Here are the questions asked to CORE Platform by Orizzont journalist, Mr Matthew Charles Zammit
1) Your organisation is entitled CORE, Corporate Citizenship for Responsible Enterprises. Is Corporate Social Responsibility a force of good in Maltese society, or is it just fancy
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is definitely not fancy nomenclature, but is an essential part of good governance and ethical behaviour. Thus, CSR is a force of good in our society and should be supported and encouraged.
2) Does CSR have the potential capacity to replace or supplement several services offered presently by the Government (Infrastructure, Charity and Social Solidarity etc. Etc.)? Or is such a notion too over-reaching?
Rather than replace present services, CSR should enhance them. It can actually add to what is already provided and help local communities in a direct, hands-on, and dynamic way.
3) Does CSR play a major rule in Charity giving here in Malta? Are these two notions combined, or is there a distinct point of differentiation between them?
It is important to keep in mind that CSR is not a charity. This is, in fact, one of the biggest misconceptions concerning the subject. Corporate Social Responsibility is connecting with one’s customers as well as locality to enhance the business ethos. An example here would be a company that manufactures and sells toys. The customers will be the children. Therefore, in this case, the business, as part of its CSR strategy, may work towards helping children. On this, it is ideal to empower one’s employees so that they can become part of the CSR policy. The latter has to be a living policy within everybody in the company or business and must be, thus, embraced by all.
4) Many businesses and commentators, including Mr Roderick Agius in his thesis, commented that the notion of CSR in Malta is still in its infancy. Do you agree with such a statement, and what can be done to further promote further CSR in Maltese society?
Mr Agius’ statement is correct to a certain degree. A lot has been, and is being, done with regards to CSR in Malta, however, the problem is that it is not co-ordinated. Most of the larger companies have esither a CSR policy already in place or a foundation for one. Through a co-ordinated effort, and an effective National Action Plan for CSR in Malta, the concept of CSR will grow and become more ingrained in our businesses. Moreover, this would also help in increasing the effectiveness of CSR activities that are already being done.
CORE Platform is acting as the bridge between NGOs, businesses, and local communities. In fact we are, at present, working on a number of CSR projects that link all three together. This is a way for CSR to be carried out in a co-ordinated manner in Malta.
5) Dr Mark Harwood, Director and Senior Lecturer at the Institute of European Studies in the University of Malta, asked in an article whether the notion of CSR in a small country such as Malta is “a luxury companies can ill afford?” What’s your answer to such a question?
Small and medium-sized companies are the backbone of our economy. Some SMEs actually already do some CSR, even if they do not realise it. In response to Dr Harwood’s question, it has to be said that CSR has nothing to do with large or small companies. CSR can come in many forms and can be implemented by any type of business. One can also say that smaller companies might actually have an advantage as it will be easier for them to co-ordinate and implement CSR projects. Speaking from experience, during meetings, workshops, and seminars that we organised or attended, we learnt that there are a number of best practices already engaged in CSR activities or projects. All these best practices are small companies. These CSR activities range from apprenticeships, mentoring and tutoring to engagement in small local projects.
6) What are the main aims and principles behind CORE? How did your organisation come into existence?
It was on the initiative of Her Excellency, the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, that a task force made up of business institutions and non-governmental entities was set up. This eventually led to the creation of CORE Platform, the national platform on CSR in Malta, in September 2015.
CORE Platform, which is under the patronage of Her Excellency, is made up of the business institutions in the country, namely the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry; the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA); the Malta Employers' Association (MEA); the Malta Business Bureau (MBB); the General Retailers and Traders Union (GRTU); and SOS Malta, which is representing the NGOs.
We are also a member of CSR Europe, the strong European CSR lobby and work within them as country representative of Malta on European projects, such as EUTalent and Pact for Youth. We were very honoured to have CSR Europe Vice President Celia Moore in Malta for our first CSR day on the 16th of June 2017, which was celebrated together with the Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society’s 3rd anniversary.
In order to create an action plan for CSR, CORE Platform has held meetings with a vast number of stakeholders, including SMEs, large companies and corporations, NGOs, government ministries and entities, as well as local councils. As priorities, the following actions and objectives were established:
- To encourage small and medium size businesses to take part in CSR activities, mainly in their localities;
- To create with local councils a priority task to be handled, such as the maintenance of playgrounds;
- To take part in European CSR-related projects;
- To take part in local projects with NGOs, local communities, and businesses;
- To create CSR Awards.
7) How many companies are currently engaged in some sort of CSR (both in terms of single-initiative or multiple-initative platforms)? And what’s the amount of money being donated/allocated by said companies per year?
Unfortunately, we cannot at present give exact details of how many companies or what amounts are being allocated, as it is not always money but rather goods, time of employees and other initiatives which also are part of CSR activities.
8) Who are the main recipients of such CSR-related activities? Are they NGO’s, Government-related organisations, private companies or individuals? Can you maybe estimate how many parties are currently enjoying benefits related to CSR?
The main recipients are NGOs and, through them individuals or direct individuals, youth organisations and other voluntary set ups working for the benefits of the community or local councils. At the moment, Government and private organisations are not the main recipients. Unfortunately, as stated above we do not have statistics and are therefore not in a position to give exact numbers.