In brief - Effective corporate responsibility programs need
structure and support
In a follow up to our February 2015 article Corporate responsibility: you can't afford to ignore
it, we examine how companies large and small can make a
meaningful social impact through collaboration and integrating
corporate responsibility (CR) into their procurement policies.
Habitat for Humanity helps thousands displaced by Boxing Day
A well structured, well supported CR program can produce
significant and impressive results. This is particularly the case
when corporations collaborate with one another on ambitious
projects dedicated to improving people's lives.
A striking example of this type of collaboration is Habitat for
Humanity, a global not-for-profit housing provider working in over
80 countries around the world. The companies which partner with
Habitat for Humanity include QBE, Boral, ARUP, Dulux, Selleys,
Nissan and many others. They help by fundraising, donating building
materials and having their staff (and retired staff) work as
volunteers on projects both in Australia and overseas.
Following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which displaced
1.7 million people in a number of Asian countries including
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, Habitat for Humanity
worked with its corporate partners to build houses for 25,000
families which had lost their homes.
Corporate collaboration can impact the lives of those in
Another example of corporate collaboration producing significant
positive results is the support given by a range of companies in
Australia to projects targeting people who are at risk of missing
out on the opportunities provided by information and communications
technology, including people on low incomes and those who live in
For example, on Palm Island - a disadvantaged indigenous
community off the coast of Queensland - several corporations
partnered with the Queensland PCYC and the state government to
provide internet connectivity to the community's youth centre.
Cisco Systems provided equipment for wireless networking and a VOIP
phone system; Telstra contributed broadband internet connectivity;
IBM donated laptop computers and Austar provided pay TV channel
Consider basing procurement decisions on social good, not just
Obviously, large corporations have the opportunity to make a
social impact on a grand scale - if they choose to do so - but it
would be wrong to think that smaller companies cannot make a
One opportunity available to businesses large and small is to
build corporate responsibility into your procurement policy. No
matter what your company's line of business is, you need to
spend some amount of money every year buying goods and services.
These dollars can be used as a tool for social good.
Instead of basing your purchasing decision purely on obtaining
the cheapest price, consider giving the work to a disability
organisation, a fair trade business or a social enterprise which
employs marginalised job seekers. At least let them have the
opportunity to give you a quote.
On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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