Several years ago I was surveyed by a Chamber of Commerce about the Corporate Social Responsibility policies at PMR, the company I then led. I found so annoying one of the questions “what steps do you take to ensure your staff take part in CSR activities?” that I wrote a CSR policy on the spot. I dislike the idea of compulsory CSR very much. Compulsory good behaviour is as idiotic as the compulsory happiness of Monty Python’s Happy Valley
Beyond this, there are more fundamental issues like the business being a “good” business. I had a few years earlier had a business fiasco where I was the major shareholder in a company that went bust, while supporting a development project in Indonesia. With advice from some staff members,
“PMR is supportive of individual and group efforts of staff to contribute more than their job and the law requires both to the societies in which we operate and the company as a whole. We believe that company resources can provide an effective channel with benefits to people and institutions outside the company and that through doing this both the company and the wider community can gain.
This CSR policy is not about looking good. We mean it. First and foremost.
PMR aims to be a profitable and successful company
In order to fund Corporate Social Responsibility, the company has to be successful, in terms of looking after our clients well, having attractive working conditions for staff, making profits and paying our taxes(1). To give money away we have to be making it and our primary responsibility is to be profitable. It would be irresponsible for management and staff to focus attention on the wider community if the fundamental raison d’etre of the business is not being successfully executed 2. If we don’t look after ourselves then we can’t look after other people, even if we want to.
CSR is not compulsory for our staff
We say “mozesz nie musisz” (Polish “you can but you don’t have to”) with respect to voluntary activities. We don’t want an atmosphere where people are involved in CSR because they feel they have to. Being a “good citizen” is an active choice that individuals can take according to their own consciences and the company will not require participation in CSR activities. PMR policy is to let staff choose whether to get involved. If a member of staff does an outstanding job, but keep his or her private time for their own activities, that is completely acceptable. If a member of staff wants to contribute their own time and resources to a CSR project, it is quite likely that the company will make a matching contribution, in cash or kind. People acting under their own initiative are far more likely to be committed to what they are doing, and the company does not waste time supporting things nobody cares about, just to “look good”.
PMR has four CSR pledges:
That we will act ethically in all areas of our business, aware of the effect we have on all our stakeholders in the work we undertake.
That, where appropriate, company resources will be made available to support programs initiated by members of staff aimed at benefiting the wider community and environment. This can take the form of corporate support for employee giving, corporate support for employee volunteering and corporate giving.
That we will work to ensure a safe, enjoyable and tolerant workplace with equal opportunities for all our employees.
We welcome any initiatives that reduce our energy consumption or cut waste.
To help deliver on these pledges, PMR runs a suggestions scheme on its intranet which is reviewed by the management through which suggestions (about CSR or anything else) can be made. Staff can initiate ideas on their own at any time they like.
In the past, PMR staff have been supportive of:
links between business and education, fostering entrepreneurship and business awareness in Schools and Universities
public speaking initiatives (helping found Toastmasters in Cracow)
sponsoring educational summer school events/parties
children’s and families’ charities.
Some things we support, like joining and supporting a local frisbee club are more a a fun community thing to do than a “worthy cause”. We are not bothered about definitions.
CSR at PMR is bound to evolve as the firm grows, particularly under the influence of the rapidly increasing number of staff from different parts of the world and the ideas that they bring. New ideas (from staff or anyone else reading this document) are always welcome.