CSR Forum for Responsible Business
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The first Forum for Responsible Business in Cambodia was held in Phnom Penh yesterday.
The first Forum for Responsible Business in Cambodia was held yesterday, 14th October, in Phnom Penh. About 400 participants took part ranging from government leaders, top industry players and other important stakeholders.
It was organised by the ASEAN Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Network. The forum was supported by the British Embassy Phnom Penh, UK Trade & Investment and partnering with the British Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia.
The CSR forum aimed to contribute to a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable ASEAN Community for 2015 and beyond by providing a platform for:
- knowledge sharing
It examined how ASEAN’s developing economies like Cambodia can boost their competitiveness and sustainability while benefiting all people, with a particular focus on the vulnerable and poor.
The challenge is especially big in the context of increasing globalisation and as the ASEAN Community moves towards closer economic integration post-2015 with the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community.
Lord Puttnam’s keynote speech at CSR forum
The forum coinciding with the official visit to Cambodia of the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Cambodia, Lord (David) Puttnam.
Lord Puttnam set the scene for the day’s discussion by focussing his keynote speech on human capital as a core element of CSR. Specifically, the need to develop and sustain human capital, as well ensure a notion of equitability in this context.
This was one of the issues Lord Puttnam raised with Prime Minister Hun Sen during his visit to the country, highlighting the fact that human capital cannot be disaggregated from the success of Cambodia.
Lord Puttnam also spoke of the need to ensure proper regulation of corporate values to encourage companies to invest in these values and reward those that do.
He made reference to the Scandinavian countries as an example of best practice. Their success in establishing a culture of CSR amongst the private sector is primarily due to a highly developed sense of mutuality. This makes it impossible for companies who fail to respect corporate values to thrive for very long.
Concluding his keynote speech, Lord Puttnam made reference to the ‘duty of care’ (a legal obligation requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care) and the failure to apply this legal obligation to democracy. If we can extend this notion to what we do as corporates and in the framework of governance, we can begin to change the concept of CSR so that is becomes an integral part of our lives.
Panel discussion at CSR forum
The Forum continued with a panel discussion on best practice on the ground.
The UK was at the forefront here with the British manufacturing company Dewhirst providing some innovative examples of CSR practice implemented in their factories here in Cambodia.
Speaker Mona Tep, Senior Human Resources and Admin Manager for Dewhirst, spoke of her own interpretation of CSR within the company’s corporate culture as being about Community, Sharing of benefits and Return for the company.
The panelists were able to successfully demonstrate to the audience how CSR makes business sense!
The success of yesterday’s Forum sets the scene and first steps for working towards developing Cambodia’s future in a sustainable, inclusive and equitable manner.
But as Lord Puttnam stressed to the audience, we must remember that CSR cannot be reduced to box that is simply ticked off. All three words – Corporate, Social, Responsibility – have their own profound meaning, and we must not forget the complexity and importance of each one of them. The challenge is big for Cambodia but as the Forum has shown, it is not impossible!
- UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) office has been fully functional in Cambodia since January 2013
- Lord (David) Puttnam has been Trade Envoy to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma since November 2012, and was formerly a renowned film producer of award-winning films including: The Killing Fields, The Mission, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone, and Memphis Belle.