By Jesus Estanislao
AN enterprise with a program for sustaining its governance and transformation program cannot limit its outreach to its external value chain, and therefore only to the sector of which it is a part. It also forms part of a local area, perhaps a local community, to which it reaches out as well.
This too has practical benefits for the enterprise, and therefore this cannot be regarded as a mere add-on to its list of social responsibility programs. This too would require outcome-oriented programs, which need to be sustained over a period of time, in concert with at least a few other enterprises in the area.
What benefits should an enterprise work for?
Physical cleanliness and wholesomeness of its immediate neighbourhood. There is a difference between being in the midst of a seedy environment and one that is brighter, cleaner, more organized, and less prone to crime. This may require getting a few enterprises, even households in the neighbourhood together, and asking: what can we do together to clean up and make more physically attractive as well as convenient the neighbourhood we share in common?
Lobby for physical infrastructure for the neighbourhood. This may be quite a stretch in many instances. But if an enterprise is seen as committed to the improvement of physical facilities in the neighbourhood, it can have a stronger and more influential voice in lobbying for certain basic infrastructure needs, from flood control to basic ground rules to ease traffic congestion. The limits of what enterprises can effectively do in this regard are well known; nonetheless, enterprises need to be seen to be pro-active in promoting the neighbourhood as an attractive area to do business in.
Educational and cultural enrichment programs in tandem with the schools, colleges, and universities within the area. In virtually all areas, schools already have different cultural and educational-assistance programs. Working with them can help raise the level of effectiveness, of standards, and of diversity of these programs: such a cooperation can multiply “bang from each buck” and effort of these schools, particularly if volunteer groups from a few enterprises can be thrown into their usual cultural and educational fare.
The initiatives for outreach to a local community can be as varied as the many needs of different communities. Whatever those initiatives may be chosen by a governance enterprise, it is essential that at least a few other enterprises are involved: normally, the real needs of any local community are too many for a single enterprise to take care of. It is also absolutely important that initiatives are undertaken not to score advertising points, but rather from a deep sense of social responsibility: governance outreach cannot—and should not be—a part of an enterprise’s advertising budget. Finally, instead of looking for the content of such a governance outreach to the local area mainly from the enterprise’s standpoint and perspective, it is best that such content is shaped and formed by the genuine needs of real people in the same community.
The appeal for “genuineness” and “sincerity” cannot be made louder when it comes to this type of outreach. The enterprise has to be out there for the people of the area; rather than simply use them as a backdrop for scoring positive points in the public perception index to favour the enterprise.
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