CSR is not just about numbers. CSR is not just about Christmas. CSR is not about being visible. CSR is about taking care during the whole year. CSR is about knowing what the real needs of the social environment are. CSR means being responsible in each of your acts. It is a way of doing the business.
I did not believe much in CSR while I was in Serbia. Actually, I neglected it. I felt like it is all fake. CSR was a question of fashion for me and I was potentially hoping that all that wasting of money will eventually stop. CSR got a new chance when I took a course on it at Lund University. I was curious what this country can teach me on that issue, and it have taught me a lot and more important, it made me think about the CSR’s future in my country.
Very simple, yet effective would be to link Maslow’s Hierarchy of human needs with Carroll's CSR pyramid. People who satisfied all their needs on lower stages can move to the higher stage. First, it is necessary that humans have satisfied their physical needs, then, they can work on their self –actualization. Company should satisfy the economic and legal responsibility, and then move to the ethical and voluntary responsibility. It can be achieved when all previous levels are fulfilled (Yelkikalan, N., & Köse, C. , 2012).
The first problem that I have recognized in CSR in Serbia is that many companies disregard the law and skip to the top of CSR pyramid –voluntary responsibility. The companies have neglected our laws and therefore degraded their demonstrated voluntary responsibility. From the ethical point of view, it would much better if they could strictly follow legal requirements only.
Second, the same company may organize a very expensive CSR action that does not bring the real value to the community but is very suitable photo opportunity. It is important to have nice pictures in the newspapers, right? Let’s plant few trees here, even if they won’t survive winter.
So what happens here is that not even the employees of the company believe in the purpose and good will of the corporation. Companies, please, give us some substance in your actions!
Third, companies in Serbia take advantage of a high unemployment ratio which is now over 24 percent.
The employers know that people cannot afford to lose jobs, so they make them work extra hours and weekends without pay. Mobbing is the reality of many employees in Serbia. Underpaid workers watch how their companies invest enormous amounts into CSR projects.
Is this ethical dear businesses? How you can be good to the general society if you do not take care of your employees? That could not be described as responsibility. It is called hypocrisy.
Start being responsible in your own house. Do not just fulfill the requirements from your HQ and spend your CSR budget on whatever is the easiest to do. Think about what is relevant to this community. Maybe a few trees are good choice for the country where everything else is in good shape but in my country there are more important things that require urgent attention. Do not take 30 interns for 6 months, 8 hours per day without paying them a single dinar.
It is not called internship it is called exploitation! I know, it is poorly defined in our laws. But you should do not take the advantage. You should know that being responsible is not about the law. It goes beyond it! Young people should not start their careers that way. If you cannot afford to pay them do not recruit them. As simple as that. Like all other resources, Serbian students are not for free.
Dear international companies, take your role very seriously because you are the one who brings CSR to my country. So set the standards high. You should serve as a role model to local businesses and to these students who will be managers tomorrow. Take that as your main responsibility, to teach Serbia how much CSR can help if in the right hands.
- Masa Lazarevic
Read more blogg posts by Masa here!
Seminar on CSR in Belgrade
On December 18 the Embassy of Sweden in Belgrade invites students from the University of Belgrade to participate in an event on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with unique guest speakers from Sweden. Read more about the event here!
If you want to know more about CSR, please follow this link: Corporate Social Responsibility in Sweden