Business Engagement in Social & Economic Inclusion Research

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Full Report

In addition to the Implementation Model [http://www.venturepartner.ca/Social and Economic Inclusion/model.html ], the Report posits a number of specific recommendations to foster improved corporate social responsibility social and economic inclusion practices in the Halifax Regional Metropolitan community.  In addition to recommending that companies adopt a strategic management approach to [to review this particular recommendation, go to: http://www.venturepartner.ca/Socia and Economic Inclusion/strategicmanagementapproachtoCSR.html

the Report makes 4 other recommendations.  These are outlined below:

The establishment of a Halifax Regional Municipality [HRM] CSR Council.  The opportunity to establish a HRM corporate social responsibility council, to provide the ongoing support structure and resources to help educate and facilitate companies to increase their corporate social responsibility best practices and effort, should be pursued and investigated.  Working with other HRM organizations which transcend any one company, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Black Business Initiative, the Metro United Way and the post-secondary educational institutions, the Council would also seek to foster further development of CSR resources and information awareness building and training opportunities for companies in the region.

    Part of the mandate/mission for the Council may be to assist companies to examine the opportunities that may be opened by the proposed strategic management approach to corporate social responsibility and to assist companies in applying the proposed corporate social responsibility assessment and planning model to their situation.  The council could work with smaller companies to assist them in implementing a more simplified model of corporate social responsibility which, like a “plug and play” assists them to move closer to best practices and increase their efforts in social and economic inclusion.  For example, this would include communicating and building awareness for the various types of social and economic inclusion activities outlined in the Report [ go to http://www.venturepartner.ca/Social and Economic Inclusion/SEI Practices.html ]

    Furthermore, as a facilitation resource to the business community, the Council can act as a third party benchmark researcher and collect confidential corporate social responsibility data from companies which enables local benchmarking.  The Council could also play a role to extend this learning to the other provincial Regional Development Authorities [RDAs].  In addition, the council could fulfill the role of an information and facilitator “broker” to work towards both inter-company and multi-stakeholder collaboration on larger community social development and social and economic inclusion needs and initiatives.

    A planning team should be constituted by the Greater Halifax Partnership and their stakeholders, with the terms of reference to develop and mobilize support for this concept as well as a funding recommendation including a business plan, which outlines the mission/mandate and proposed strategic initiatives of the CSR Council.  This should also include the development of a communication strategy to communicate the findings of this report across a variety of businesses venue opportunities starting in the Fall of 2005 – such as at the Building Our Future luncheon series run by the Greater Halifax Partnership – and the further development of the current corporate social responsibility social and economic inclusion website as dynamic resource for best practices and case examples.

    The development of an HRM Test / Demonstration Model.  The test would assess the results and outcomes achieved from companies adopting a strategic management and an integrated approach to corporate social responsibility and to assess the benefits of benchmarking and moving towards best practices.  This addresses the evidence raised by this research regarding the key issues of the lack of benchmarking, measurement and assessment and the recognition by many businesses that these are key requirements to enable improvements in their corporate social responsibility efforts.  This initiative could be part of the HRM CSR council’s area of responsibility.  ACOA, HRSDC, the Nova Scotia Office of Economic Development and the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services should be approached to support this initiative for a pilot/demonstration test case which can be used to communicate lessons learned and results attained to other federal and provincial departments concerned with social development and environmental issues and other geographical areas.  The project could also explore the potential linkages to many of the labour force shortage issues in HRM and how to assist low income, unemployed and underemployed persons and families out of the cycle of poverty.

      Address community, social and economic development needs better through the fostering of a multi-stakeholder/sectoral strategy for corporate social responsibility and social and economic inclusion.  As part of HRM Test /Demonstration Model, the Council would seek to address and contribute to community social and economic community needs through fostering a multi-stakeholder/sectoral strategy and consultation within the HRM area in which community NGOs, businesses, citizens, government, and community educational institutions can be mobilized towards increasing social and economic inclusion.  This may also provide opportunities to improve fundraising for the smaller NGO’s.  The Council, perhaps working with the Metro United Way , could play an important information broker role in helping local NGOs coordinate their fund raising activities.

        Include corporate social responsibility as part of ACOA’s and the Province’s assessment and application process for funding support.  ACOA and the Province, through the Department of Economic Development and Nova Scotia Business Inc., should investigate the opportunity to ask companies that seek investment or loan funding or tax credit support from ACOA or the Province for business expansion or to locate their company’s operations in Nova Scotia to outline their corporate social responsibility policies and practices and to indicate the social impact of their proposals.  A simple template can be added to the application documentation to assist companies to prepare such an outline.  In the case of small owner/operated companies, a less rigorous and more simplified version could be developed.  The key to understanding the vision for this type of initiative is not look at this as yet another bureaucratic filing requirement which significantly adds to the burden of documentation in the funding application process, but rather as a valued and important determinant in the decision making process for providing funding support.  It all depends on how ACOA or the Province chooses to creatively view this type of initiative; as yet more unnecessary and unimportant paperwork which US states and other regions of Canada do not ask prospective investors for, or as an opportunity to encourage and foster corporate social responsibility in the companies that they are encouraging to establish themselves in our communities in Atlantic Canada.  The starting point for this type of initiative could be as simple as asking the applicant to attach a copy of their annual corporate social responsibility report [or to indicated if they have such a report included within their Annual Report] and ask for a voluntary comment on their corporate social responsibility policy.  And the potential investing company can also choose to view the opportunity to communicate their social development vision as something they want to do and value.  Indeed, from all the evidence of this report, many companies would want such an opportunity and the author also thinks that a demonstrated strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and community social development by the applicant could only serve to significantly enhance their application.