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Monday, May 28, 2007

The growing importance of introducing CSR education in Bangladesh

Very good read from FE
CORPORATE social responsibility (CSR) is still in its early stages in Bangladesh. Whilst only a few (mostly multinational enterprises) practise CSR, the larger corporate houses and SMEs - essentially the critical mass of the economy - remain unaware about both tangible and intangible benefits of CSR. Businesses in Bangladesh are yet to realize how these practices could give them the competitive edge - both in the domestic and international markets - and make them more efficient in the long run by improving their reputation and image in the eyes of all stakeholders.Most businesses in Bangladesh, large, medium or small, currently perceive CSR as charity or philanthropy, or an investment that shows no return at least in the foreseeable future.
The social or community activities that companies undertake are driven by philanthropy and often involve "writing cheques" or "donating land" to help the local community to build mosques, schools or hospitals to address social needs. These charitable ventures, mistaken as CSR, are generally not linked with the core business processes, and play no strategic role in the businesses that undertake them.This misperception can be minimised, among other ways, by integrating courses in CSR in the business schools in Bangladesh. Although corporate social responsibility is currently one of the most frequently used buzzwords in the corporate world and among business students, the lack of a proper CSR module or course in the curricula of business schools in Bangladesh contributes towards this misperceptions about CSR.
This article attempts to shed light on the potential roles that leading public and private business schools can play in making CSR a reality in Bangladesh, and eventually, create a platform for a win-win situation for all stakeholders of a company and the company itself.Leading business schools, such as, the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), North South University (NSU), East West University (EWU), BRAC University (BU), American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB), Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) have already contributed to our corporate world by producing some of the country's brilliant business graduates. In addition, the private universities have fostered a healthy competition among business institutions and students alike by providing them with the opportunity and access to alternative business institutions besides the public ones.It is essential that business school students of today, who will be leading the corporate world tomorrow are aware and knowledgeable about how CSR can ensure sustainable benefit for both business and consumers. As such, business schools can play a pivotal role in promoting CSR education in the country.
To prepare business students, who are envisioned to become the future corporate leaders, and to ensure greater CSR adoption in Bangladesh, five leading business schools in Bangladesh - NSU, IUB, EWU, AIUB and BU - have already undertaken an initiative to integrate CSR education in their curricula.These business schools will work together to advance the agenda of incorporating CSR modules in business curricula at the tertiary level through synergy and cooperation, and encourage other business schools to follow. As a proponent and champion of corporate social responsibility, the CSR Centre at the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) will facilitate the promotion of CSR through business schools. This would be done either by developing new CSR courses or by redesigning existing courses to ensure a better understanding of CSR concepts and practices among the students.The responsibilities of businesses towards society and environment generally occupy an important spot in business courses, such as, business ethics, but these issues are usually not included as mainstream business subjects, such as, finance, strategic management, marketing and accounting. As these concepts seldom appear in the core business courses, which a business student is required to take to receive the degree, most business graduates remain unaware about the growing importance of CSR in the strategic intent of a business.
Most European and North American business schools have already started revisiting their curriculum to assess how best they could accommodate the issues and concepts of corporate social responsibility. They are either incorporating these in the core courses to start with or redesigning them to highlight and emphasise the importance of CSR for businesses receives due attention. Globalization and the recent wave of public and private corporate scandals resulted in an increasing demand for improved and enhanced knowledge on CSR in order to comprehend the complexities of the current global economic environment, and the challenges businesses and executives face to integrate into it while maintaining a cutting and competitive edge.In the United Kingdom (UK), University of Birmingham offers a Masters programme on Corporate Governance and Corporate social Responsibility and University of London in Corporate Governance and Ethics. The University of Nottingham offers Masters, MBA and PhD in Corporate Social Responsibility through its International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business School and other Ivy League schools, University of Notre Dame and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College are among those institutions that are spearheading CSR education in the United States of America (USA).While it is up to the business schools to incorporate CSR in the core business curricula, the corporate world should also come forward and create a demand for such skills in executives. Business graduates are not only an integral part of the workforce, but also constitute other stakeholders, including those in the company's supply chain, consumers and investors.
To prepare future managers and leaders for the realities of a more complex business environment, it is essential to combine CSR knowledge with core business skills through education. This knowledge could empower and equip them with a powerful understanding of the value addition of CSR, and social, environmental and economic perspectives required for operating in an interdependent world and in a competitive and evolving global economy. Farooq Sobhan is President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and Sherina Tabassum is Communications Coordinator, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A good article indeed. You could also name an organization which is promoting CSR education in the wolrd today: it's called Net Impact (www.netimpact.org). It has just opened its chapter in Bangladesh too.

I am so happy to see that we are making serious efforts to incorporate CSR education in the top business schools and I believe that it will help produce future leaders, not just corrupt-minded managers and others.

insane96 said...

I am a fresher.Can u plz give me some example of CSR activity...