A SCRIPT to Create High-Impact CSR | Saradar Bank | Banks in Lebanon | Personal Banking | A Digital Bank

A SCRIPT to Create High-Impact CSR

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Companies love the holiday season because it gives them the perfect opportunity to support causes or help people in need. This year at Saradar Bank we initiated a food donation campaign and we were able to send packages to around 90 families facing difficult economic circumstances.

Our internal campaign was a great success and we engaged colleagues across our entire branch network.

There is no greater feeling than being able to help someone else. Even so, we know we can always do better to "give back to the community." There is often a huge gap between what effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should be and what it is in practice.

This is because most people have an incomplete understanding of CSR – Is it charity? Public relations? Advertising? In fact, effective CSR strategies have two objectives: benefits for society (e.g. improving the standards and quality of life for citizens) and benefits for a business by enhancing its image as a creator of value.

Companies have to navigate carefully in CSR waters and it is a learning process. We are committed to bettering ourselves, so we’ve put together a SCRIPT of the best practices to ensure we, and others like us, do it the right way:

1. S.ustainability

Customers are increasingly seeing sustainability as a measure to evaluate companies’ social responsibility.

As bankers ourselves, we know we are among the top industries generating paper waste. So it becomes pressing for us to sort this waste, use recycled paper, or better yet: go fully digital.

Other initiatives like promoting and engaging in recycling, installing smart lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in their offices all have a high impact on the environment we share. And eventually on the way customers perceive a company’s social responsibility.

2. C.oncentration

Companies have limited time and resources. So instead of spreading their efforts randomly or supporting “pet projects,” they should choose CSR opportunities that have the greatest and longest lasting impact on society. They need to plan their involvement like a long-term business investment and use sound impact measurement tools instead of looking for a “quick fix.”

Here, I am reminded of Confucius' saying that goes: “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.”

3. R.apport

“Giving back” to the community can be easier if companies first play a more active and long-lasting role in a community, namely by building rapport and relationships with its members.

In a small geographical business environment like ours, most of a company’s customers will include shopkeepers and service providers, as well as municipalities, NGOs, cultural centers, etc. from the surrounding area.

Companies should show these members their support on a more regular basis (instead of just during the holiday season). For example, they should always seek to participate in events, fairs, and exhibitions (especially when they promote local businesses) and buy from local suppliers whenever they can. They should also plan time for community service (e.g. cleaning up the streets with volunteers).

4. I.nnovation

The purpose of innovation is to improve or create new value. This is the responsibility of every member of a company, from the CEO to the most recently hired employee.

Of course the drive for innovation should start at the top; the CEO should help make CSR a key element in every layer of the company’s operations. From there, a company should foster an environment that encourages its employees to propose new ideas that improve not only products, services, and processes, but also CSR initiatives.

5. P.artnerships

We’ve said earlier that successful CSR initiatives guarantee benefits to both society and companies.

The best way to achieve this is through partnerships. Companies know best what’s good for their business, and civil associations or non-governmental organizations understand best the real needs of an area or population segment. Together, they can map out a mutually beneficial arrangement.

6. T.ransparency

Before they even start considering CSR opportunities, companies should take a step back and look closely at the first and most basic expression of social responsibility: transparency in the way they conduct business. This is at the heart of companies’ offering; without transparency, customers would simply stop dealing with companies.

A company that embraces transparency and combines it with good business practices makes it clear to its customers, its employees, and the public at large that it puts a high value on its social responsibilities from the onset.

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