The joint CSR initiative commenced in 2011 as a result of a Collaboration Agreement between the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and Bank of Valletta. The project was aimed at (1) mapping out the conduct and development of CSR initiatives by Maltese companies, (2) giving additional promotion to the concept of Responsible Entrepreneurship amongst the business community and (3) maximise the benefits of CSR to both business and society at large.
The first phase of the project entailed a profiling exercise of Malta Chamber members and the CSR activities in which they were engaged. The information gathered from this exercise was used to populate a detailed database of CSR activities operated by members of the Malta Chamber.
Further to this, research was undertaken to assess the different types of CSR activities conducted and what were the resultant benefits to business. At the same time, the study also shed light on the reasons why some companies were not carrying out any sort of CSR activities.
Consequently, the Malta Chamber formed three CSR working groups made up of companies that were actively engaged in this area. Further to this stage, sub-committees were formed to tackle particular sectors linked to CSR, namely companies with best practices in (1) Environment, (2) Employment and (3) Social and stakeholders.
The main aim of the working groups and sub-committees was to assist BoV and the Malta Chamber with ideas on how to better promote CSR amongst Chamber members and BoV contacts. A further objective was to improve the conduct of CSR activities in Malta by way of (1) governance, (2) delivery and (3) communication.
The Malta Chamber in collaboration with BoV also organised a number of activities to divulge information on CSR and promote existent best practices amongst the business community.
Five CSR-related articles were carried in The Commercial Courier, which is the Malta Chamber’s bi-monthly magazine while the information stemming from the project was further disseminated through attending events and a TV programme.
CSR National Conference
These initiatives and events culminated in a national conference on the subject which was held at the Malta Chamber on 31st October 2012. The event was very well attended and was addressed, amongst others, by former PwC Malta Senior Partner John Bonello; Playmobil Malta Environment, Health and Safety Manager Adrian Vigar; as well as Charles Borg and Vanessa Macdonald, Bank of Valletta’s CEO and Head of PR, respectively.
At the conference, a pen drive containing the European CSR toolkit and case studies was distributed to all participants. The toolkit included an introduction to CSR for SMEs, an awareness raising questionnaire as well as a guide to communicating about CSR.
The conference confirmed that Responsible Entrepreneurship was most prevalent amongst local businesses both large and small – even if, at times, the business itself may have been unaware of the fact it was performing an activity that fell squarely into the CSR definition. Moreover, it emerged that responsible entrepreneurship is not the exclusive domain of large companies and that it is a critical ingredient to build a sustainable business in today’s world.
The conference amply highlighted that responsible entrepreneurship is a corporate state of mind. It weaves itself into the fabric of everything a company does and the corporate winners will ultimately be those that are governed properly and those which act responsibly. CSR is equivalent to responsible entrepreneurship. It is also a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. It should function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business would monitor and ensure its adherence to the law, ethical standards and international norms.
Responsible Entrepreneurship typically results in higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, improved company brand and product reputation, more motivated and productive employees, better relations with the local community and public authorities and increased cost savings. Properly communicated, it can help a business stand out from its competition.
The project concluded that Responsible Entrepreneurship creates a win-win situation for business and the stakeholders around it. At the same time, the Malta Chamber insists that Corporate Social Responsibility should remain voluntary and should not be regulated. Furthermore, no additional specific reporting rules should originate from legislation and therefore no additional costs and burdens should apply for companies. Whilst maintaining that all businesses should be encouraged to embrace CSR, the conference emphasized that they should do so in the correct manner. To this end it suggested measures towards proper governance, delivery and communication being amply discussed by the speakers and participants.
The Malta Chamber took much encouragement from the feedback obtained from its members ever since embarking on promoting CSR. It is convinced that it is beneficial for a business to operate with a conscience for the people and the environment around it. The Malta Chamber shall therefore remain committed to promoting and contributing towards the development of this worthy cause.
For further information or clarification please contact the Malta Chamber’s project coordinator, Andre Fenech on email: email@example.com or alternatively on 2203 2312.
CSR in brief
People reading this article might argue that CSR can only be carried out by the larger enterprises. This cannot be further from the truth, as CSR is not an exclusive area for big companies. Although there is the argument that bigger companies are better at communicating their activities, SMEs actually have more of an impact on their surroundings. Why? First of all SMEs are closer to the community they serve and secondly, they are often more integrally involved in their responsible entrepreneurship activities.
CSR is also a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy should function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business would monitor and ensure its adherence to law, ethical standards, and international norms. In fact, the Malta Chamber is of the belief that CSR should remain voluntary and should not be regulated, for companies to remain flexible. Further to this, we believe that no additional specific reporting rules should originate from legislation and therefore no additional costs and burdens would apply for companies.
Why should companies communicate about responsible entrepreneurship?Through communication, companies can provide their clients with information about the enterprise’s values. CSR can also provide a more positive way to market one’s goods or services and set a positive example for other businesses.
Further to the above, one has to look at the actual benefits of CSR which include:
- Higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Improved company, brand and product reputation
- More motivated and productive employees
- Better relations with the local community and public authorities
- Increased cost savings
Effective communication consists of transmitting information to a target group, such as your customers or suppliers. The information provided has to be relevant to both your company’s and the target group’s goals. Some examples of commonly used CSR communication tools include product labels, packaging, newsletters, reports, posters, fliers, brochures, websites, advertisements, information packs or simply word-of-mouth.
Corporate Social Responsibility – Does it Pay? (The Commercial Courier, April-May 2011)
The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has just embarked on an initiative that will enable the organisation to assess the potential of CSR activities within members’ operations and why it pays to introduce CSR practices within a company. This initiative was made possible through the supporting agreement that was signed with Bank of Valletta last year and in fact, the Bank is also assisting the Malta Chamber through its internal expertise in this area.
Bank of Valletta has been committed for several decades to helping its surrounding community and has fully embraced CSR practices during the last years, even publishing five reports detailing their activities in this regard. In fact, the Bank’s motto with regards to CSR states that they " are committed to play a leading and effective role in the country’s sustainable development, whilst tangibly proving ourselves to be responsible and caring citizens of the community in which we operate."
On 29th September 2011, Policy Manager Mr. Andre Fenech delivered a presentation on the benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), during an event organised by MEUSAC and the Malta Business Bureau. The aim of the conference was to promote Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and Corporate Social Responsibility in Malta as well as to provide an opportunity for networking between the various stakeholders in the Maltese public and private sectors as well as civil society.
During his presentation Mr. Fenech pointed out that CSR should remain voluntary, should not be regulated and should remain business-driven. He explained the importance of the exchange of experiences and good practices amongst businesses. He added that many SMEs are already managed in a responsible way (at times unknowingly), are socially engaged and traditionally participate in the life of the local community. He insisted that the owners' ethical values often play a key role in the companies’ attitudes to CSR. He also stated that benefits include a higher level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, improved company, brand and product reputation, more motivated and productive employees and increased cost savings.
The full presentation can be accessed here.
Pastoral Commission for Work Seminar
Another event in which Mr. Fenech also took the opportunity to present the project to an audience was organised by the Pastoral Commission for Work in the seminar entitled "Il-Hidma Volontarja u min ihaddem". During this seminar, the Malta Chamber presented itself as being at the forefront of the promotion of voluntary work within companies and the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector Seminar
On the 28th of September, the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector held a Business Breakfast which was hosted by the European Representation in Malta at Dar l-Ewropa. This was organised in preparation to the National Conference ‘Employee Supported Volunteering’ which was then held on the 28th of October. During this pre-conference session, Ms. Marylyn Hili, Research Executive of the Malta Chamber, participated as part of the panel and was asked to speak about the role of businesses in CSR. She also gave an overview of the CSR project, in which the Malta Chamber is currently engaged in collaboration with Bank of Valletta, and this proved to be a good opportunity to expose this initiative.
The Malta Chamber also supported Malta Council for Voluntary Sector during the conference on the subject of Employee Supported Volunteering. The aim of the conference was to bring together the business community and the voluntary sector, where both parties could discuss possible cooperation as part of the private sector’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The concept was directed at moving away from traditional voluntary work and towards offering professional services which are much needed by the voluntary sector.
On the 15th of December 2011, Executive Ms. Marylyn Hili was invited to contribute in a live discussion held on NET TV on the programme entitled ‘Il-Mara tal-lum’. The programme focused on volunteering and Ms. Hili intervened by giving an overview of the CSR project and by also giving the Malta Chamber’s views on Employee Volunteering. This was an important opportunity for exposure for both the project and the Malta Chamber’s efforts.