Speakers at the International Seminar on CSR organized by IUBAT expressed deep concern over the working atmosphere in both public and private sector in Bangladesh adding that good corporate governance practices would help running every enterprise in methodical way enabling them to gain confidence of customers as well as investors. . Terming CSR as the continuous learning process the experts observed that all organizations will have to develop collective competence by educating workforce and improving the overall management. They also suggested ways and means to improve the working atmosphere by strictly adhering to key concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and disseminating this discipline into entire organ of the organization. The speakers argued that CSR was related to social management as such by strengthening this practice any organization could develop its operational management to achieve the goal. This would help delivering social compliance required for setting global standard for maximizing the value thereby enhancing competitiveness in the entire organization, they informed. The first ever seminar on CSR, portrayed a gloomy picture and urged the policy makers at all levels to design a performance roadmap in conformity with set rules as contained in core concept of CSR to develop a good management credential necessary to have a positive impact on the society. They made a clarion call to bring adequate improvements in working methodology and operational activities, in line with global changes to give big push needed for reforms to ensure consistent product quality and overall improvement in management function. The Centre for Management Development of International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT) organized daylong International Seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility in Bangladesh: Current Issues and Future Trends recently at the Main Auditorium of IDB Bhaban, Agargaon, Dhaka.HE Dr Stefan Frowein, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh and HE Mr.Fritz Meijnder, Charge d’Affaires, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
were present on the occasion as Chief Guest and Special Guest respectively. Presided by Professor Mr. M Alimullah Miyan Vice-Chancellor and Founder of IUBAT the Seminar was conducted by number of high profile resource persons from Canada, India, UK, USA, the Netherlands and Bangladesh. Important persons from academia, intelligentsia, civil society, policy makers, business community, chambers, NGO’s and elite of different strata of the society concerned with CSR related assignments attended the seminar and took part in the deliberations. Sponsored by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands the objective of the seminar was to provide a greater exposure to the key elements of CSR for improving the performance of business organizations in both public and private sector in Bangladesh The speakers categorically differentiated charity from CSR, keeping the process more action oriented by instigating corporate values, cultures, business strategy and future sustainability. They also made it clear that organization’s profit should reflect core-values and adherence to best practice of CSR regardless of any constraints. Speakers explained that the application of CSR oriented operation policy will help achieve optimum production for generating optimum profit, provided the companies concerned maintained a good image for themselves as socially responsible employers demonstrating a genuine intention to contribute growth and development of the country. They also maintained that CSR will help advance economic and social well being enabling people around to realize the full potential. Keeping in view all these vital issues the seminar underscored the need to craft pragmatic rules and regulation to this effect for excellently managing the business within the broad framework of socio- economic development. They examined the rationale for the adoption of CSR initiatives in management function, community development, corporate sustainability, accountability and professional development for safeguarding the interest of any organization. HE Dr. Stefan Frowein, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh inaugurating the Seminar as the Chief Guest expressed the hope that Bangladesh will march ahead with good practice of CSR in every sectors utilizing its major components in their overall strategy for improving the operational activities in their respective areas. Speaking on the occasion as special guest Mr. Fritz Meijndert, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands called upon the professionals in all organizations to enforce CSR policies that reflect public concern about the environment, human resource diversity and to ensure distribution of income to meet the existing challenges in the society. Number of resource persons from home and abroad presented valuable papers highlighting various key elements and core –concepts of CSR suggesting dissemination of its good components to every organ of all companies to act as a catalyst for significant commercial benefit of the organization concerned. Dr Syed Saad Andaleeb, Professor, Penn State University, USA, in his key note address observed that the perfect implementation of CSR could bring positive changes in working atmosphere dynamising management procedure helping the government to ensure social responsibility in a country like Bangladesh. He was of the opinion that CSR strategy delivers a strong and positive message that the company is ethically and socially responsible and contributing to the country’s overall economic development. Dr D Rajasenan, International Centre for Economic Policy Analysis, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala & Engr. K. Vijayachandran, Chairman, Cochin Centre for Policy Initiatives, Kerala, India in their respective paper detailed professional views on CSR methodology calling upon responsible persons in every hierarchy to motivate working manpower to obtain maximum benefit for the society. In the technical session Dr Rodney J Reed, Company Chairman of Reed Consulting (Bangladesh) Ltd integrating CSR into a company human resource manual, detailed the necessity that organizations in both public and private sectors have to behave in socially responsible way to meet the generalized requirement of the society. Prof H Eric Frank formerly with the University of Bath, UK presently visiting Professor of IUBAT in his paper pointed to competitive advantage through social responsibility, presented the ethical consumerism that customers are becoming more aware of the environmental and social implications of their day-to-day consumer decisions and are making purchasing decisions according to their environmental and ethical concerns. Mr Edward Probir Mondol reflecting on CSR shrimp sector in Bangladesh noted that Bangladeshi shrimp exporters continued to suffer from real problems but despite that they maintained their efforts to upgrade product quality and safety in accordance with the guidelines of FAO of the United Nations. Prof Mohammad Raihanul Haque, faculty of IUBAT detailing CSR challenges in the country said that corporate social responsibility is a truly sensitizing concept for local industries. He was of the opinion that the leaders in business and industrial arena will have to demonstrate good corporate practices and professional excellence to boost investor’s confidence, which in turn enhances both domestic and international investment. Giving an overview of Canadian experience Mr. Nicholas Genis highlighted that implementation of CSR is broadly comparable to other advanced economics and the niche companies and organizations in Canada utilize this discipline as a major component in their overall corporate strategy. Professor Akbar Hossain, Adjunct Professor of IUBAT in his paper, Social Compliance Foster Productivity, cited an old saying that people are the best asset in a company rather than expensive machine, if our people stay in peace they will be concentrating more in ensuring quality and quantity. . The ending session dealt with vital CSR components and examined the ground reality at the field level. Speakers pointed out that the existing challenges have to be addressed with adequate measures suggesting policy making bodies to design pragmatic decision to strengthen corporate practices. The round up discussion critically examined important features of corporate social responsibility and asked the competent authorities in all sectors to continue relentless efforts to change the scenario by administrative measures for recording significant changes in CSR initiatives. Number of participants pointed out that various anomalies are prevalent in every strata of society to hinder CSR practices and called upon the professionals at all levels to evolve policy guidelines to establish strong corporate discipline necessary to strengthen capacity building efforts. Summing up the discussion Prof M Alimullah Miyan who chaired the session, said that this seminar would herald a new beginning enabling all professionals to participate in fruitful discussions and debates to help evolve and implement CSR practices in a desired manner to materialize the dream of this country- to attain a good standing in local and international market.