The PR divisions of corporates often mouth off about how well they're doing on the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) front. It's interesting that in South Africa we've used yet another euphemism. It used to be Corporate Social Responsibility, now it's 'investment' - in order to make it look and sound as though the PR people will get a return for the companies they're punting.
This week Novartis in South Africa hosted a superb function, organised by Dr. Tobeka Boltina (Director: Public Affairs and Communications) and her team, featuring a presentation by University of Basel Sociology Professor Klaus. M. Leisinger - pictured.
It's pronounced as in 'wise' and with a hard g as in 'get'. He spoke on behalf of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development of which he is President and CEO.
In a fascinating, energetic and thought-provoking presentation, he re-emphasised the fact that CSR (responsibility, note) is not a negotiable or a nice to have. Rather, it's crucial in terms of the entity's future sustainability, its ability to attract the right talent and its ability to continue functioning effectively with all stakeholders.
Novartis (a client of mine for many years - but that's not the reason for the post) have walked their talk for all the time I've known them. They have executive staff members caring for babies in AIDS hospices, they distribute wheelchairs and re-furbished bicycles - apart from billions of dollars of free medication. Not as a fashion trend - it's the way they do things. It's exceptional and something from which we can all learn. Other corporates I know of, do a heck of a lot of spin around the issue, but the top teams continue their own privileged lives, well away from any such concerns or personal involvement.
So a big bravo!, when a corporate makes staff awareness of, and paricipation in such initiatives, a core value in the enterprise. If more companies did this, the world would immediately be a better place.