CSR: working with companies
In Hungary, social responsibility is a well-known and widespread concept. We at Partners Hungary Foundation are in the fortunate position of working with Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) for the seventh year in a row to promote health awareness and access to healthcare for disadvantaged Roma communities.
Corporate social responsibility means, in a first step, to we see our room for manoeuvre to act, to situations in our wider and narrower society and environment. In this sense, not only companies, but also individuals, civil and professional organisations, public and educational institutions, in other words all of us, have such a responsibility.
"Corporate responsibility, or as it is often abbreviated, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), refers to the way in which companies manage and develop their impact on society and the environment, and create value for their shareholders and partners through the development of strategy, organisational issues and ways of working" (Csreurope, 2013). This strategy is not just business philanthropy, but "a voluntary commitment to developing the common good: through business practice by engaging the resources of the firm. In the long term, it is more successful in terms of profit (sustainability) than a business that is solely profit-driven" (Csreurope, 2013).
The concept of corporate social responsibility is not only present in business circles, but also in the organisations and aspirations of the European Union. As early as 2001, the European Commission, Promoting a European Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility has dedicated a Green Paper to this topic: "...CSR is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns into their business processes and the way they interact with their partners without compensation." According to this approach, companies take account of society's interests by considering the impact of their activities on their customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders, but also on the environment. This action also seems to go beyond the legal obligation, namely by business operators voluntarily taking steps to improve the quality of life of the society around them.
CSR is therefore:
- It starts from a synergistic cooperation with society and the environment,
- fits in with the organisational, corporate strategy
- voluntary approach and practice
- does not jeopardise competitiveness, but inspires a sense of responsibility and action.
We, at the Partners Hungary Foundation, as an NGO, we work for common social values. We have a responsibility to Educationwithin vulnerable groups, the Roma communitiesand to ensure that individuals or groups of people conflictWe resolve our problems peacefully, looking after each other.
Our work focuses on reaching as many people as possible with the methods that work, to help us build better relationships with each other in our everyday lives. And when a big company gets on our side, it leads to very good collaborations, such as Arconic (former Alcoa Copper) or the Glaxo SmithKline our programmes with pharmaceutical companies. Contact us if you think you would like to work with us!
What makes a good cooperation in a CSR programme between the company and the implementer?
- In our experience, it is key to ensure that the programme you want to implement fits into your company's profile and strategy, and that you work with implementing individuals and organisations who also have a programme that fits into their business.
- It means a lot if there is continuous communication between the CSR officer and the implementer, as a live relationship makes it easier to work out the details and pay attention to all important aspects.
- It is useful for company representatives to get to know and meet regularly with programme stakeholders (unless the nature of the programme does not allow this), so that they can experience the impact of the programme for themselves.
How does the Together for Better Health programme work?
Partners Hungary Foundation joined the ROMED programme of the Council of Europe in 2010. Currently, we are combining our own experience and ROMED's toolkit to develop a unified methodology, the intercultural mediation we work on integration, mainly in the fields of education, health and local community needs.
Intercultural mediation is a participatory method, a community work that builds bridges between community members living in settlements and the institutions and decision-makers operating in the settlements, in order to promote and positively influence the situation of communities in need.
The local mediation activities used in the method are coordinated by intercultural mediators. They are professionals who, with their local knowledge, conflict management and community planning skills, facilitate dialogue between Roma and non-Roma communities and represent the interests of disadvantaged groups at the local level. Intercultural mediators are active members of the local Roma community who want to take action themselves to improve their living conditions and are therefore able to mobilise other members of the community. They themselves identify the most pressing problems in the community that they want to address, and they receive support from local authorities and other organisations to do so. The Partners Hungary Foundation is responsible for training intercultural mediators and facilitating dialogue between local actors.
What are the results of the programme?
Just a few of the local projects, in no way exhaustive, that have been carried out by the intercultural mediators and the Community Action Team:
- the establishment and operation of a mini-kitchen
- construction of outdoor toilets in Nagyecsed, Porcsalma and Ense
- Salt room in the kindergarten in Nagydobos
- sanitary painting and renovation of houses for the needy in Gyulaj - so far 48 houses have been renovated in Kalaka by community members
- coordination of a play centre in Nagydobos
- renovation and operation of playgrounds in Csenger and Hernádkak
- garbage collection, garbage- removal actions in Nyírbátor, Győrtelken, Onga
- health education for pre-school and school children,
- implementation of local campaigns and health programmes in cooperation with the health visitor (among others Arló, Borsodnádasd, Hernádkak, Hernádnémeti, Heves, Járdánháza, Jászapáti, Porcsalma, municipalities of the model health promotion programme supported by the Swiss Fund)
Our cooperation with GSK was very much strengthened by the fact that a senior member of the company was in charge of the project. During our regular meetings, he was able to bring in corporate aspects that helped a lot in the implementation. We made a point of ensuring that the funder met with local community members and attended the Community Action Group meetings. In the closing circle of one of the discussions, a key moment was when a local Action Group member tearfully told us how much the programme meant to him: his experience and expertise had never been sought before. People who would never have crossed paths otherwise met each other and were able to say things to each other that made them all more than they were. The encounters have resulted in lasting human connections: the former program officer is coming back to the community as a private donor.