors
have made reputation “deposits” and created a good, open and honest reputation, it can survive a
When employees, consumers and societies meet
Ekram Kabir

When Indian women were getting the Miss World and Miss Universe awards one after another,
Bangladeshi women had nothing else but to wowing at their achievements. But when Lux Miss
Photogenic programme was introduced by the Lever Brothers Bangladesh Limited (LBBL), the
dreams of Bangladeshi women came true partially. They now have an yearly competition, where
the prettiest female face is glorified.
This is one of the examples of the LBBL’s corporate social responsibilities (CSR). And involving
people in business is possible when a company like the LBBL which believes that its purpose is
to meet the everyday needs of people everywhere. It has to anticipate the aspirations of its
consumers and customers and to respond creatively and competitively with branded products and
services which raises the quality of life.
The LBBL believes success requires the highest standards of corporate behaviour towards its
employees, consumers and societies in which it operates.
This is the company’s road to a sustainable and profitable growth of business and long-term value
creation for its shareholders and employees. The LBBL has strong historical commitment to
CSR- a commitment it seeks to fulfil everyday. It has been a proactive partner of the government
in pursuing the common quest of developing the country and improving the quality of life in
Lever Brothers supports community development through various initiatives. As sponsor of the
Missionaries of Charity at Pahartoli, Chittagong, the LBBL regularly donates its products so that
the children there are brought up in a hygienic environment. The Missionaries of Charity is an
NGO dedicated to improving the life of orphans. The objective of the NGO is to provide all
necessary care to orphans until adulthood.
The orphanage currently accommodates 95 residents. The LBBL supports this organization by
providing Lever Brothers products every month.
The company has assisted the Ma O’ Shishu Hospital in Agrabad, Chittagong in constructing and
renovating its infrastructures- outdoor patients reporting room, doctor’s chamber, four wards, and
corridors. The LBBL also sponsors students from various educational institutions in chittagong as
members of the British Council Library.
The LBBL subscribes to the adage: ‘a healthy nation is a wealthy nation’. Its efforts, therefore, do
not stop at sponsorship only. Brands like Pepsodent have played a pivotal role in driving oral
hygiene awareness across the country. Dental Health Week and School Education Programme are
two examples of the LBBL’s initiatives to help develop good hygiene practices.
The Dental Support Programme is a mammoth community exercise that encompasses both direct
and indirect dissemination of the need and importance of oral hygiene. Not only does a team of
dedicated Lever resource persons along with a qualified dentist visit schools to educate school
children; the programme reaches out to countless others indirectly by training primary and
secondary teachers.
Furthermore, the Lever Brothers joined its hands with the Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh to
educate ‘imams’ on dental hygiene who disseminate the message during prayer congregations.
More than 1.2 million school children have been covered under this programme and the Lever
Brothers is committed to the continuation of this service to the community.
Besides such activities, another unique initiative has been the Pepsodent Dental Health Awareness
Week. Under this programme, people call in for an appointment and have their teeth checked by
dental professionals during a stipulated time. While this enables people to know about their oral
condition, this also raises awareness among them about good oral conditions.
Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital, the flagship project of Friendship sponsored by Lifebuoy, has
completed its one-year of service in the riverine and char areas. In its one year of operation, the
Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital has provided services to around 36,000 people out of which 18,000
people were given direct treatment and the rest were brought under the health education program
with behavioural change communication.
The Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital was launched in March 2002. It started its formal operation
from May 2002 in Lakhirchar, Keraniganj on the river Dhaleshwari. In June 2002, the first baby
was born on the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital that generated huge excitement and conviction
among the medical team on board. The baby was named as “Bhashomani” as she was the first
baby to born on the floating hospital.
The Lifebuoy Hospital also participated in the SUB National Immunisation Day on August 10
and September 14, in Lakhirchar in collaboration with the local government health complex
where around 1,000 children were given Polio vaccine and Vitamin A capsule. In September
2002, the first “Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital. It is currently serving at Kholarbaru Char on the
western bank of the river Jamuna in Dewanganj under Jamalpur district.
At Lever Brothers, protecting the environment is not only their belief, the company treats it to be
its CSR. It works towards adhering to the highest standards of environmental protection. It has
therefore, adopted a proactive stance towards environmental protection to ensure that while
meeting the needs of the present generations, one should not prejudice the ability of the future
The Lever Brothers initiated an extensive water conservation programme, resulting in a reduction
of water consumption per ton of product by approximately 70 percent over last year. In order to
reduce air emission, the Lever Brothers has almost discontinued the use of furnace oil (which
contains almost three percent of sulphur) at its site, thereby drastically reducing sulphur di-oxide
emissions. Use of incinerator has also been discontinued since early 1998 to reduce air emission
from the site and replaced by an industrial shredder machine to shred all packaging wastes. The
Lever Brothers has also discontinued the use of Ozone Depleting Refrigerants like CFC.
Currently the site uses only HCFC as refrigerants.
As testament to Lever Brother’s efforts to conserve the environment, it has commissioned an
effluent treatment plant in 2001 at an investment of Tk. 20 million resulting in drastic
improvement in effluent quality – far exceeding the national requirements.
Apart from bridging the communication gap between urban and rural areas, the Lever Brothers
organized Surf Excel Painting Carnival. The painting carnival was developed on the premise that
‘There is no learning without stains.’
Over the years, the Lever Brothers has earned a reputation for conducting its business with
integrity and respect for the interests of those whom its activities can affect. This reputation is an
asset, just as real as its people and brands.
Diversity is both a challenge and a responsibility
Experience of TotalFinaElf in more than 120 countries
Ekram Kabir

As a global player in the energy and chemicals industries, TotalFinaElf is engaged with
sustainable development issues. Thierry Desmarest, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
says in TotalFinaElf’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report: "The very nature of our oil,
gas and chemicals operations has long required us to factor environmental, social and cultural
parameters into our industrial projects. Without this comprehensive approach, we would not have
been able to integrate or succeed in diversified, often complex situations. This is the reason, for
example, for our well-established commitment to consensus-building and partnership with local
communities, in particular in emerging countries."
Identifying and contributing solutions is an integral component of broader CSR. In some cases,
TotalFinaElf has to minimise the environmental impact of its operations or products. Its initiatives
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be cited here as an instance. In other cases, TotalFinaElf's
broadened responsibility is reflected by a positive contribution, as illustrated by advances in new
energies and local development.
The company works by keeping some broad areas in mind.
Oil and natural gas are essential components of energy supply for existing and future generations.
Their optimum recovery necessitates the use of ever more efficient technologies.
Natural gas, in particular, is expected to help reduce dependence on carbon-intensive sources such
as coal for power generation.
Renewable energies will gradually supplement hydrocarbon resources if their cost can be reduced
through technological advances and breakthroughs. "We play an active role in developing these
new sources of energy, where our technological and marketing competencies are relevant", so
notes TotalFlf’s CSR Report 2002.
When making technical, strategic and marketing decisions, TotalFinaElf strives to tailor product
performance to the challenges of sustainable development across the life cycle. Fuels, lubricants,
plastics and leading-edge materials are covered by this approach.
TotalFinaElf forges harmonious, sustainable relations with all host communities by emphasising
dialogue and cooperation. Through a number of partnerships, it supports local development, in
particular in the areas of healthcare, education and economic development.
Promoting sustainable development also entails a commitment to controlling and curbing
greenhouse gas emissions, reducing releases and emissions of pollutants, carefully managing the
water cycle, rehabilitating industrial sites and protecting biodiversity.
TotalFinaElf’s ethical commitment responds to specific issues related to the nature of the oil, gas
and chemicals industries which entail operations in sensitive countries-or countries in challenging
situations-production, handling, transportation and processing of substances that are
indispensable to society, but also hazardous pollutants, and significant interaction with
communities whose level of development varies.
The company deals with the tangible implications of its operations every day and the community
expects it to assume its responsibilities. To meet such expectations, an Ethics Committee was set
up in March 2001. It has five members, one for the parent company and one each for the
Exploration & Production/Gas & Power, Refining & Marketing, Trading, and Chemicals
businesses. One member's term expires each year. The Committees main tasks are to: promote the
shared values and action principles in the Code of Conduct to employees and people outside
TotalFinaElf, ensure that the Code is understood and implemented, and provide employees with
the assistance they need to resolve ethical issues that may arise in the course of business.
The modern society is increasingly turning its attention to environmental stewardship, industrial
risks and public health concerns. Such issues are the focus of TotalFinaElf’s sustainable
development process. This incorporates ambitious objectives for reducing environmental
pollution and conserving energy and natural resources as well as initiatives to reduce the health
impact of its operations.
The safety of people and plants is another priority of the group. This priority is driving
improvements in the management of technological risks, an objective embraced by all employees.
At the same time, to meet growing energy demand, TotalFinaElf continuously innovates in a wide
variety of fields, such as extending the lifetime of oil and natural gas reserves, enhancing
recovery from mature fields developing heavy oils, and exploring the deep offshore. In the
interests of diversifying the energy system, it is also actively developing renewable energies.
TotalFinaElf commits significant technical resources and confronts major environmental, social,
economic and geopolitical challenges wherever it operates. Oil and gas fields are often located in
countries where the socio-political environment requires heightened awareness as a result of
underdevelopment, inter-community tensions, and governance and civil liberties issues. Such
complex situations entail often-difficult questions form informed stakeholders, and can even
generate considerable controversy. TotalFinaElf devotes ongoing concern to these issues, being
fully aware of stakeholder expectations. It strongly believes that slogans and precepts are not
solutions. The answer lies in dialogue as well as appropriate social, economic and educational
support initiatives.
In emerging countries, fairness requires that the future of neighgouring, often very disadvantaged,
communities is taken into account. This is also an operating requirement, because of the very
serious risk of social instability that can be created by project development for both these reasons.
TotalFinaElf teams in these challenging areas are often among the first to perceive the scale of the
problems involved and to try to remedy them, through medical, technical and economic
TotalFinaElf operates in a wide variety of disciplines in more than 120 countries worldwide,
dealing with an extensive range of situation. This diversity represents an opportunity for the
company, bringing it into contact with a broad array of cultures, competencies and expectations.
Whatever the conditions that prevail locally, it, however, conducts its operations in compliance
with its Code of Conduct and standards, taking into account cultural differences.
It experiences diversity as both a core challenge and a core responsibility. It has two central
strengths in this area. The first is the recent successful completion of the merger of Elf and
TotalFina, a unique proving ground where it combined teams and cultures and selected the best
practices including those in human resources. Second, its deep roots in Europe-where three out of
its four employees work – allow the company to benchmark against proven labour relations
practices and expectations.
While it always bears in mind local factors, its experience with the merger and also demanding
standards are the foundations on which the company is building its international expansion,
leveraging the specific cultural features of the countries in which it operates.
HSBC at the forefront
Ekram Kabir
If holding workshop oil money laundering prevention is a social responsibility, the Hongkong and
Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Limited in Bangladesh has done a plenty of it. HSBC, in
association with Bangladesh Bank's Anti-Money Laundering Department, organised a day-long
workshop on "Money Laundering Prevention” in Barisal in June this year.
Apart from making people aware of the problem of money laundering, the year 2003 has already
been quite a fruitful year for HSBC as far as its corporate social responsibility (CSR) is
concerned. The Bank undertook a blood donation drive with Sandhani, a voluntary institution of
medical and dental students, Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka and Bangladesh Red Crescent
Society in Chittagong in May 2003 at its branches. A total of 55 bankers ill Dhaka and 25 in
Chittagong donated blood to Sandhani and BRCS. The bankers ensured that the safest possible
blood would be available whenever and wherever needed - for blood centres in Dhaka and
It also donated Tk 206,250 to the Shishu Polli Plus in Sreepur, a project providing food,
accommodation, education, vocational training and security to 485 children and 115 destitute
mothers from all over Bangladesh. Besides, the bank made another donation of Tk. 100,000 to
help victims of the cold wave that swept Bangladesh earlier this year. The money was donated to
purchase high protein biscuits, blankets and second hand clothing and distribute them to various
districts across Bangladesh
At that time, David JH Griffiths, the CEO of HSBC in Bailgla4esh, reportedly said: "In line with
HSBC's commitment making contributions to charitable events at organisations, this contribution
to the Red Cross will prove beneficial to the unfortunate victims of the cold wave and help the
very needy of the country."
In the same month, HSBC assisted in organising and conducting a series of activities for the
public at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Savar to raise awareness
about road safety, promote the work of the CPP as well as provide an enjoyable day for CRP
The HSBC CEO inaugurated the event by planting a tree at the new 14,400 square feet medicinal
plant herbarium. Under its global ‘Investing in Nature' Programme, HSBC provided 500
seedlings to tile herbarium project, which will offer CRP a potential income source as supplier of
medicinal herbs, a bio-diversity preservation area and a centre for national and international
academic/research institutions to conduct research on medicinal plants.
There's more to the bank's contribution in the country's environment sector. As part of its donation
and community sponsorship programme for 2001, the HSBC gave a cheque for Taka 120,000 to
the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) in 2001 to help spread environment
awareness among children in the primary education sector of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, this year, HSBC has adopted the Equator Principles to help the Group assess the
environmental and social impact of commercial lending proposals. This will reinforce the bank's
long established environmental and social risk evaluation process and its position as one of the
leading companies in environmental impact management. The Equator Principles are a set of
voluntary guidelines. developed by major international banks, that establish a common
framework to address the environmental and social issues that arise while financing projects. The
guidelines also attempts at ensuring that they are realized according to sound environmental
management practices.
In 1992, HSBC became a founder signatory of the UN Environment Programme’s Statement by
Financial Institutions on the Environment and Sustainable Development. In 2001, it became a
corporate member of the UN Global Compact that challenges companies to demonstrate progress
in supporting and advancing its principles in three areas – labour standards, human rights and
environmental responsibility.
HSBC's Investing in Nature programme, a $50 million partnership with WWF, Botanic Gardens
Conservation International (BGCI) and Earthwatch, demonstrates its commitment to the
environment. It will clean up three rivers, benefiting 50 million people who depend upon them,
help save 20,000 rare plant species from extinction,
Along with helping the blind, the HSBC donated Tk 200,000 to SAARC Women's Association ill
September last. Interestingly, it donated money in photography. The batik donated Tk 50,ooo to
'Out of Focus', a group of 11 young underprivileged photographers supported by DRIK since
Out of Focus' has arranged several exhibitions ill Bangladesh and overseas, they are also in the
business of providing photography, video and exhibition support services.
The HSBC is also at the forefront in giving out awards. Following enthusiastic responses over the
past three years, the 4th HSBC Young IT Entrepreneur Awards was launched last month to inspire
creativity among young people in HongKong and cultivate their interest ill entrepreneurship. In
August this year, it agreed to grant HKD7 million in scholarships, bursaries and other
development awards to 300 students for the current academic year.
The awards cover a wide range of studies and include scholarships and bursaries, a one-year
overseas study scheme as well as a China career development award programme for
undergraduate students, and all exchange programme between students.
eGovernment for better productivity
Ekram Kabir

Reports from Srinagar said last Thursday that Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir had just
become that country's second state after Andhra Pradesh, to introduce video conferencing facility
and eGovemance in government administration. The facilities are expected to help improve
efficiency, and ensure effective monitoring and supervision of works in all the regions of the
In phases, the Indian government would extend the facility to all district headquarters in the state.
It is expected to help the senior officers at Secretariat to monitor development schemes at district
level, listen to public grievances and interact with locals. It would also cut administration's travel
time and costs besides bringing efficiency in work culture and enabling departments to follow up
cases with Central government ministries.
This is how the government in that country is trying to offer better public services through
egovernance. India is not alone in this field. Even the technologically developed countries, which
have started the process of introducing egovernance, are still trying to improve the system by
offering more up-todate facilities to their peoples. egovernance is also becoming important in
bilateral ties, especially in trade relations. among countries across the world. Just recently, the
European Union had set out a new roadmap for the future cooperation, through egovernance,
between Europe and China. And that's how egovernance is becoming a part and parcel of future
strategic planning.
Unfortunately, very little is being done in Bangladesh. Public administrators here are neither
being computer literate on their own nor are they letting someone teach them. They are failing to
understand that they are required to improve efficiency, productivity and quality of their services.
They are also failing to understand that citizens expect "service" from them. Commercial units
also, on the other hand, are increasingly wanting administrative burden to be reduced, so that they
can be more' competitive.
The problem in Bangladesh is that its public administration suffers from the lack of productivity.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) can help them to cope with this challenge. In
doing so, the focus should not be on ICT itself. Instead, it should be oil the use of ICT combined
with organisational change and new skills with a view to improving public services, democratic
processes and public policies. This is called eGovernment.
eGovernment is not a goal in it self. It is a tool for public sector reform, enabling the public sector
to strengthen good governance in the knowledge-based society. This means:
Firstly, a public sector that is open and transparent. Administrations should be more
understandable and accountable to citizens.
Secondly, a public sector that is at the service for all. A user-centred public sector will, exclude
no one from its services and respect everyone as an individual, by providing personalised
Third. a productive public sector- that delivers maximum value for taxpayers' money.
The objectives are quite ambitious, but not unachievable. Already practices in many countries
show that egovernment is a powerful means indeed to deliver better quality public services,
reduce waiting times and improve cost effectiveness. raise productivity. and improve
transparency and accountability.
Productivity matters’ in the public sector as much as anywhere else in the economy. Productivity
growth is the only sustainable source of increase in real incomes and welfare. A more productive
public sector means better use of public finance, through higher efficiency.
A more productive public sector will also benefit the private sec-,i, and make companies more
competitive. By egovernment, one can cut the red tape that is bother-companies. More
competitive. By eGovernment, one can cut the red tape that is bothering companies. Increased
productivity means more time for personal contact, less standing in line, less time in front of the
A few examples of increased productivity and efficiency are:
• The national public procurement agency in Denmark has double its productively and
completely eliminated complaints, through electronic tendering.
• The Romanian national procurement system reports savings of 20 per cent.
• The Swedish Virtual Customs Office processes 90 per cent of all declarations electronically
and deals through automated clearance for 70 percent of the declarations within three
Accordingly eGovernment has a proven track record that it can help public administrations to be
come more productive and offer personalized services for all, in an open and transparent way. Its
can go gar beyond bringing services online, provided that public administrations adapts their
organization and acquire new skills.
What is needed in Bangladesh is a change of mindset towards a public service that puts the
citizens at the center. The public administration should be enabled to be an active contributor to
economic and societal progress. Political leadership and commitment are essential, in order to
keep the longer term vision in mind. Only a handful of IT managers won’t do; Bangladesh needs
Profiting some more from the society?
Ekram Kabir

The adoption of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by companies could he seen in terms of
their willingness to do exactly what the consumers pay for - by making the business more
successful and more competitive. Through this process, one can boost the organisational goals.
Companies contribute a lot of money in games and sports as part of their CSR initiatives. But,
many would question their objectives -is it mere promotion of sports or just enhancing one's
organisational goal? Some corporate gurus say that both can be true.
There is no dearth of sports fans in tile world who set up their schedules according to the dates of
important sports tournaments, who read sports pages everyday, and tune in to sports shows on
television and radio to learn more about their favourite sports personalities.
Sports are enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. Sports industry is a big business. An
estimate says total revenues generated by sports in the US and Canada (from ticket sales to
purchases of sports equipment) were more than $881.5bn in 1995, and rose to $160bn by the turn
of the century. It was estimated that, by 2000, North American firms were spending $13.8bn on
advertising through sports alone while global sports advertising reached $430bn.
The television rights to the US National Football League for 1990-1994 earned NFL $43.6bn.
Nike's total sales in the US were $4.73bn iii 1994. $600m came through Michael Jordan branded
basketball shoes alone. In 1993, Nike spent almost $90m on advertising and marketing.
Football is often branded people's game", yet for many, attending any, premiere tournament is
simply beyond their means. The Chelsea versus Aston Villa game in England at the beginning of
1996-1997 season witnessed some 28,000 attendants, each attendant paying £20. There was no
concession for children either-they also paid £20.
On 14 September 1996, The Guardian carried a report on the finances of England’s biggest club,
Manchester United: “Of United’ £60m turnover last season, £23 came from one surprising source:
merchandising everything from replica shirts and videos to books and lamps.” United’s Magazine
is the biggest selling sports monthly in UK with a circulation of 140,000 copies. In Thailand, it
sells 40,000 copies per month in Thai language. Its first print in Norwegian recently sold out
9,000 copies in a week. On 16 September 1996, The Independent reported that the income from
satellite television alone meant that England's Premier League clubs would earn £670 in between
1996 and 2001.
JVC, Fuji and Canon, each sponsored USA 1994 to the tune of £20m. Sony Creative Products had
exclusive marketing rights to the Soccer World Cup 1998 finals and Dentsu controlled a 49 per
cent stake in ISL worldwide - the marketing arm of FIFA. Such is the relationship between
sports-corporate business and CSR.
But experts thinks there is another hidden relationship. As England progressed towards the
semifinals of Euro 1996, The Financial Times carried out a survey of big business reaction to the
euphoria sweeping England. Jeff Forest of Sheffield based in Tempered Spring reported:
"England's performance has given people a lift. A happy workforce is a better workforce." Peter
Louce, manager of an automotive plant, believes that a run of England victories will lead to
higher productivity.
For a vast majority, sport is something they enjoy. It serves as it essential escape mechanism in
their lives. For some it can become the means of clambering out of poverty. For others,
participation in sports gives dignity to life. For millions of people sports seem to provide an
escape from the drudgery of everyday life. For many more, watching sports, either live or on
television, provides a release from work pressure and a sense of identification with an individual
or club which seems to provide meaning to their lives.
Leisure is seen by many as, something distinct from work, something to be earned as recompense
for a ‘fair day’s work.’ Now wouldn’t putting money in games and sports be commodifying and
distorting the desire for escape and real human contact, which draws people to sports in the first
place? For instance, one of the often-quoted enjoyments of attending a football or a cricket match
is being part of the crowd. Yet, at its best, a crowd cannot be a substitute for the genuine fraternal
feelings of human beings. Liberated human beings, who are also autonomous individuals, can
only develop these feelings. JM Brohm in his "Sport: A Prison of Measured Time" wrote: "Sport
restores to mankind some of the functions which the machine has taken away from him, but only
to regiment him remorselessly in the service of the machine."
Sports, despite the perception of participants and spectators, come under the realm of 'unfree
activity'. The rationality of production, based on commodity exchange, reduces all individuality
to a minimum. It organises and controls people not only in their work but also in their leisure.
Another expert said: "Amusement in advanced capitalism is the extension of work. It is sought
after by those who wish to escape the mechanised work process in order to be able to face it
again." The promise of sport is the liberation of the body, he said, humiliated by economic
interests, the return to the body of a part of the functions of which it has been deprived by
industrial society.
Sports ideology, like all ideologies, conceals the real structure of productive and social relations.
This ideology makes people believe that sportsmen and sportswomen are free and equal. This
ranks them into different grades and categories. The hero, according to this ideology, is one who
is self-made', who achieves great heights on the basis of his/her merit and through his/her own
efforts. The message that is being transferred to people is that anyone can make it to the ton.
The reality, however, is different. Teenagers, who become professional football players, are not
necessarily the 'best' or 'most talented' players. They are often those that are most prepared to
accept the tight discipline and intensive training demanded of them. Discipline and training in
modern sports often equal a massive distortion of the human body, which can lead to all sorts of
In a powerful indictment of the world of women's gymnastics and figure skating, Joan Ryan
reports in The Guardian of London: "What I found was a story about legal, even celebrated child
abuse. In the dark troughs along the road to the Olympics lay the bodies of the girls who stumbled
on the way, broken by the work, pressure and humiliation. 1 found a girl whose father left the
family when she quit gymnastics at the age of 13, who scraped her arms and legs with razors to
dull her emotional pain and who needed a two-hour pass from a psychiatric hospital to attend her
high school graduation."
Such is the condition of these girls who broke their necks and backs, who so desperately seek the
perfect, weightless gymnastic body that they starve themselves to death. Others become so
obsessive about controlling their weight that they lose control of themselves instead. There are
cases that are sexually coaches.'
Now, what is CSR to like JVC, Fuji and Canon? Aren’t they selling more, say, television, sets,
when they are contribution money in a world-cup tournament? Contributing money, even in the
Olympics, in this manner oily, shows that they have a definite objective in mind. The more they
hold tournaments like these, the more their products sell. If that be the case, the meaning of CSR
doesn't only mean to give "some of the profits back to society", it rather means "profiting some
more" from the society.
A welcome step to make MNCs legally accountable
Ekram Kabir

The UN sub-commission for the promotion and protection of human rights last month adopted a
draft code of conduct on corporate practice which is expected to make certain corporate
responsibilities of multinational companies similar to those of governments. By doing so, the UN
wanted the authorities to tackle issues such as bad worKII1g conditions for employees in poor
countries, or instances where firms run roughshod over local communities while building new
plants, pipelines etc.
However, it would take some time before the new rules - called Norms on the Responsibilities of
Transnational Corporations-apply. NG0s including the Amnesty International and the Human
Rights Watch welcomed this move. But difficult issues of interpretation would remain. A joint
statement had said: "Clear international standards will help ensure that business will be part of the
solution to today's problems and not - knowingly or unknowingly - exacerbate them."
"The norms help to level the playing field for companies that want to do the right thing for human
rights. Now every company's obligations are detailed and no company can say that it doesn't have
responsibilities in the area of human rights," Arvind Ganesan, director of Human Rights Watch's
corporate responsibility (CSR) division, was quoted as saying.
Human rights issues have come to the fore as C SR practised by the large corporations. Over the
past ten years, there has been a phenomenal growth in private sector interest in human rights.
Earlier, it was difficult to make companies understand that human rights were relevant to the
business world. Today, over 700 companies are participating in the UN's Global Compact, which
lists human rights as one of the nine principles to which signatories must commit.
CSR and human rights issues feature prominently on the agenda of the World Economic Forum
(WEF). A number of large, well-known corporations have made explicit the written commitment
to respect human rights in voluntary codes. Human rights groups, these days, are also invited to
the WEF meetings
But, while interest might be widespread, serious commitment to human rights has been patchy,
says a report of the Amnesty International. There are a few in the corporate sector who have
adopted and applied human rights principles in their business out of genuine conviction. But more
often the shift has come through public exposure and scandal. Just as disasters like Exxon Valdez
in Alaska and the disposal of the Brent Spar platform brought environmental concerns into the
limelight. Human rights really popped onto companies' radar screens as a result of crisis.
The execution of the Ogoni 9 in Nigeria and the conduct of private security firms in Colombia
convinced oil giants Shell and BP to take human rights concerns on board. Evidence linking
diamonds from Sierra Leone with the reprehensible armed opposition group, the Revolutionary
United Front, and its terror tactics of amputating the limbs of civilians, brought the diamond
industry to the table, to agree to a system of international certification to weed out conflict over
diamonds. Allegations of profiting from sweatshops in the supply chain forced apparel companies
to look at human rights concerns.
The key motivating factor in these cases was the exposure and pressure by NG0s and the risk to
reputation. Nestlé became a target of a boycott over its past policies promoting infant formula
over breast milk. Increased threat of litigation might also affect the way companies look at human
rights. Cape Plc was sued in the UK on allegations of having exposed its workers to asbestos in
South Africa. Unocal, ExxonMobil and Coca Cola have all faced law suits for complicity in
human rights violations in Myanmar, Indonesia and Colombia respectively.
One survey last year showed that only about 40 companies had explicitly incorporated human
rights in their corporate policy. Several studies have shown that, at the board level, interest in
human rights and social issues is low. In the present economic climate, some companies and
commentators are already talking about CSR and human rights as threats and unnecessary costs.
Many companies still claim that human rights do not apply to them because governments, not
companies, sign treaties. Even as the role and influence of companies have been increasing in
people's everyday lives, a concomitant system for ensuring their accountability has been missing,
making companies, particularly MNCS, a special breed. They commanded authority but lacked
responsibility; they controlled vast resources but did not have sovereignty. They operated in a
grey zone at the international level where rules were unclear and control was difficult. Arguably,
they could do what they wanted and got away with it; or they could choose not to do what they
ought to do because they had no clear legal obligation.
But, as world business and political leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the 33rd annual
WEF, a coalition of environmental, development, labour and human rights groups released a joint
report. The report documents the irresponsible environmental, labour and human rights practices
committed by ExxonMobil, Nike, McDonald's, Unocal, Doe Run, Freeport McMoran and
Newmont Mining. Some of the practices described in the report are:
* 90 per cent of children in La Oroya, Peru, the site of a lead smeltering facility owned by St.
Louis based Doe Run, have bloodlead levels above acceptable levels, and 20 per cent have levels
so high they should require hospitali-sation.
• A Chinese manufacturer of McDonald's Happy Meal toys employs 13- year-olds to work 16-
hour days for $3 a day.
The UN drive to make multinationals legally accountable for their investment practices abroad,
including the adoption of acceptable labour and environmental standards, is certainly a welcome
first step, whose early implementation is likely to bear positive results.
When ideals do not match deeds
Ekram Kabir

A relatively new and rapidly developing phenomenon, corporate social responsibility (CSR), is
primarily about businesses ploughing back a part of their profit for the welfare of the society.
CSR is also a commitment of businesses to contribute to sustainable economic development and
work with employees and their families, the local community and the society to improve the
quality of life.
When a business pays back to the society, what is or what should be the nature of this process?
Do CSRs always have to be charity? Or should CSRs mean the overall development of the
society? One of the best examples that can be cited for this is the McDonald's -one of the most
popular food chains based in the US. Last year, the McDonald's announced new global healthy
lifestyle initiatives, including a commitment to develop new "Happy Meal" options, the
establishment of an expert Advisory Council on Healthy Lives, and collaborations with the World
Health Organisation and the US Department of Health and Human Services to help educate
consumers about the role of nutrition and fitness for maintaining good health.
As far as CSR initiatives are concerned, this certainly is a very big step taken by the US food
giant. There are many such companies which have, of late, become conscious of the well-being of
the people who are their client consumers. But what if a certain product of a company -which
contributes a lot of money to social activities like games and sports, library initiatives etc. -
negatively affects the. consumers health? Would that still be a good example of social
In the US, for example, food corporations and the local government are alleged to be deeply
entwined in a dietary conspiracy. Last year a group of overweight Americans sued four fast-food
giants accusing them of knowingly serving meals that cause obesity and disease. They claimed
that McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken had misled consumers by
enticing them with greasy, salty, and sugary meals. The food giants came out of the law-suit, but
since then, they have become quite conscious so that their meals don't cause any disease.
In 1997, Americans spent more than $54 billion on 14bn gallons of soft drink. The average
teenage boy gulped down 19 oz daily -more than a can and a half, as Pizza Hut regularly supplies
school meals. The consequences of this gluttony are obvious: in the US nearly 12 per cent of
boys and 11 per cent of girls are obese. Americans spend more than $1 10bii on fast food each
year and, on any given day, almost one in four will visit a fast food restaurant.
Junk food, argue its defenders, is nothing like as addictive or as harmful as tobacco. But, as the
British Nutrition Foundation points out, weight, once gained, is notoriously hard to lose. And
childhood weight patterns strongly predict adult ones. In America, the number of overweight
children has doubled since 1980 while obesity figures among adolescents have tripled. And since
1999, American physicians began reporting an alarming rise in children the obesity-linked
type-two diabetes. Once an obese youngster develops diabetes, he or she will never get rid of it.
Now, if this is the consequence of the business of these food giants, what would the spending of a
great deal of money on running orphanages or funding hospitals really mean?
Again, the Pollution Monitoring Lab of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in India,
reportedly, found 12 popular brands of cold drinks in the Delhi market to contain organochlorine
and organophosphorus pesticides, and synthetic pyrethroides. The scientists have also detected
DDT in some of these brands. These deadly elements, CSE scientists said, damage the human
body's central nervous system as well as .immune system and are confirmed carcinogens.
Organophosphorus pesticide is highly dangerous for mothers-to-be and babies as it is a suspected
neuroteratogen that causes malformations in foetuses.
On the other hand, the cold drin-producing companies in every country do spend huge amounts
on social charities, popularly known as CSR in the corporate world. They support community
development, build infrastructures, raise funds for sick and the disabled etc. Here lies the
contradictions. How would the society benefit from a corporation's social responsibility when its
products are adversely affection people's health?
This merits extensive study and analysis. CSR activities of arms producing corporations - like
Smith & Wesson etc. - also call for comprehensive analysis. Located mostly in the West, the
arms-producing corporations contribute immensely to social sector development. Now, these are
very good corporations: they take care of their employees, their families, the local community
and society. But, on the other hand, the products they manufacture are ultimately being used for
killing people. According to Genevabased Small Arms Survey, since 1991, about 10,000 or more
deaths have taken place each year due to illegal small arms.
It is in this backdrop, it is necessary that corporate gurus make a good assessment of these
contrasting ideals, highlighting the relevance of corporate social responsibility. By doing so,
answers to many of these questions and confusions would be found.
said the political parties, which ruled the country during the last 30 years, patronized terrorism
and violence.
Preparing a roadmap for the poorest
Ekram Kabir

At the Davos World Economic Forum in 1999, UN General Secretary Kofi Annan called upon
multinational companies to promote and respect human rights and decent labour and environ-
mental standards within their own spheres of activity, on a voluntary basis and on their own
initiative. Business leaders and CE0s across the world responded positively to Annan's call. Dan
Vaselia, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novartis, was also one of them who welcomed
Annan's call for a "Global Compact" between the UN and the inter- national private sector to
promote human rights, better labour conditions, and environmental protection.
Novartis has thus endorsed the promotion and observance of these basic rights. It has officially
joined the Global Compact, as its (Global Compact) nine principles are integral part of a
business's social responsibility.
While supporting the Global Compact, the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development has
so far been involved mainly in two areas: (a) support for sustainable leprosy. It employs measures
that development in poor countries of the southern hemisphere through concrete development
cooperation; and (b) contribution to development policy discussions, by elaborating and
providing scientific analyses and by organising public events.
The second area of activity shows that Novartis aims to improve people's living conditions not
only through specific development support at the local level, but also by becoming involved in
the development policy discussions at the national and international levels. Its development
cooperation aims to bring about a change in order to improve the conditions of life for poor
people. It means intervention in the existing social conditions and traditions to strengthen those
forces that promote the required improvements. Novartis' projects and programmes are adapted to
local conditions.
Novartis' main priority in the healthcare sector is to support developing countries in combating
leprosy. It employs measures that complement efforts made by developing countries and the
international community in tackling the disease. Its work includes: destigrmatising leprosy
through innovative social marketing strategies; establishing appropriate services for early
diagnosis and cure, as well as the physical, psychological and social rehabilitation of people
suffering from leprosy; dissemination of basic experience and problem- solving approaches
associated with improving access to multiple drug therapy; and strengthening the organisational
and management abilities of health-care staff as well as diagnostic abilities of other healthcare
The Sarvodaya Movement in SirLanka is one of the most successful self-help organisations in the
world. Its concept of rural development links the principles of Buddhism such as, loving kind
ness, compassion, the joy of living through making others happy and equanimity with work at
In the past two years, Terre Des Hommes Switzerland has been working in Tanzania in a pilot
project funded by the Novartis Foundation. The organisation is investigating how psychosocial an
be developed for AIDS orphans Apart from many community development projects in Brazil,
Novartis is trying to change lives of women in Palestine. Since 1998, ID the Gaza Strip, the
Christian Peace Service and the Novartis Foundation have supported a project aimed at
improving living conditions and enhancing the social position of the Palestinian refugee women.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) has been in existence since 1990,
and is one of the leading NG0s in Palestine. The organisation specialises in providing
information, publicity, and project work in the field of mental health. It focuses on the effect, on
the population's mental health of oppression and various forms of violence in every area of
In many developing countries, the social system is characterised by a stratification based not only
on gender, but also on class. Rural Bangladesh presents an especially pronounced social
hierarchy, the economic and political power, is rooted primarily in the ownership of land.
Novartis found that the uppermost class, possessing five acres or more of land, accounts for only
about 8.00 per cent of all rural households in the country, yet it controls almost 48 per cent of all
the cultivable land.
This depiction of the NGO landscape is problem-oriented and thus admittedly one-sided.
Nevertheless it does reflect the nation's experience, especially with organisations that have
recently discovered the "gender angle". While examining a professionally prepared application
for funding a project for the advancement of rural women in Bangladesh, for example, on site
Novartis found constellations of interests and power structures that made it appear more than
questionable whether its assistance would end up benefiting the target groups.
When it analysed the socio-economic background of the in the project area, it turned out that
many of the women did not belong to "the poor" in whose name funds were being solicited.
Needs assessment revealed that the material and non-material project components to be financed
had little relation to the obvious needs of the poor. The budget presented, although in conformity
with ministry-level requirements for approval, was inadequate for a realistic implementation of
the activities purportedly envisaged.
The real frustration comes when it is found that despite all the lessons learned there has been little
progress in changing the conditions of the impoverished women. Also dissatisfying in the system
of development cooperation is the widespread practice of giving the responsibility of monitoring
and evaluating efficiency, effectiveness, and relevance of projects to the implementing agency
alone, with the funds. A donor organization that deviates from this practice has to experipnee'
substantial resistance.
In the liglit of this experience, Novartis has set up an organisation together with capable women
in Bangladesh to create an organisational framework to reach the poorest of the poor.
Improving the quality of human life
Ekram Kabir

GlaxoSmitkKline (GSK) is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies. Its global quest
is to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.
GSK's strategic intent is to become the indisputable leader in the industry - not simply in terms of
size, but also how it uses that size to achieve its mission. Through its Global Community
Partnerships function and Corporate Donations Committee, GSK partners with and supports
organisations whose goals and objectives reflect its mission of improving the quality of human
The programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis is an initiative with a bold objective: to eliminate
filariasis as a public health problem by the year 2020. With more than one billion people at risk in
about 80 countries, lymphatic filariasis is one of the leading causes of disability in the world.
It is estimated that more than 36 million adults and children are living with HIV/AIDS with
approximately 15,000 more people being infected each day. Globally, more than 21 million
people have died from AIDS, resulting in 13.2 million orphaned children. GSK has a history of
contributing to the fight against HIV/AIDS through the research and development of medicines to
treat the disease. Yet it recognises that additional initiatives are needed to intensify and accelerate
the response to MV/ AIDS.
Positive Action is GSK's international programme of HIV education, care and community
support. Through the programme, GSK works in partnership with individuals, community groups,
healthcare providers, governments, international agencies and others, in order to pursue the
common goals of more effective HIV prevention, education, enhanced care and support for
people living with, or affected by HIV/AIDS. Since its inception in 1992, Positive Action has
supported and implemented a wide variety of projects at both national and international levels.
Around 40 per cent of the world's population are at risk from malaria and every year up to 3.00
million people, the majority of them children under five years, die as a result of the disease. The
African Malaria Partnership (ANT) is GSK's malaria community partnership programme. Its aim
is to develop effective malaria control behaviours in African communities. Africa has been chosen
as the focus for the programme because the greatest disease burden and the vast majority of
malaria deaths occur on the continent. US$1.5 million in grants will be shared between three
programmes over three years. The aim is to bridge the gap between successful pilot programmes
and wider-scale implementation, rather than to encourage further, new, pilot programmes.
In North America, Global Community Partnerships focuses on improving access to better
healthcare. Key characteristics that GSK looks for in proactively researching and identifying
programmes are: need, sustainability, leverage, measurable outcomes, partnership and innovation.
Fulfillment of these criteria ensure that GSK's progranunes have the best chance of success for
those who stand to benefit from the results. Because of the emphasis placed on process-driven
management, they also ensure that, if appropriate, successful programmes can be reproduced in
other similar communities.
Internationally, Global Community Partnerships focuses on providing partnership funding for
health education and mobilisation. Key characteristics that GSK looks for in proactively
researching and identifying programmes are: need, sustainability, leverage, measurable outcomes,
partnership and innovation. Fulfillment of these criteria ensures that GSK's programmes have the
best chance of success for those who stand to benefit from the results. Because of the emphasis
placed on process-driven management, they also ensure that, if appropriate, successful
programmes can be .reproduced in other similar Communities.
GSK's PHASE initiative (Personal Hygiene And Sanitation Education) operates in Kenya,
Uganda, Nicaragua and Peru. PHASE provides hygiene and sanitation education for school
children with the aim of reducing diarrhoea-related diseases and deaths associated with poor
GSK funds two health-improvement programmes for indigenous population communities in
Australia, one on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits, the other in Gurring Yealamucka,
Yarrabah, near Claims.
The company has provided funds for a new HIV/AIDS clinic in the Masoyi tribal area of
Mpumalanga, South Africa. The clinic is part of a three-year, £300,000 GSK programme to
provide a quality continuum of care to all those in the region who are infected and affected by
March 2001 saw the first graduates of GSK's Rural Nursing Excellence programme, which
sponsors female high school graduates from rural areas to complete nursing degrees. GSK has
donated £500,000 over five years to train 200 nurses. The programme is run in partnership with
the nursing colleges associated with the Somedt Yaa Foundation, the Department of Public
Welfare and its International Support Group. The Director of nursing at the Ministry of Public
Health acts as an advisor to the programme, which is supported locally by GSK in Bangkok.
After completion of their education, the nurses take their skills back to their communities for at
least three to four years!
The Concern for Children Trust is a charity established to promote the health and well-being of
children in Pakistan, with specific focus on preventive and primary healthcare and education.
GSK has provided funding for healthcare screening and education for children in extremely
low-income areas of Karachi. The programme works to educate children and, through them, the
rest of the community.
The Health Education for Mothers on Major Childhood Killers programme completed its third
and final year of funding, GSK has funded a nine-country initiative aimed at providing mothers in
developing countries with the basic information needed to recognize the dangers signs of major
childhood killers and to respond in a timely and appropriate manner.
In Bangladesh, GSK is continuing its support to a hospital ward and play corner for the leukaemia
sufferer children in Chittagong Medical College Hospital managed by Children Leukaemia
Assistance & Support Services (CLASS). For the third year in a row, GSK has organised
Hepatitis B Action Week 2002 in October to create awareness among common people about a
deadly virus-Hepatitis B. In 2002, GSK targeted commuters of intercity bus, train etc., and also
visitors of superstores in all major cities of the country.
In June 2002, a special vaccine awareness campaign in press and television titled Vaccination was
launched to raise awareness about vaccine preventable diseases. Dr. Geore Komba-Kono,
Mission Chief and acting World Health Organisation Representative in Bangladesh attended the
inaugural ceremony of the campaign as Chief Guest.
Also in Bangladesh, GSK is continuing its vaccine awareness programmes in association with
different social welfare organisations like Sandhani, Rotary, Lions and Badhon in different places
like government, semi-government, autonomous and private organisations.
To improve the health education of the common people of the region, the civil surgeon of
Jaipurhat organised a Health Fair. GSK's presence was very visible in the fair in the campus of
Jaipurhat Sadar Hospital from December 12 to 19, 2002. People learnt a lot from its stall about
the vaccine preventable diseases.
Improving people's lives
By Ekram Kabir

Corporate responsibility, as Unocal says, is fundamental to its core values. "The company's vision
is to improve the lives of people wherever we work by promoting economic self-sufficiency,
encouraging responsible and efficient use of resources, implementing fair employment standards
and working conditions, seeking to advance human rights principles and improving the quality of
life," says Charles R. Williamson, the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Unocal.
As a global company, Unocal's guiding principles affirm the company's commitment to
responsible business practices in every community in which it works. They are integral to its
Code of Conduct and compliance programmes. Implementation of these principles is key to
corporate responsibility at Unocal. Its principles involve all aspects of its business, including how
it relates to its employees and their families, to the people who live near its operations, and to the
countries whey its operates and works.
Unocal wants to conduct its business openly, with honesty, integrity and trust. It respects human
rights in all its activities. Among it community initiatives, its encourages advancements in civil
society wherever it conducts business. The company is quite sensitive to the culture, context and
needs of local communities and strives to make the community a better place to live and conduct
business. It also supports humanitarian initiatives that promote health, education and
economic-well-being in communities where it works.
Environmental considerations are other aspects of Unocal's corporate responsibility, as it wants to
develop) natural resources and provide energy in an efficient and environmentally responsible
manner. It is also committed to ethical business practices, a safe workplace, compliance with the
law and improving the communities in which it works.
Unocal's energy development operations have human rights implications. It generates economic
growth that gives political confidence and influence to the middle class people. The company
hires, trains and provides advancement opportunities for the citizens of its host countries. It
introduces modern values and concepts, such as equal employment opportunity regardless of
gender, race, ethnic background or religious preference. And, in keeping with its commitment to
improving people's lives, it supports a wide variety of humanitarian and philanthropic initiatives.
Williamson says: "Unocal has actively supported community improvement projects in
Bangladesh for several years. The company has invested more than 1.00 million US dollars in its
community development projects in the country. A significant portion of Unocal's community
relations projects are focused in the Greater Sythet Region with special attention to education,
health care and social welfare programmes."
In several Sylheti villages near Unocal's operations, the company has sponsored renovations and
repairs and has donated furniture, books, computer equipment and sport gears to many schools.
Among the schools that have received assistance from Unocal are the Barasala, Baluchar, Kosba,
Chokoria, Magurcharra Khaisa Ptingi and Radhapur primary schools. The company has also
provided support to Syed Hatim Ali High School in Sylhet, Victoria High School in Sriniangal
and Jonab Ati College in Baniachung.
Near the Jalalabad Gas Plant, the company has added a primary school to Syed Hatim Ali High
School and provided furniture for the classrooms. The school is now the second largest in Sylhet
with an enrolment of 2,000 students. Unocal also supports various educational programmes,
including seminars and debate competitions at a number of colleges in the region.
The company authority says that it places a high priority on sponsoring organisations and
programmes that provide healthcare services to communities. To vaccinate children against polio
and other health problems, the company has provided two motorboats and a four-wheel drive
truck to the Immunisation and Other Child Health (IOCH) organisation to reach remote
communities in the Sylhet area and elsewhere in Bangladesh.
The company is funding a targeted epidemic control project under the International Centre for
Diarrhoeal Disease Research. Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) in the Sylhet area and other parts of the
country. The project monitors and controls outbreaks of epidemics in these areas, maintains a
surveillance system for cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases and assists the Ministry of Health in
controlling morbidity and mortality due to diarrhea.
In Kulaura, Unocal has assisted the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in refur-
bishing its rehabilitation centre in order to treat more patients with spinal injuries and other
disabling diseases.
In Srimangal, Unocal supports St. Joseph Church, one of the region's oldest churches. The church
operates a hospital two dormitories and 32 primary schools that serve tribal workers in the tea
garden area. The oil company has donated funds and medicines to the church and its hospital. It
has also helped to fund an eye camp in the Srimangal area where surgeons perform eye ex-
aminations and surgeries and provide eyeglasses for the 1ocal population. Furthermore, the
company has donated medical equipment and medicines to health clinics in Haripur.
Unocal supports various organisations that provide social welfare programmes for the benefit of
communities. Over the years, it has funded various projects at several mosque and other religious
institutions throughout the Sylhet division. For example, in the Alutol village located near the
Jalalabad Gas Plant, the company sponsored projects to supply electricity to two mosques. In
Sylhet, Unocal assisted with construction projects at the Choukidheki temple and at a madrassa.
The company provided funding to refurbish four mosques and two temples in Baniaehung. Near
the Jaialabad Gas Plant, the company underwrote renovations and repairs for a mosque used by
workers at the Lakatoorah Tea Garden.
In the Sylhet area, Unocal sponsored construction of homes for destitute families under Mother
Teressa's Missionaries of Charity organisation. Its employees also helped to distribute blankets,
mosquito nets and clothing to homeless people in Sylhet.
To support local cultural activities, Unocal has contributed to the Habiganj Music and Arts
Academy. The company has also sponsored a youth cricket coaching camp in Sylhet that was
organized with assistance from the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
Last year, Unocal entered into long-term alliances leading humanitarian organisation that are
dedicated to the principles articulated in Unocal’s vision “to improve the lives of people wherever
we work." These organizations, active in any of' the same regions as Unocal, include Habitat for.
Humanity Nature Conservancy, the International Youth Fund, and the International List, tutu for
the Rights of the Child. Through these and other alliance, Unocal expects to improve the
effectiveness of its corporate responsibility activities and help empower local communities in
countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Catering for unmet needs
Ekram Kabir

Fuji Photo Film USA, Inc. has been a corporate citizen of the US since 1965. During that time, as
Fuji has grown and prospered as a corporation, it has tried to pay back to its communities through
socially-responsible business practices and an ongoing commitment to organisations,
programmes, and activities that enhance the quality of life for everyone.
At the national level in America, Fuji supports partners and programmes that focus on preserving
the environment. At the local level, in the communities where Fuji works, the scope of its support
broadened to address the diverse needs of the communities.
To maintain its social commitments, Fujifilm supports activities in several areas like environment,
arts and culture, and education.
Fuji is committed to protecting and preserving nature's beauty and environmental resources so
they may be passed on to future generations. To maintain Fuji's commitment to the environment,
it follows the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle motto. As a result, it has: a. reduced the amount of
silver used in color negative film by more than half, and in color print paper by about two-thirds;
b. instituted a full-recycling program for QuickSnap cameras whereby the camera body is reused
or recycled; and c. developed a digital minilab - the Frontier - which reduces chemical waste by
30 per cent more than competitive technologies.
In addition to these efforts, Fujifilm supports environmental initiatives that encourage both
children and adults to value the natural world and inspire them to preserve it.
Fujifilm partnered with the National Wildlife Federation to sponsor "One Wild Week" at
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. The event dramatised the need to protect and preserve animal
diversity. To commemorate Earth Day 2000 and the 75th anniversary of the Bronx River Parkway
Reservation, Westchester's first public park, Fujifilm donated and planted 41 cherry trees at the
Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, NY. Fuji Hunt Rolling Meadows, IL was one of five chemical
companies to receive the US Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental
Performance Track Achievement Award.
Fujifilm believes in the power of art to delight and inform. As a result, it supports many cultural
activities and programmes. It hopes its contributions inspire all people - young and old - to new
levels of creative expression and communication.
The company serves as a key sponsor of the annual free New York Philharmonic outdoor concert
performed in Westchester County. This event draws an estimated audience of 30,000 people each
year from all over the New York City metropolitan area. It sponsors "Jammin' with Jimmy," an
annual fund-raising event to support Youth Theatre Interactions, an after-school performing arts
programme that provides artistic opportunities for youngsters in a drug- and crime-free
environment. It has also sponsored many sports events across Bangladesh.
Fujifilm is an advocate of educational opportunities for students at all grade levels. Fujifilm offers
scholarship funds, supports reading readiness programmes, and aligns with educational
organisations that use its products as tools for exposing students to new methods of
communication and expression.
Ten thousand posters featuring Jake, Lloyd of Star Wars fame were underwritten by Fujifilm and
distributed to schools and libraries across America as part of the Association of American
Publishers "Get Caught Reading" campaign to heighten interest in reading.
Coordinated by the Los Angeles County Museum and the Fujifilm Technical Centre,
"Discovering Photography" offered students a guided tour of the Technical Centre in an effort to
increase understanding of digital and photographic imaging.
In its local communities, Fujifilm provides ongoing support to health and human services that
enhance the quality of life for people of all ages. It contributes to programmes that assist the
elderly, fight hunger and poverty, and address the unmet health needs of children.
To meet unmet needs of children in the New York area, Fujifilm has made a five-year, $500,000
commitment to help fund the Maria Ferera Children's Hospital and New Trauma Centre of the
Westchester Medical Centre. This state-of-the-art facility is expected to care for all children,
regardless of their economic status.
Across America, there are thousands of Fujifilm people helping to make a difference where they
live and work. Volunteering time, money, and products, these employees seek to better their
In the corporate hot water?
Ekram Kabir

The Christian Aid report in January on corporate social responsibility, Behind the Mask of
Corporate Responsibility, seems to have opened up a stream of criticisms against big corporations
on their corporate conducts and business ethics. It has also led the media in Southern hemisphere
to cover CSR issues with a greater focus.
Last month, corporate web-sites reported, quoting the Business Respect, a US financial weekly,
on the basis of findings by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) that
companies such as IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are purchasing components from firms,
subjecting employees to 'atrocious conditions'.
The report covers places in Mexico, China and Thailand, and says that CAFOD has discovered a
range of breaches, including unsafe working conditions, compulsory overtime, illegally low pay
and deprivation of basic entitlements.
The Agency said that the companies named all had codes of conduct for labour standards that fell
below UN standards. IBM, for instance, was highlighted as failing to include provisions covering
the use of forced or child labour. However, IBM said in a statement: "We are taking steps to
reinforce this with the suppliers, including updating our supplier agreement to include new
language that specifically prohibits them from discriminating against employees and applicants
for employment because of race, colour, religion, sex, age, national origin or any other legally
protected status".
Meanwhile, IBM Korea officials have been charged with corruption. Forty-eight government and
IBM officials in Korea have been indicted in the investigation of corruption in the bidding on
government contracts. IBM's South Korean affiliate, IBM Korea, had won $55ni in contracts
from government allegedly through bribery. The company has admitted that the actions took
place, and expressed regret over the incident.
On the other hand, Hewlett Packard has won a discrimination lawsuit in San Francisco, US,
where an employee that had been sacked for not supporting policies on diversity had claimed
religious discrimination. Richard Peterson, a long-time HP employee, had reacted against posters
promoting the company's commitment to diversity that featured an employee who was gay. He
responded by posting a public notice, drawn from Isaiah in the Bible, declaring homosexuality as
a sin.
HP had taken the posters down, but said that it had never required the litigant to change his
religious beliefs - only to show due respect and tolerance to co-workers. Peterson would not
relent, so the company fired him. The claim that the firing represented discrimination on the
grounds of religion was rejected by' the court, saying that an employer does not need to
accommodate beliefs that would lead to discrimination against others.
Similarly, former IBM employees have begun legal action against the company claiming that they
contracted cancer from exposure to dangerous chemicals through their work making microchips
and other electronic parts. The action, filed in California, is the first by former employees of
electronics companies - but could potentially open the floodgates for hundreds of similar claims if
it turns out to be successful.
The focus of the case is on the protection for workers in 'clean rooms' - a dust-free environment
that the plaintiffs argue is designed to protect the electronic components but not the workers, who
they allege, are exposed to a range of poisonous chemicals. IBM authorities are disputing the suit,
saying that it is not true that workers in such environments contract cancer more than others
because of their working conditions.
Examples of these two electronics giants point out some of the aspects - like rights issues and
environmental issues - that are also being seriously considered as important ingredients of CSR
activities. And the awareness on these issues are being increasingly felt in the corporate corridors
across the world.
This is precisely the reason why the CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina had told the recent
annual conference of the UK's Confederation of British Industry that company directors have to
lead by example in the wake of the collapse of Enron. Referring to the spate of business scandals
that began with Enron, she said: "It is greed pure and simple."
A year of soul-searching
Ekram Kabir

More companies across the world prepared and produced social and environmental reports in
2003 than in 2002. The year 2003 was also a year when new tools and standards appeared with
the United Nations Norms on corporate social responsibility (CSR). 2003 has been quite an
eventful year for those involved in, what some corporate gurus say, the movement for CSR.
The year was full of scandals and setbacks, controversies and debates. At the start of 2003, the
Nike vs. Kasky case got into full swing when the US Supreme Court agreed to review the
California Court's decision. The shoe and apparel giant was appealing that it can be sued for false
advertising over a publicity campaign it used to defend itself against accusations that its footwear
was made in Asian sweatshops.
Many companies watched that a range of organisations that championed the principles behind
open disclosure weighed in to lobby for the case to be defeated.
In Ethiopia, Nestlé settled its claim against the government, agreeing to take only $1.5m instead
of the $6.Om it had initially demanded, and then immediately donating the sum to famine relief
in that country. The company had received a lot of negative publicity for its action, although it
stuck to its principle that a government should not be sent the signal that it can simply move in
and nationalise a company's operations with no compensation whatsoever. It had a strong point -
but lost the public sympathy nonetheless. The British Medical Journal added fillip to its already
declining image by alleging violations of codes of practice on baby milk substitutes.
In the UK, "Business in the Community" launched the results of the first CSR Index, ranking 122
participant companies based on their management of CSR activities. The index made quite an
impact, with a number of high-scoring companies celebrating their good performance with
references to their website and to their subsequent reports. On the other side, some low-scoring
companies were compelled to respond -either to improve, or to attack the index methodology.
In America, the momentum against companies associated with the growing problem of obesity
increased, with a second lawsuit against McDonald's. Some of the overweight citizens of New
York decided the company's advertising had mislead them into believing its burgers were
healthier than they really were. The case was dismissed -but the concept of CSR for obesity had
been planted in the mind of the Americans.
Having held out for some time, companies joined a growing retreat from some of the most
dubious countries for human rights violations. First of all, Saks Inc announced a policy against
sourcing products for its ten major retail chains from Myanmar. Travel group Kuoni announced
that it would remove Myanmar from its 2004 travel brochure. JJB Sports said it would withdraw
stock manufactured in Myanmar. Eventually the highest profile hold-out of them all, British
American Tobacco said that it too would pull out that country.
There have been new additions to the number of companies which stepped up their activities to
address the challenge of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Companies such as Gold Fields, Anglo American
etc., are among them. The pharmaceutical companies made further concessions as well.
GlaxoSmithKline, for instance, reduced the price of Combivir, an HIV drug, by nearly 50 per cent
to 90 cents per day.
The year 2003 was the first year that the Business Ethics Awards saw a host of small companies
honoured, and the inauguration of the Asian Forum on CSR Awards. Construction firm Carillion
became Business in the Community's Company of the Year, and Westpac topped the bill at just
about everything it took part in.
Pragmatic approach for the poor
Ekram Kabir

"If philanthropy and financial reality could be merged in order to achieve long-term development
and improve the country's economy, that would have been the perfect example of corporate social
responsibility (CSR) in Bangladesh," says Engr Md Lutful Kabir, the Executive Director of
Business Advisory Services Centre (BASC), while talking to The: Financial Express at his
Dhanmondi office.
CSR is a comparatively new idea in Bangladesh. There are a couple of companies that have lately
engaged themselves in various kinds of social activities, but, says Kabir, such companies are
performing like isolated islands.
"If the social activities of, let us say, Bata Bangladesh or British America Tobacco can be given
an integrated form and if the amount of money thereof could be used to develop some other small
and medium enterprises (SMEs), then it would have been more benefiting for the country", the
BASC chief says.
Indeed, the SMEs are essential to the 'path out of poverty' for countries like Bangladesh. If
support for SME development can be implemented here, this could be an important part of the
CSR commitment of big companies. Improvements in social and environmental impact can go
hand in hand with improvements in quality and management.
"CSR is clearly affecting SMSs in Bangladesh through direct supply-chain relationships as well
as the development of legislation, and international standardisation and certification," says Kabir,
adding "but, in some cases, CSR policy has also backfired."
In this connection, he cited the sample of the then proposed US Senator Harkin's Bill in 1993 that
threatened an import ban on clothes produced by child labourers in the country. Under pressure
from the US buyers, factory owners in Bangladesh rapidly eliminated child workers. Without
having alternative arrangements, many children ended up moving into less favourable and more
dangerous jobs such as prostitution, brick-breaking etc.
Therefore, Kabir considers if CSR demands are protectionist, culturally inappropriate or
unreasonably bureaucratic, their net effect will be undermining of livelihoods in the poorer
countries. On the other hand, the SME sector must not be allowed to be a loophole in which
polluting, exploitative industries flourish. It is crucial to understand the basis for viable,
appropriate 'small business responsibility'.
"The lessons and approaches of CSR cannot be simply transferred to SAMS," he says. Many of
the concerns underlying the calls for CSR do not apply to SAMS, which lack in the power to
influence governments, dictate standards, or move across national boundaries in search of lighter
In the developed countries, the past two decades have seen a radical change in the relationship
between the business and the society. The key drivers of this change have been the globalisation
of trade, Kabir notes while pointing out the increased size and influence of companies, the
repositioning of government and the rise in strategic importance of stakeholder relationships,
knowledge and brand reputation. The relationship between companies and civil society
organisations has moved on from paternalistic philanthropy to a re-examination of the roles,
fights and responsibilities of businesses in society. CSR, defined in terms of the responsiveness of
businesses to stakeholders' legal, ethical, social and environmental expectations, is one outcome
of such developments, he adds.
CSR has generally been a response to consumer and civil society pressures. These have mainly
been focused on transnational corporations (TNCS) serving the western markets but often
operating in the southern countries. Accusations by governments and civil society alike, of
environmental pollution, human rights abuses, and exploitation of labour in supply-chains, have
put pressures on the companies into becoming more environmentally and socially responsible.
However, companies have quickly recognised the strategic value of being more responsible and
are beginning to align products and business relationships, in particular through their supply-
chains, accordingly.
"One has to remember that CSRs are not a replacement for the rightful role of democratic
governments to set regulatory frameworks for the benefit of society", Kabir observed.
Therefore, there has to be a good mechanism for monitoring and certification the CSR activities
in Bangladesh, he points out.
In the buyer-driven value chains, company level codes of conduct, backed up by individual
monitoring systems, have become predominant, reflecting the power of major brand-name labels
to influence their suppliers. A single supplier may produce a number of different labels. This has
caused problems of multiple codes of conduct and monitoring systems burdening suppliers. Thus,
partnerships such as the ethical trading initiative and the fair labour association as well as the
supplier product certification scheme SA8000 have been developed to ensure that the codes of
conduct are effective and manageable.
"And with this, comes the question of ethical business promotion," Kabir adds. The supply-chains
of big and small companies are becoming complex. The effects of businesses on the poor are
getting magnified. The poor are part of business supply-chains, they are the people affected by the
factory sites and they are the customers also. Ethical business promotion consists of services that
will aim to promote, encourage and monitor social and ethical aspects of business. Ethical trade
also ensures that goods are produced under conditions that are socially and environmentally
"In Bangladesh, there is no such organisation responsible for monitoring ethical trade issues. If a
mechanism can be devised to create awareness of ethical business issues and encourage and
monitor socially responsible behaviour of businesses, Bangladesh would, go a long way in
creating a sound society in this country", Kabir observes concluding his interview with FE.
Putting the labour force first
Ekram Kabir

There was a time when businessmen in Bangladesh, who formed the elite of the society, used to
donate land and money for building mosques, schools and colleges, as part of their social
responsibility. This way, as usually happens in elitist societies, the businessmen could maintain
their influence on the society. At that time, there was hardly any corporate house that individually
mattered in the country's economy; the farmers were the main producers at that time.
With the change in global business environment over the past decades., big corporations are now
steering the economies in almost every country. Along with them came the corporate social
responsibility, popularly known as CSR all over the world. Corporate houses in the developed
countries have engaged themselves in the CSR activities in a massive manner. Bangladesh, also,
would not remain outside this fold for too long. It would have to fall in the pattern of global
One of the most frequently asked questions in today's business is: what does the CSR mean
anyway? Is it only ploughing some of the money back to the stakeholders or consumers, from
whom the corporations earn their profit'? However, different organisations have come up with
different definitions - although there is considerable common ground among them. One of the
most common definitions is that the CSR is about how companies manage their business
processes to produce an overall positive impact on the society.
According to an article, making Good Business Sense, written by Lord Holme and Richard Watts,
and published in a World Business Council. Publication, the Corporate Social Responsibility is
the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic
development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of
the local community and society at large.
The same article gives some evidences of the different perceptions of what this should mean from
a number of different societies across the world. In Ghana, the definition of CSR is about
capacity-building for sustainable livelihood. And in lie Philippines, it is about businesses'
contribution to society.
In the US, the home of the world's most renowned corporate houses, the CSR has been defined in
terms of a philanthropic model. The American companies make profits, unhindered except by
fulfilling their duty to pay taxes. Then they donate a certain share of the profits to charitable
In Europe, it is much more focused on operating the core business in a socially responsible way,
complemented by investment in communities for solid business case reasons. Business analysts
believe that the European style is more sustainable because social responsibility becomes an
integral part of the wealth-creation process which, if managed properly, should enhance the
competitiveness of business and maximise the value of wealth-creation to society.
In this way, in different countries, there would be different priorities, and values that will shape
businesses to act. One thing that would remain common to every country relates to the pressure
on businesses to play a role in social issues - and that will continue to grow. Over the last 10
years, those institutions, which have grown in power and influence, have been those which could
operate effectively within a global sphere of operations. These are the corporates and the NG0s.
And businesses these days, ranging from oil producers to utilities to supermarkets, are putting in
place thee environmental standards, trumpeting their employment policies and publicising
community initiatives.
Many compnies across the world are stepping into the areas where many governments are failing.
The Coca Cola, for instance, has a programme for condom distribution in Southern Africa.
Various mining companies have instituted comprehensive healthcare programmes, providing not
only education and prophylactics but also treatments, even for people with Aids, where
medication is relatively expensive. Many pharmaceutical companies have offered to supply their
medicines at low or no cost to the developing countries.
Now, it is true that companies are doing these things for a number of reasons. In part it is basic
self-interest; ill workers are not very productive. In part it is basic self-interest; improving the
health of the poor makes for good public relations. But for whatever reasons they are doing it,
they are doing it with little or no prodding from governments. In may cases, they are even doing
it in spite of all the restrictions imposed by government.
In India, which has over 20,000 pharmaceutical companies churning out medicines, 70 per cent of
the population do not have access to medicines. An Fr article says that the Coca-Cola announced
plans to spend as much as 5.00 million US dollars a year on HIV/ Aids treatment of its African
hottlers’ employees. Still, Coke is facing global protests for not doing enough to combat the
pandemic in Africa.
The HIV/Aids is not the only issue in which the companies are engaging themselves. There are
many other areas of social responsibility of the corporations. Companies are fast realising that
they are at the receiving end of a sharp increase in social expectations about the role of
corporations in society. And this is no longer just about philanthropy or even ethics. Rather, it
concerns the fact that companies increasingly are held accountable not only to shareholders but
also to employees and suppliers and to society at large. And the last of these has seen the most
radical shift.
In Bangladesh, the CSR still revolves around philanthropy. A company is being considered to be
'socially responsible' only when it is being referred to, for its philanthropic endeavours,
environmental practices, workplace policies, or diversity initiatives. In Bangladesh many
companies have made significant strides in raising the standard of business -BAT, Citibank, Lever
Brothers and the like - to name a few.
Despite, some good initiatives in Bangladesh, a major portion of corporate houses are yet realise
what 'social responsibility' means for them. The companies in Bangladesh may not be able to
afford what people like Bill Gates do. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' B ill and Melinda Gates
Foundation gave the Indian government a generous 120 million dollars for Aids prevention. This
is almost equal to what the US government has pledged to provide India to fight the disease.
It is not expected that Gates' generosity would inspire Bangladeshi businessmen to rise to their
social responsibility. But they can, at least, take their cue from Gates. If entrepreneurs show even
a fraction of the passion they display in building mosques for combating problems of health,
education and poverty, they will have earned the nation's gratitude.
Take the case for female garments workers in Bangladesh. Reportedly (FE on December 10, 2002
the owners of some garment factories in the country are denying the natural rights of their women
labourforce. They are doing this either by imposing insane sible preconditions or through hidden
tactics. These workers are no allowed to have babies. The garments owners think that being
mothers would hamper their productivity. Many garment factories the precondition for having a
job is to refrain from having babies and they have to accept it for lack of alternative job
opportunities. On the other hand, owners and officials or garment factories say that they get
benefits by discouraging pregnancy.
There are more than 1.5 million workers in the country’s garment sector and 85 percent of them
are women who overwork in factories, making precious sacrifices and, thus, helping the country
earn foreign currency. But if the reward for helping the factory owners to make money comes in
the form of denying the women of their natural rights, then this process of profit making is
certainly quite unfriendly to the society at large.
Every sector in Bangladesh would give almost the similar picture. The Bangladeshi economic
elite must acknowledge that no country can aspire to be economically prosperous if its population
continues to live a life threatened by disease, illiteracy and debilitating penury. There is no tight
definition of CSR; there are many ways of describing it. Understanding what it means for
Bangladesh needs to carry out some basics like taking good care of the labour force.
Matching the principles with practices
By Ekram Kabir

The days for businesses to have only one goal - to make money for their owners - are over. Today,
business is under pressure, from both stakeholders and the people at large, to adopt responsible
business practices. The demand is for corporate social responsibility, and now it has become a
global phenomenon.
The "Clean Clothes Campaign" during the 1990s in some European countries urged consumers to
boycott stores which sold garments made by firms using child labour, for example. At that time,
there were some non- governmental groups in the US who also campaigned against buying
products of those brands that were using children as their labour force.
The repercussions of such campaigns were felt in poorer economics like Bangladesh, India,
Pakistan etc. Governments and garments manufacturers of these countries had to go through a
great ordeal that child labour was a reality in economies where poverty exists in its severest form.
However, campaigns against the use of child labour in factories have changed the social picture in
these countries. The owners of their governments' factories had to arrange schooling for the kids
they were using in their units.
The reality these days is that businesses around the world can no longer disregard their social and
environmental responsibilities, for they are under growing pressures to help build a fairer society.
The process of globalisation has also contributed to it. Only claims that globalisation would
spread the benefits of economic growth have not been enough; economic operators these-days
must also demonstrate that they are also socially responsible. Businesses, therefore, are trying
work together to respond effectively to these new demands of social responsibility.
In this respect, the Europeans have gone quite a long way: corporate social responsibility is now
firmly on the political and social agenda of the European Union (EU) countries. The British
government has a minister to hold the portfolio of corporate social responsibility. The European
Commission, the EU's executive arm, published a Green Paper on corporate social responsibility,
with the aim of launching a broad-based consultation on legal and voluntary frameworks the EU
needs in order to promote corporate' social responsibility.
Moreover, they have already recognised the potential benefits of a partnership among
government, businesses and civil society to address social and environmental issues. Consumer
behaviour - the decision about which product to buy - is no longer influenced by price alone.
According to a recent survey, 70 per cent of the European consumers say that a company's
commitment to social responsibility is important when buying a product or service.
As Bangladesh faces the challenge of globalisation, it is imperative to take the concerns of all
stakeholders into account. Corporate social responsibility provides an opportunity for delivering
value to all. However, there is no single, transferable model of corporate social responsibility.
While the pressures mounted by globalisation are similar across the world, responses must be
Look at the fastfood joints that are popping up in all the major cities in Bangladesh. They have
certainly made food accessible to almost everybody. The best thing that happened, following the
establishments like Wimpy's, Best Fried Chicken, Helvetia etc., that this sector has generated
many employment opportunities for the unemployed. Youths - who are considerably educated but
not qualified for white- and blue-collar jobs -are seen taking up work in such units.
However, the other side of the trend of consuming fastfoods is being ignored. They have changed
the food habits of people, especially the children, to such an extent that these days people are
being compelled to spend more than their capacity. Earlier, the school going children were quite
content with carrying tiffin from home and they were suite gratified with what their mothers used
to bake or cook for them. Nowadays, it has become quite impossible for the parents to make their
wards eat home-made tiffin. The children wouldn't eat anything other than burgers or sandwiches,
say, from Cooper's or Hot Breads or Yanimy-Yammy.
Ask any parent; they would tell you how much pinch they feel on their purse.
Again, fast-foods are also putting negative effects on people's health. According to the nutritional
experts, fastfoods are very rich in both cholesterol and other fats. This can cause cardiac diseases
at a very early age. MacDonalds in the US faced this complaint from American Consumers
Association and had to change their recipe and prepare harmless foods.
Now, MacDonalds care for health of its consumers, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to name
out any fast-food chain in Bangladesh having this sense of responsibility. Who would instill this
sense in them? Who would enforce the social and environmental standards for corporate
behaviour among these businesses in a country like Bangladesh, where government neither does
function well nor has the resources to ensure that businesses perform at the level that is
customary for the US or Europe? Is the company solely responsible for maintaining acceptable
standards? Can the responsibility be shared with an outside body of which the company is a
Someone must check whether a company's principles match its practices. There is a growing
worldwide movement towards corporate responsibility and sustainability, because, in many cases,
many products have brought damage and suffering to the society.
At this point of time when companies and governments turn their attention to sustainability, it is
of critical importance that the meaning of sustainability does not get lost in the trappings of
corporate language.
Comfort and safety while on the wheels
Ekram Kabir

The demands and expectations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) impact differently on
different business sectors. Some sectors entail a lot of initiatives, requiring a high level of
awareness-raising activities on societal issues - from human rights to health and environment.
Other sectors, including the financial services sector, require less physical impact. But
nonetheless they can have a significant influence over the development and well-being of a
country or a community in which they operate.
While CSR is increasingly acknowledged as an important business issue in developed economies
there is still relatively little practical guidance available in Bangladesh to help companies respond
to the challenges it presents.
Look at the logistics and transportation sector. Globally, this sector faces some strong challenges
while carrying out its perceived social responsibilities - particularly in relation to environmental
impact, traffic congestion and energy waste management, safety and security, access to trade and
enterprise opportunities and sustainable infrastructure. Transports have a mass consumer market,
others have business and institutional markets - but all have a public interface which make the
sector vulnerable to negative and hostile public perception.
In Bangladesh, the automobile sector received a huge boost in recent years, because of the rise in
demand for luxury cars and utility vehicles. Interestingly, the number of cars, buses coaches etc.,
has extensively gone up. At the moment, the automobile business seems quite impressive here in
Bangladesh even after imposition of some restrictions. on the import of recondition cars and
reduction of duty on the import of new cars. It has done some good. The car, market operators are
now importing new cars which are believed to be more environmentally-friendly. And this has
given a new dimension to this sector.
In the process, a large number of coach and bus companies -including the cab companies have
entered into the transport sector. They are earning lucrative remuneration from their operations.
However, nothing is clear about their role in societal affairs. One thing has been expressed by
them quite clearly: they have been and are demanding a comprehensive transport policy. The lack
of such a policy, among other things, has put the life of commuters at risk. For example, road
accidents in recent years are on the rise.
The recent initiatives of the government to introduce CNG-driven automobiles have contributed
positively to the society as far as environment is concerned. Meanwhile, the CNG-driven vehicles
have received a wider acceptance among the people.
Being at the heart of public transport system, Bangladeshi transport companies need to be
committed to work with their industry partners - who are mainly the sellers here - to develop a
fully integrated transportation system and to ensure quality and value of transportation and
travelling. They also are expected to maintain close links with passengers and consumer groups.
But, do these (coach) companies that are operating on long routes and in major cities of
Bangladesh consider the "environment" in their business decisions? Do they continually improve
their service and thereby encourage the use of public transport? Do they work proactively to
prevent polluting incidents, reduce toxic emissions in the environment and optimise the energy
efficiency of all transport modes? Do the vehicle importers work in partnership with their
stakeholders and other organisations to implement a more sustainable transport policy and help
create an integrated public transport system?
Again, do they provide the necessary training, support and resources to their staff in order to
ensuring implementation of these policies? Is there any scope for the passengers to express their
grievances about the hardship they face while commuting or travelling? Do passengers feel safe
while travelling by these vehicles?
In the UK, for example, a market leader in car rental, Avis Europe, has come forward to provide
support for integrated transport programmes which aim to reduce traffic congestion and pollution
levels. The 'Car Club' concept, to reduce congestion and car usage is also being implemented by
Avis CARvenience. There are now Car Clubs across the UK. The club members use a pool of
Avis cars for an annual fee, plus time and mileage, thereby reducing car ownership, congestion
and pollution from unnecessary journeys.
This has now become an international phenomenon for the cab, bus, coach companies, in
association with auto-makers and sellers, to play a vital role in developing people-friendly
business practices. They continue to improve their environmental performances by specifying
modern engines and fuel-efficient systems in vehicles, and implementing community friendly
Similarly, Bangladeshi companies, too, should take some of those initiatives that would ensure
road safety, passenger comfort, environmental soundness on the routes they operate.
FedEx's corporate giving and volunteerism
Ekram Kabir

"We will do what we're allowed to do; we expect governments to provide the legal framework
that says what society will put up with" - is usually the attitude of many big business houses
towards the society.
Despite this fact, big businesses these days are incorporating the corporate social responsibility
(CSR) in their social agenda. A fine example of this is FedEx -the largest operating unit of FedEx
Corp. It tries to create what it says, an atmosphere of caring about the communities in which it
operates. They are also dedicated to effective corporate citizenship, leading the way in helping the
communities and promoting the cause of environment.
Through financial support and employee volunteerism, FedEx, 'the global bearer, helps the
United Way. Since 1887, the United Way has mobilised the caring power of communities in the
US. America's national organisation, United Way of America, invests in programmes and services
that help identify and address the needs of local communities. FedEX began its relationship with
the United Way in 1975 with a corporate gift. Today, FedEx supports it in two primary ways:
corporate giving campaigns and volunteerism.
Fundraising takes place in each FedEx company, along special events such as the United Way
telethon broadcast on the in-house FXTV television network. FedEx volunteers also participate in
activities such as the United Way "Day of Caring" programmes.
The company has some involvement in safety measures, making an alliance with the American
SAFE KIDS Campaign. Together, FedEx and SAFE KIDS have created the "Walk This Way"
program, celebrated each October on International Walk To School Day, to teach pedestrian safety
to school children and to establish safer, more walkable communities.
"There is nothing more fearful for a FedEx courier than a child darting out in front of your truck.
So this programme is a perfect fit for us. It's not just a programme. It's about kids," David
Bronczek, the FedEx CEO, has been quoted as saying by the media.
Since its inception in 2000,"SAFE KIDS Walk This Way" has expanded to cover nearly 300
schools in the US, with intemational expansion in Brazil and Asia.
Last year, FedEx announced its support for Nelson Mandela's global AIDS awareness and
fundraising campaign, "Give A Minute Of Your Time For AIDS."
At the heart of the campaign was a concert held in Cape Town in November last which reached
an estimated TV audience of over three billion people in 90 countries. FedEx helped transport
20,000 kilos of equipment needed for the event from London to the Green Point Stadium in Cape
Town, South Africa. The company also returned the equipment to London, providing full logistics
expertise and dedicated flights to support the mission.
Robert W. Elliott, President of FedEx, Europe, Middle East and Africa said that time: "AIDS is a
major global issue that should be of concern to all of us. I know that every one of our employees
and contractors world wide, will be just as proud of our involvement and eager to support this
momentous initiative."
Moreover, FedEx and the Red Cross work together to provide quick response for disasters around
the world. FedEx and Heart to Heart work together to alleviate offering throughout the world. It
has helped this relief and development organisation deliver food, medicine and emergency
supplies to Vietnam, China, India and other areas.
Sight is a precious gift and FedEx helps Orbis International provide eyecare and treatment to
people in developing countries. Orbis, which frequently comes to Bangladesh, uses a converted
air- craft as a "flying eye hospital" in which its international medical team performs eye surgeries
for the needy and shares their skills with physicians from the host country.
FedEx and its subsidiaries recognise that effective environmental management is one of its most
important corporate priorities. It is committed to the continued evaluation of environmental
impacts of its packaging products. Throughout the past 10 years, it has worked to minimise the
environmental impact of its packaging. For example, its envelopes are now made of 100 per cent
recycled material, 35 per cent minimum post-consumer content and is not bleached.
It is also actively involved in efforts to promote cleaner air by reducing emissions through
efficient route planning and the use of clean and alternative fuels. FedEx complies with all
international, federal, state and local air quality requirements. Compared to passenger airlines, it
has a lower utilisation of aircraft. In a 24-hour period, a FedEx aircraft tradition- ally completes
only two take off/landing cycles. Commercial airlines complete numerous cycles during the same
time period. FedEx Express is the only company in its sector to be rated an "A" in the Council on
Priorities corporate responsibility profile for Environment, indicating that FedEx is among the
best Fortune 500 companies tracked by CEP in environmental issues.
Nokia makes a connection
Ekram Kabir

Nokia is possibly one of the most familiar brand names to Bangladeshis. Two in every five
cellphone users in Bangladesh use Nokia. Alongside expanding its business, Nokia also has a set
of activities meeting its obligations to the society.
The Nokia administration believes in investing in a shared future, developing products and
services that encourage communication and learning among people and societies where the
company operates. Nokia is using its strengths, what it says, connecting and communicating, to
help make a difference. It is using the same approach to ensure its involvement with youth and
education issues around the world, helping young people create their own place.
Nokia's "global youth programmes" are a life-skill programme, active in 16 countries, that deliv-
ers digital education materials to schools using mobile technology. Nokia employees individually
make a difference through contributing their time, efforts and expertise to a variety of causes
under the umbrella of the company's global initiative.
Nokia's "Make a Connection" programme, a global initiative of the International Youth
Foundation and Nokia, started in April 2000. Promoting positive youth development, the
programme gives young people an opportunity to "make a connection" with their communities,
their families and peers, and themselves.
It improves young people's educational opportunities, teaches them life skills and helps them
make a positive contribution to their 4ocieties. This is achieved, for example, by providing direct
training, by facilitating mentor-ships, by giving youth volunteering opportunities, or by training
adults (teachers, youth workers).
To date, the programme has already made a tangible difference in the lives of more 1000,000
young people, trained more than 1000 adults in reaching out to young people, and indirectly
benefited more than 1,300,000 young people and adults. Nokia has so far committed more than
$13 million US dollars to the programme.
Nokia, International Youth Foundation, Pearson and UNDP, combining their research and
development resources, have launched Bridgeit, a global programme to deliver digital education
materials to schools using mobile technology. A fast and easy-to-use service, Bridgeit combines
existing mobile products and satellite technologies to deliver digital, multimedia materials to
teachers and students who otherwise would not have access to them.
Teachers would be able to use mobile phones supplied by Nokia to access a library of science
videos provided by Pearson, the world's leading learning company. Once selected, videos are
down loaded via satellite to a Nokia digital video recorder connected to a television right in the
In an initial country-wide pilot beginning in June last year in the Philippines, fifth and sixth grade
teachers in more than 80 classrooms are able to use mobile phones to access a library of more
than 80 full-length science videos. The selected videos are then downloaded via satellite to the
digital video recorder connected to a television in the classroom. Bridgeit has the potential to
improve learning opportunities for more than 13,000 elementary school children.
In Brazil, Nokia prepares young people for a better future, offering a co-ed technical diploma for
almost 500 students that includes more than 700 hours of industry training. The programme also
offers free food, transportation and some medical care.
Nokia makes charitable contributions in many countries around the world, supporting schools and
kindergartens and having donated for example hospital equipment to the Heim Pal Children's
Hospital in Hungary and to the neonatal and paediatric departments of the Prague Motol Hospital.
It has also been supporting a children's help centre in Duesseldorf, Germany for the past four
years and have funded a Capoeira programme for orphans in seven orphanages in Berlin since
In Australia, it has contributed to the Salvation Army and to a charity for disabled children. It has
cooperated with Unicef for many years. It is one of Unicefs largest supporters in their annual
Seasons Greetings Cards campaign. Since 1995, it has contributed more than $500.000 in
Greetings cards.
In the US and Canada, Nokia is a major contributor to the United Way, a charity, by mobilising
the caring power of communities. The United Way addresses the most critical local issues and
mobilises resources, bringing communities together to focus on the most important human needs.
Nokia is also cooperating with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies in several countries. It has, for example, donated one million US dollars for
humanitarian assistance to the victims of the Kosovo crisis through the Finnish Red Cross,
contributed to the Red Cross of Venezuela after the Venezuela floods, and supported the relief and
reconstruction efforts following the earthquake in Gujarat, India.
Recently, it contributed to Red Cross relief efforts after the volcano eruption that affected the
lives of people in the Congo and Rwanda. IR the aftermath of both the European floods and the
oil spill-off the coast of Spain- in 2002, it supplied funds as well. Jukka Santala, one of Nokia's
unit managers, has been. quoted as saying: "The basic idea is to do something good for the
Iran: Heading towards a confrontation
The West has reasons to be angry with the conservatives gaining ground in the
confrontation between and conservatives Iran, writes
Ekram Kabir

A FTER a showdown between reformists and conservatives in the February 20 elections, Iran is
possibly heading towards a political confrontation. Reformist leaders kept saying before the
elections that a political dispute surrounding elections would give rise to "despotism." However,
on February 4, Iran's Ali Ayatollah Khamenei' sought to defuse the dispute, which centred on the
decision of the conservative-dominated Guardian Council - an unelected institution charged with
ensuring that political developments conform to Islamic guidelines - to disqualify roughly 2,400
candidates, most of them reformists, from the election.
The West was hoping for a reformist victory in Iran. Now with the reformists dominating the
Iranian Parliament, the West, especially the US, would find it difficult to implement their foreign
policy in the Middle East. As the West is already showing its teeth as far as Iran is concerned, the
conservatives victory is likely to anger them further.
Iran is an ancient and complex place. To many westerners, Iran represents the enemy. It is time to
lift the veils of ignorance and fear, and try and understand how they became such a hostile force
in the region.
The speaking culture of the ancient Iranians did not develop until the middle of the second
millennium BC. The original settlers were the Elamites in the region, then known as Susiana. By
the fourth millennium, they were using pictographs, most likely learnt from the Sumerians.
This ancient land along with Iraq, once known7 as Mesopotamia, contributed much to the entire
world. Yet in ignorance and fear, they are all too often dismissed as semi-literate barbarians. They
are far from that, as more recent historical events demonstrate.
After a period of great anger and unrest on December 30, 1906. the Shah signed an agreement
granting the Iranians a constitution. Muzaffar ad-Din (1896-1907) was not a great ruler for his
country. He spent money on trips and reneged on many promises of reform. The clerics and
merchants were tired of western interference in their country, particularly that of Russia, When he
backed out of signing the constitutional reforms they had requested, a year earlier, January 1906,
10,000 clerics and merchants took sanctuary, fearing reprisal. They were seeking a limit to royal
power and a more balanced form of constitutional monarchy.
Great Britain, who had enjoyed many economic benefits by allying with Iran, since the 1800s
wanted to keep control of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Baron Julius de Reuter was granted
the right to establish the first bank there and other Britons were granted concessions in tobacco
and shipping. Since the clerics were anti-tobacco, however, the Shah was forced to cancel the
concessions, damaging further his country's financial reserves. In 1896 the Shah was assassinated.
When the First World War broke out, Iran tried remaining neutral and instead ended up getting
strongly armed, caught between Russia, Turkey and Great Britain.
Oil was discovered in 1908 in enough quantities to be commercially viable. Under a joint venture
agreement the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which later became British Petroleum Company,
Shah Reza Pahlevi in 1933, succeeded in renegotiating a fairer concession on the oil production
with Great Britain. Post WWII, attempts to secure a new contract failed, in spite of Great Britain's
heavy reliance on Iranian oil during the war. This lead to the nationalisation of Iranian oil, and the
new company was named NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company).
With this change, the beginnings of Iranian freedom from western influence truly began. This link
goes into fascinating detail about the facts surrounding Iran’s oil production.
Analysts are saying that hardliners could pursue a more aggressive nuclear policy. Pragmatic
conservatives struck a deal with UK, France and Germany last November to open Iran’s nuclear
facilities to inspection, hoping a softer international line could buy some respite on the scrutiny of
domestic issues, such as human rights. But many hardliners were deeply unhappy with the deal,
and western diplomats believe they see the stifling of domestic opposition as an opportunity to
pursue a weapons programme more rapidly.
However, the US, which was suspicious of the deal in the first place, had its concern reinforced
by the discovery only recently of advanced centrifugal equipment for enriching uranium to
weapons grade. Iran had failed to declare the equipment, and has had its involvement in the
international nuclear black market exposed by the downfall of Pakistan’s nuclear “father”, Abdul
Qadeer Khan.
Again, senior officials from Britain, Germany and France went to Vienna recently to negotiate
with the Iranians and with Mohamed EIBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency. The attempt to break the deadlock failed.
There was no breakdown, but there was no breakthrough. Since the talks aimed at securing a
comprehensive freeze of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, further evidence has emerged that
Iran is continuing to cover up elements of its unclear programme despite its claims to have
revealed all to the IAEA.
UN inspectors discovered designs for a centrifuge that can produce bomb fuel twice as fast as the
machine the Iranians are currently assembling. The centrifuge designs were not reported by the
Iranians, and constitute an apparent breach of their commitment to reveal all, although 'the
significance of the finding is being played down by LKEA officials.
The Americans, the Europeans, and officials at the Vienna agency are convinced that the Iranians
have reneged on the deal. "We're on a steep downward trajectory on Iran," Jon Wolfsthal, the US
nuclear analyst and former Clinton administration department of energy official, was quoted as
Although the conservatives are now in the ascendant, they are deeply divided over how to
proceed, with pragmatists favouring a softer "bread and circuses" approach to rule and hardliners
wanting revenge on their reformist enemies. Hojjatolislam Qavami, one of the disqualified MPs
and chairman of the Majlis legal committee, told The Independent Sunday the opponents of
reform could become "Taliban-like and limit all legal freedom". Some reformists actually hope
for a crackdown in the belief that this might rekindle public support for them.
At the end of the day, the hardliners seem to be setting the agenda. But now they will need to
focus on improving the economy as a pivotal element of their strategy to retain power.
Economic reform has been severely hindered by constant bickering between the Majlis and
non-elected conservatives in recent years, and can now be pushed through more quickly.
Once the West begins to grasp the enormity of its incursion into an ancient culture, perhaps it
should see that its enemy is right there at home. It is their greed. Their rapacity, in the western
world that has created the tangled skeins of hate that is found throughout the world. And Iran is
likely to become another scapegoat for western experiment.
Environmental rating for local do-gooders
Ekram Kabir

Corporate social responsibility (C-SR) has no singular definition but the Business for Social
Responsibility White Paper calls it "business decision-making linked to ethical values,
compliance with legal requirements and respect for people and communities."
Some analysts describe it as doing business with empathy" and in the business perspective it is
how a company operates in a way that joins, or sometimes exceeds the moral, lawful, commercial
and public expectations that the society has of business.
In the past, it was enough for a company to make a decent product and market it. These days
corporations are reaching out to various stakeholders and win their confidence. A large number of
non-government organisations, people's organisations and civic and professorial groups are
working together to show that the private sector is active in helping the people ill need. CSR and
its package of substantial benefits for communities unquestionably make good business sense.
But a workplace reporter from Australia writes, "Westpac is Australia's most socially responsible
company in all audit of the top 100 firms - but many others are failing far short of community,
employee and investor expectations."
Likewise, in new ratings system for CSR, most of Australia's top 100 companies failed the test
when it came to caring for the environment. Eighty-six of the top 100 firms were rated
unsatisfactory on their environmental friendliness, with only 12 firms scoring a pass or better and
none scoring the top grade. The weakness was revealed in a new rating of companies according to
the so-called triple bottomline of social, environmental and workplace performances and
corporate governance.
On the other hand, New Zealand companies operating in Australia are reportedly failing to
impress Australia’s leading experts in CSR, a new measure to judge how well companies treat the
communities that support them. New Zealand's biggest company, Telecom NZ, has become the
worst performer among the 100 listed Kiwi corporations in the inaugural RepuTex rating.
Close to home, In India, a study done two years ago by London's The Energy and Resources
Institute-Europe found that Indian companies were yet to embrace CSR as a core business
strategy. Then just a year later, another study reflected a paradigm shift. It found that a majority of
the companies surveyed took up CSR programmes in their desire to be good corporate citizens
and to improve the brand image.
A study on CSR, Jointly done by UNDP, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Confederation of Indian
Industry and the British Council, saw a majority of corporate saying that they ranked ethical
conduct including compliance and transparency of business and nation building among the
definitions closest to their perception of CSR. A good chunk of Indian exporters, for ex- ample,
agreed that social compliance was paramount ill securing orders abroad.
Since CSR is perceived as a mechanism to proactively address the significant regulatory
requirement especially those concerning health, safety and environment, a device to rate
Bangladeshi companies can be put in place. Many Bangladesh companies nowadays claim to
CSR-savvy. Those who claim to be CSR-friendly are already established business houses of
considerable repute. But if they are asked to produce their environmental reports, most of them
would fail to do so. Bangladeshi companies mostly contribute money, as part of their CSR
initiatives, to games and sports, occasional healthcare initiatives like eye camp, blood donation
There are, however, some who run informal initiatives on planting trees which look extremely
casual, sometimes very cavelier. The government is at the forefront ill this respect. National
leaders are seen to plant trees - which they say is "caring for the environment" - oil special days.
Initiatives like these hardly benefit the overall environment of the country.
Doing business in all eco-friendly manner has these days become heart and soul of businesses.
For example, if anyone wants to go for a new tea garden in the hill region or tannery business or
establish a factory near a locality - they need to show what they are doing for conserving the
Amid a problem-ridden atmosphere, business in Bangladesh is just flourishing. If the new
businesses are made to follow a set of guidelines on environmental concerns as part of their CSR
activities the country would go a long way in protecting and conserving its environment.
Therefore, there should be a system of annual rating of the companies according to their
contribution to the environment. But before that, a well-though-out, unifying set of guidelines is
needed. Otherwise, caring for the environment in an indiscriminate manner would bear no fruit.
Window-dressing or genuine commitment?
Ekram Kabir

There are times, in this era of Internet, the sick and distressed are seen using the Net to ask for
help. Last week, such an email went around the web portals. A 29-yearild father, George Winslet,
and his wife were asking help for their daughter, Rachel, who is 10 months old. Doctors detected
cancer in her brain. There is only one way to save her: an operation. Sadly, the parents didn't have
enough money to pay the cost of brain surgery. America Online and ZDNET had come forward to
help the child, by paying part of the operation cost.
By definition, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is all about businesses ploughing some of
their profits back into the society. In doing so, gradually CSR initiatives are also being
corporatised. If a company, as part of its CSR activities, wants to put its money in healthcare, it
sets up a hospital or gives money to a hospital. But what if less affluent patients like Rachel who
need money for their treatment for major illness? Where do they go? Can they approach any
corporation for help?
Now, why did AOL and ZDNET agree to help Rachel? Because if her father George Winslet sent
his email to a large number of people, and asked the mail-receivers to send it again to other
people, AOL could track this email and count how many people got the mail. For every person
who opens this email and sends it to at least five people, AOL would give 20 cents for Rachel's
Why would AOL pay 20 cents for each of the five people opening the email? Because by opening
the email, they are helping to expand AOL's business, either by directly using AOL portal or by
indirectly contributing to the business of e-commerce. Now, would this be called CSR of AOL or
ZDNET? Partially, maybe? But the fact remains that CSR activities are not all that self-less; there
is a certain business goal behind it. Is CSR a mere window-dressing rather than a genuine
Figures from a survey of companies in the UK's FTSE 250 index might substantiate an answer
that many executives are more concerned about image than substance. According to a report by a
London-based public relations consultantcy firm, Pielle Consulting Group, in 24 per cent of the
organisations surveyed, responsibility for CSR activities rests with the corporate communications
or public affairs departments. Almost a third - 30 per cent - viewed the key benefit of establishing
a dialogue with stakeholders as helping "identify key activities for public affairs or areas of
reputation management."
But some campaigners are unperturbed by the fact that in many companies, CSR is still
considered to be a "soft issue" and relegated to the public relations or corporate communications
department. Leo Martin, a director of London-based Good Corporation, is quoted as saying that
many companies view adopting or promoting CSR as primarily an image-building exercise. "The
impression that companies are jumping on the CSR bandwagon and are more focused on image
than substance is reinforced by companies that have seen their competitors producing fat, glossy
reports on their CSR policies and decide they want to do the same. Those reports have been
rightly criticised because they have, say, photographs of people in some poor African village that
they have helped, but there are no details about the company's treatment of employees in that
country or how it treats its suppliers there," he continues.
But, Martin points out, once a company begins to embrace CSR, for whatever reason, it doesn't
take long for the sense of responsibility to permeate throughout the organisation. "It might start
off in the public relations department or with specialist, add-on CSR teams, but it will eventually
work its way into every area of the business," he comments.
Another opinion on corporate responsibility says: "A company that has been aware of social
responsibility for long will have seen the upside. The more they understand it, the more they will
see the opportunity that is inherent in being a responsible corporation."
An analysis is required whether corporations really believe in their social responsibilities or CSR
issues are just another form of advertisement for the corporation. Again, as it is said earlier in this
piece, when a company, as part of its CSR, contributes to a country's healthcare, it usually spends
its money on a health establishment. But when - in the process - that same health establishment
itself becomes a "corporation", can that be justified as CSR? It may so turn out that after
acquiring a corporate entity, the health unit would stop receiving charity money from other
companies. But, then, would this health establishment render free treatment to the needy patients
like Rachel?
A European framework
Ekram Kabir

An increasing number of companies across Europe are coming up in promoting their corporate
social responsibility (CSR) strategies responding to a variety of social, environmental and
economic pressures. In fact, European companies seem more sincere in setting their CSR goals,
as the European Commission published a Green Paper for the their companies to follow.
CSR is, says the Green Paper, essentially a concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to
contribute to the creation of a better society and a cleaner environment. The Paper also aimed to
trigger a wide debate and seek views on CSR at national, European and international levels.
Most definitions describe CSR as a concept whereby companies integrate social and
environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their
stakeholders on a voluntary basis.
The Green Paper says that being socially responsible means not only fulfilling legal expectations,
but also going beyond compliance and investing "more" into human CSR should nevertheless not
be capital, the environment and the seen, says the Paper, as a substitute relations with
stakeholders. The experience with investment in environmentally responsible technologies and
business practice suggests that going beyond legal compliance can contribute to a company’s
competitiveness. Going beyond basic legal obligations in the social area. E.g., training, working
conditions, management employee relations, can also have a direct impact on productivity,
thereby opening a way of managing change and of reconciling social development with improved
CSR should nevertheless not be seen, says the Paper, as a substitute to regulation or legislation
concerning social rights or environmental standards, including the development of new
appropriate legislation. In countries where such regulations do not exist, efforts should focus on
putting the proper regulatory or legislative framework in place in order to define a level playing
field on the basis of which socially responsible practices can be developed, the Paper suggest.
Whilst CSR is being mainly promoted by a number of large or multinational companies, it should
be relevant to all types of companies and all sectors of activity, including SMEs. Its wider
application in SMEs including micro-businesses is of central importance, says the Paper, given
that they are the greatest contributors to the economy and employment. Although many SMEs in
Europe have already taken up their social responsibility, particularly through community
involvement, further awareness raising and support to disseminate good practice are needed to
help promote CSR among them.
A number of European companies with good social and environmental records indicate that these
activities can result in better performance and can generate more profits and growth. For many
companies, this is a new activity and longer term evaluation remains to be done, says the Paper.
The economic impact of CSR can be broken down into direct and indirect effects. Positive direct
results, may for example, derive from a better working environment, which leads to a more
committed and productive workforce or from efficient use of natural resources. In addition,
indirect effects result from the growing attention of consumers and investors, which will increase
their opportunities on the markets.
Inversely, there can sometimes a negative impact on a company's reputation due to criticism of
business practices.
This can affect the core assets of a company, such as its brands and image, the Paper says.
There are many factors which are driving this move towards CSR. The factors include:
a. new concerns and expectations from citizens, consumers, public authorities and investors in
the context of globalisation and large scale industrial change;
b. social criteria are increasingly influencing the investment decisions of individuals and
institutions both as consumers and as investors;
c. increased concern about the damage caused by economic activity to the environment; and
d. transparency of business activities brought about by the media and modem information and
communication technologies;
Although the prime responsibility of a company is to generate profits, companies can at the same
time contribute to social and environmental objectives through integration of CSR as a strategic
investment into their core business strategy and their management instruments and their
Companies should pursue, suggests the Paper, the social responsibility internationally as well as
in Europe, including through their whole supply chain. The Lisbon European Council made a
special appeal to companies' sense of social responsibility regarding best practices on lifelong
learning, work organisation, equal opportunities, social inclusion and sustainable development.
The Commission's European Social Agenda, subsequently supported by the European Council in
Nice, emphasised the role of CSR in addressing the employment and social consequences of
economic and market integration and in adapting working conditions to the new economy. In
addition the European Summit in Nice invited the EC to involve companies in a partnership with
the social partners, NG0s, local authorities and bodies that manage social services, so as to
strengthen their social responsibility.
At the international level, through policies such as trade and development co-operation, the
European Union is directly involved in issues concerning market behaviour.
CSR, says the Paper, has also a strong human rights dimension, particularly in relation to
international operations and global supply chains.
While companies increasingly recognise their social responsibility, many of them have yet to
adopt management practices that reflect it. They have to integrate it in their day-to-day
management involving their whole supply chain, companies' employees and managers need
training and retraining in order to acquire the necessary skills and competence. Pioneering
companies can help to, mainstream socially responsible practice by disseminating best practices.
Creating an e-happy society
Ekram Kabir

Is e-governance sufficiently understood in Bangladesh? "Simple, e-governance is electronic

governance," says Ziaur Rahman, a Faculty of Manarat International University, while talking to
The Financial Express.
"It encompasses all aspects of governance, be it a government agency or a private organisation
that uses the electronic media in running its operations," says Rahman, who's also involved in e-
commerce through his He says "Managing an enterprise through the use of ICT
can make, it efficient, transparent and accountable. It can also ensure a definite and accelerated
growth of an economy.
E-governance allows an organisation or a state to save time, reduce needless movements of files
and curb environmental pollution and hazards due to less use of natural resources and dramatic
cut in transportation and human resource costs.
However, what relevance does e-governance have in Bangladesh when the country is already
mired in poverty?
Rahman says: "In the era of digital divide, Bangladesh is about to fall on the wrong side of the
divide. This is an alarming situation and Bangladesh needs put itself on the track of the 'new
economy' where the world is becoming increasingly interrelated with information traveling at
lightning speed. It is common knowledge that 'speed' and ‘efficiency' are key elements of a
successful organisation."
Countries in today's business landscape of global and Internet commerce must act more and more
like an organisation for it to succeed. If a country fails to plan an effective strategy for economic
and technological advancement by misallocating its hard earned funds, it is destined to lag
behind. Due to intense rivalry amongst countries jockeying for position in the international arena
for investments, research and overall ability to attract and retain the top brains of the world,
Bangladesh cannot waste its time in a debate 'whether e-governance is good for Bangladesh or
"Let us put things into perspective and understand the very idea that e-governance is all about
deficiency and transparency enhancement," says Rahman, the National Trainer of Junior Chamber
Bangladesh, adding: "Yes, a few jobs need to be consolidated; however, through proper training
and gradual phasing out of excess labour, pains of instituting e-governance would not be felt
seriously and the general public would not be disenfranchised because of the governent’s
intention to introduce e governance in all walks of life."
"Imagine," Rahman points out, "you are paying for all your income taxes over the Internet
connected to the central database of Income Tax Department. Wouldn't life become smoother
because you have complete command over your taxes? Perhaps, you may not need to depend on
income tax consultants who always seem to have all the relevant knowledge.”
The envelope of growth will stagnate for those countries failing to plan its future and slowly fall
into the pit of poverty and undernourishment, says Rahman.
Benefits of e-governance are quite immense. According to Rahman, “E-governance offers both
tangible and intangible benefits. Since all aspects of governance will be carried out through e-
governance, the cost would fall substantially in running operation.”
By instituting reforms, this entire management function may be reduced by a large percentage
and save much needed resources. Much of the functions that are routine may be taken out of
human intervention and allow an electronic mechanism to be substituted for it. This will clearly
allow for ensuring accuracy, transparency and zero down time. By deploying e-governance across
trickle down to other organizations, improving their organizations and facilitating intangible
benefits. E-governance itself will create growth areas in the service sector where skilled human
resource may engage in consulting, software development, human resource exports, etc.
Finally, says Rahman, the image of a country depends heavily on its prowess in the technology
arena. If Bangladesh becomes e-governance compliant and has a multitude of e-governance
initiatives in functional form, it will lend international status among the polity of advanced
But does Bangladesh have enough infrastructures and manpower to implement e-governance?
Sadly, stresses Rahman, in spite of having all the intents and purposes among the different
quarters of the intellectual class for the implementation of e-governance, it is in its nascent state
in Bangladesh.
“The reasons are aplenty. Bangladesh, being a poor economy, has to juggle with so many negative
factors that actually holds it back from investing in secondary or tertiary areas of advancement.
However, we as a country must understand that the age of incremental advancement has
vanished. In the growth curve, one perhaps may need to leap to a different platforms having full
cognizance that some rungs of the ‘knowledge ladder’ have been circumvented,” he says.
Citing an example, Rahman refers to the mobile communication sector where Bangladesh
leapfrogged to advanced CDMA technology without going through the conventional logic of
gradual technological advancement. Keeping this vision in mind. Bangladesh ought to leapfrog
into digital landscape, like Malaysia or India, and drive the agenda of immediate and
unquestioning implementation of e-governance initiatives sector by sector, Rahman suggests. The
government should also give tax incentives for organisations that will pay taxes electronically,
have its own website and be connected to e-markets and promote electronic commerce within the
our territorial boundary and also facilitate global e-commerce.
The government should also allow organisations, Rahman emphasises, to participate in bidding
for contracts over the Internet or the intranet that the government may set up and be accessed by
the public. The voting system and database of voters may also be migrated to the net for global
viewing. Investment in training and awareness is key to a successful implementation of these
much-needed e-governance reforms. The government, along with the private sector, must involve
them in the general uplift of Bangladesh, he adds.
‘Life’s Good’, so is LGE’s commitments
Ekram Kabir
At the fag end of last year, the South Korean electronics giant LG Electronics (LGE) has changed
its brand slogan to reflect, what it said, its commitment to customers. The new slogan, ‘Life’s
Good’, has been very successfully rolled out in a number of markets across the Middle East and
“After a number of successful years running its ‘Digitally Yours’ brand slogan, LGE is
reinforcing its commitment to getting closer to its customers and enriching their lives, ‘Hamad
Malik, Senior Manager – Marketing and Communications, LGE Middle East and Africa, was
quoted as saying.
Indeed, LGE strives to meet its social commitments, which it calls corporate social responsibility
(CSR). LGE says it always conducts its corporate affairs with the people in mind. Since its
beginning, it has taken the lead in the Korean electronics industry to create a convenient and
happy society for all. After years of contributions to public welfare, LGE has not only grown into
a national corporation, but it has also become a global corporation.
Among its CSR activities, sponsoring the Villa de Las Ninas, a girls’ house in Mexico run by a
mission group is quite prominent. The house offers free technical education to poverty-stricken
children in Mexico.
LGE has also sponsored free surgical operations for babies with harelips in impoverished regions
that lack medical resources, like certain places in the meddle East and Africa, employing the
services of a specialized medical team from Korea. In so doing, LGE provides these children with
precious opportunities to live new lives.
In Thailand, LGE is currently working with the Thai government in an anti-drug campaign
because drug abuse is a major problem there. Last year, LGE launched a hike across the country
as volunteers traveled a total of 698 km from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
The company also imparts education. It has established the LG Colour TV Village in China with
an aim to develop a backward agricultural village. It also raised the LG Hope Primary School, a
children’s school with in the village, which was also a recipient of LGE’s donation of projection
TVs and computers.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Korea-Iran diplomatic ties in 2002, LGE created a
touchstone, called the Seoul Street Landmark, in the name of LG, and donated it to the city of
LGE also supported campaigns to donate used computers to orphanages in Egypt. The company
invited Turkish veterans, who fought in the Korean War, to Korea. LG Electronics also sponsored
the crippled children soccer club in the Netherlands, and the establishment of a rehabilitation
center in Russia for children suffering from tumour.
LGE believes, according to available information, that a “corporate citizen” is a corporation that
not only pursues profits but also undertakes certain responsibilities and obligations to the
community. This was seen in June 2003 when LGE launched a Social Service Group composed
of 200-odd members from each LG Electronics workplace across Korea. These cause-oriented
individuals will engage in rescue and support during national disasters.
With growing popularity Baduk in CIS (Russian Baduk Association has more than 30,000
registered players), LG Electronics has made Baduk part of its cultural marketing activities by
hosting Baduk tournament games in various cities around CIS region since 1998 with resounding
success. In Russia, “baduk fever” is heating up, with registered players reaching 30,000.
LG Electronics also set its vision and policies for a cleaner environment by selecting the global
environmental issue as an improvement task for management. The company focuses on
developing green products befitting its stature as a global player. It announced “LG Declaration
for a Cleaner Environment” in 1994 and made it one of its cornerstones in business operation.
Bangladesh is one of the biggest consuming countries of LGE products. Its products have already
been received well by Bangladeshi buyers. Refrigerators, television sets, personal computers etc.,
are the most popular appliances that LGE markets in Bangladesh. The company also has immense
potentials in this country and the company is likely to grow here.
However, even if the company has a lot of contributions, the media has little information of
LGE’s CSR activities in Bangladesh. This lack of information might adversely contribute to its
sale here. For, the sense of liking the companies who have CSR activities is growing among the
consumers in Bangladesh. LGE would do better if it prepares its CSR report on Bangladesh.
Microsoft’s nonprofit ideals
Ekram Kabir
In April 2002, Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, joined hands with Sir
Elton John AIDS Foundation to generate awareness and raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention. It
announced the MSN Money Celebrity Market Challenge featuring Elton John. Consumers can
log on to CNBC on MSN Money and learn how to improve their stock-picking skills while taking
part in a virtual portfolio contest that supports global education about one of the world’s deadliest
On behalf of each participant, Microsoft donates 50 cents to the Elton John Foundation, an
international nonprofit organization founding HIV/AIDS prevention education programmes and
direct patient services worldwide.
Chris Jolley, director of marketing for the Financial Products Group at Microsoft was quoted as
saying: “The MSN Money Celebrity Market Challenge is a risk-free and fun way for consumers
to experiment with online stock-picking while becoming familiar with the internet’s assortment of
useful financial resources and tools.”
This is how Microsoft tries its best to help people affected by HIV/AIDS. It says business is built
on relationships – with its customers, partners, investors, employees, and with the communities
where the company perform. Microsoft, according to its web site, is committed to creating
innovative new technologies to empower people with disabilities, and support and advance open
technology standards to strengthen communities worldwide.
“Microsoft’s mission is to throughout the world to realize their full potential,” Bill Gates, the
Chairman and Chief Software Architect of the company, has been quoted as saying many times.
Created in 1983, Microsoft Community Affairs was one of the first philanthropic efforts in the
high-tech industry. Microsoft UP (Unlimited Potential) is a global programme that focuses on
improving lifelong learning for disadvantaged young people and adults by providing technology
skills through community-based technology and learning centers. Last year alone, Microsoft and
its employees gave more than $246.9 million in cash and software around the world to help
people and communities realize their potential.
Microsoft and the school District of Philadelphia have teamed up on a US$46 million project to
build the “school of the future.” To accomplish this mission, Microsoft will provide a monthly
chronicle to the partners, the customers, and the internal Microsoft stakeholders. At the end of the
project, Microsoft will have a story of how a school district, a company, and hundreds of people
made a difference in lives of children everywhere. Philadelphia was chosen as the school site
because they asked.
Embarking on a project such as School of the Future brought with it many challenges; current
infrastructures and technology initiatives, political events, internal apprehensions and conflicting
priorities. However, the people involved in this project are dedicated to kids. They are committed
to making sure that nothing short of the best is available to the students of Philadelphia and they
believe that anything is possible.
In the Mission District of San Francisco, more than 100 organisations benefited from Microsoft’s
Connected Learning Community Programme. Arriba Juntos, Spanish for “upward together,” is a
nonprofit career-development agency which for the pat 35 years, has helped low income people
and minorities, primarily Latinos, find secure, permanent jobs.
The programme also seeks to enhance the education and communication of individuals in
disadvantaged communities by expanding access to information technology. Bruce Brooks,
Microsoft’s Director of Community Affairs, believes the programme offers an effective way to
provide technology access directly to underserved communities.
This year also, in an effort to increase worldwide computer literacy and reduce the global digital
divide in technology skills, Microsoft announced a second round of Unlimited Potential (UP)
grants totaling more than US$25 million in cash and software for more than 70 nonprofit
Last year, Microsoft boss Bill Gates had granted $28-million (about R205-million) to a Southern
African AIDS institutive which is to examine the effectiveness of latex diaphragms as a
preventative measure for HIV/AIDS victims. Nine global corporate house operating in
developing countries pledge their contributions to the ongoing battle against AIDS worldwide.
According to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, India’s Tata Steel and
eight other global companies – Anglo American, Chevron Texaco, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Daimler
Chrysler, Eskom, Heineken, Lafarge and Pfizer – have pledged to con-invest in expanding
HIV/AIDS programmes using their own money and infrastructure. The companies will set up
pilot programmes in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, India and Russia.
In Bangladesh, says experts, and HIV/AIDS epidemic is about to explode. Any time, the disease
could kill a large number of people. It is expected that the companies which are operating their
CSR activities in Bangladesh would emulate Microsoft’s success in HIV/AIDS research and
prevention. By doing so, these companies would go a long way – both in terms of developing the
community and also in building their own image.