CSR Network Zimbabwe Sustainability, CSR Awards set for November

by Editorial Team
3 minutes read

The Zimbabwe National Environmental, Responsible Business and Corporate   Social Responsibility Awards are set to be held virtually on 27 November at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Network Zimbabwe (CSRNZ) announced in a notice circulated last week that the event, which would be held in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) will be preceded by regional awards ceremonies. The first regional awards ceremony is pencilled for Manicaland Province on 16 October at the Golden Peacock Hotels in Mutare followed by the Midlands and Masvingo Provinces on 23 October at Pote Hill Hotel in Zvishavane. The Matabeleland region awards are set to be held on 30 October at Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel.

Business Events spoke to CSRNZ director, Willard Razawo who explained that the awards, which started back in 2016 were aimed at appreciating and thanking companies which invest in the communities they operate in.

“These are appreciation awards just to thank organisations for the good work of being responsible corporate citizens. All companies operating in Zimbabwe should operate responsibly. For example, a soap manufacturing company’s products should be exactly as their packaging states in terms of issues such as weight. They should not be found to weigh less. That is responsible business,” said Razawo.

Regarding corporate social responsibility, Razawo explained that his network was not concerned with companies which engaged in corporate social responsibility initiatives just for window dressing.

“ Some companies just donate to look cool and secure some space in print media corporate social responsibility supplements. This is called greenwashing. We are awarding those companies that go beyond the optics and make meaningful investments in the communities they operate in. Corporate social investment is not about public relations or marketing but it must be part of business,” he said.

Razawo highlighted that corporate social responsibility should be an integral part of business. He said that when a company invests in CSR, it should get a return on the investment, unlike mere donations.

“We don’t look at the case of someone who donated say 20 litres of sanitiser and then give them an award. There are benchmarks that we consider when selecting companies for the awards. These include the vulnerability of the target beneficiaries, project impact, project sustainability, the monetary value of the investment and consistency of CSR initiatives. The other areas that we look at are line of business in relation to the CSR investment, CSR initiative’s relevance to the community, people in relation to product considerations as well as company’s compliance to statutory regulations.

The idea behind the CSR awards is to excite more companies to realise the value of doing CSR. This is because CSR is an integral part of business.

Asked how companies managed to invest in their CSR programmes at a time that there was very little economic activity due to the lockdown to justify such investment, Razawo said that the pandemic saw more companies investing in COVID-19 related activities and other areas.

“The COVID-19 pandemic saw more companies investing in various initiatives. Delta Corporation donated Z$6 million towards the coronavirus mitigation initiatives despite the lockdown. It would not be surprising that were it not for the pandemic, the company could have invested less than Z$6 million. So lean economic times do not necessarily mean the cessation of all CSR programmes by all companies,” Razawo explained.

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