“Okay, okay, hold on. Hold this gift bag with the logo of the company I work for and let me make sure the letter ‘H’ on my branded belt buckle shows clearly and that my plaid Burberry shirt shines in this Instagram filter.”
“Here we go, Picture uploading… Like, Like, Like. Reposted by the manager, followed with a repost by cousins of the Public Relations officer, and motivational comments ‘Well done, cuz’ and ‘Looking good, bro.’”
You see how the topic drifted? This is exactly my point. It was supposed to be about “giving back” and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)* initiatives to help shape our society and inspire, but, as usual, intentions fell victim to society’s lust for attention packaged with promotional objectives discussed over five-minute meetings by bored managers and useless employees. This is nothing more than picking on those in need and capitalizing on their misery. It is disgusting and ludicrous.
“As usual, intentions fell victim to society’s lust for attention”
The employee posing the picture has no freaking idea what CSR is. The whole approach started with the manager’s request to follow a trend and copy competitors who are engaged in similar nonsense. It won’t be so long before they hire a “special” team to take care of objectives internally. They aren’t even that special, more like fresh graduates attracted by the job title and good-looking business cards with one objective: to get that latest breast cancer awareness flyer out before October ends.
I’ve worked with many companies in Kuwait on their CSR initiatives and executed many of our own such programs at Forward Sports as companies seek to fulfill their CSR objectives. I’ll say this: out of the 50+ companies I have worked with in Kuwait so far in my career, at least 50% had no idea what they wanted, or what the acronym “CSR” stands for. Only a quarter of them had one or two members of their team who knew something about it and capitalized on it. The remaining were a mix between wanting to do something about it without knowing much about the purpose or the objective, or doing some decent activities and building on it.
Who is to blame? I’m not quite sure who is responsible for such low levels of operations. Let’s face some nasty truths: a major contributor to this issue is the level at which our society operates, starting from poor parenting, followed by dumb educational systems and old-fashioned corporate training, all the way up to people’s unwillingness to read and educate themselves. There is a craving at the societal level for abusive behaviors. This is borne out by taking advantage of vacations to the extreme and finishing one’s eight-hour job with minimal effort and becoming obese along the way.
What can we expect as a result of such standards? Some might argue differently, but that is also due to the level of thinking they have already adopted that disallows the acceptance of this epidemic. It is only by accepting such standards and setting a plan to overcome them that Kuwait can hope to grow as a productive, smart society with more intellectuality and the ability to pursue goals and achieve objectives at a higher level. This, in turn, will affect how we perceive CSR and understand the role and responsibility we have as individuals and corporations to develop sustainable initiatives, rather than taking selfies to show a logo when gifting an orphan with a pack of branded playing cards and Chinese-made hats.
“The purpose of CSR is to flip negative issues around and empower life-changing initiatives, and not to pig on those in need”
I challenge companies to invest in proper CSR training and to start educating their teams about the concept. They can do this by showing examples of international CSR campaigns that actually serve the greater good and bring about changes. Then, I want to see Kuwaiti firms using international skills to develop campaigns with clear objectives to flip negative issues around and empower life-changing initiatives that are not only showcasing fashionistas’ attractive poses while taking advantage of those in need. Instead, they should work to have an impact, a positive impact, and make change reachable.
Stop pigging and start impacting.
* Definition: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. [Reference]