Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year's wishes for corporate social responsibility

From the airplane up there, Manila was an attractive sight with all the Christmas lights glowing, blinking, dancing. It was even brighter than Singapore because their Christmas lights were concentrated only along Orchard and Scotts Roads. We should declare a year-round Christmas celebration!

Even our Baranggay 596 which is usually dim and even dark in the interior parts was awash with gorgeous lights along the streets on individual resident's house fa├žade. But starting January 2nd, most lights have gone dead and it looks like an old, tired community again.

Instead of simply packing some plastic toys and junk food in a grocery bag and giving them away to "poor" children or some patients in a public hospital, companies could do more. Anyways, their employees who do this "job" aren't really into it. So, I am knocking on business' social conscience and I have this wish list of significant contributions towards peaceful and happy communities.

  • Sponsor more values and skills training programs for our police officers and firefighters. Let us share with them our corporate expertise on management and customer service. Let us show them we care so they would also care for us. Well-informed law enforcers make happy and conscientious peacekeepers.
  • Adopt a street. Do everything to make your street clean, safe and good-looking in cooperation with those who live or do business along them. Especially, give back sidewalks to pedestrians.
  • Pay appropriate taxes and sponsor prayer meetings that these taxes will be spent by our political leaders properly.
  • Help our museums build mobile museums. People don't bother to go to museums, much more pay the entrance. The last time some professionals I know have been to a museum was during their elementary school-sponsored field trip or more recently when they had Balikbayan relatives or friends who are on culture trip.
  • Donate books to our local public libraries. In Manila, we have the Kamaynilaan in City Hall and its many satellite libraries all over the city. They look like museums because their buildings and books are mostly old, dilapidated ones. My short stint at Kamaynilaan was one rewarding part of my life—I've read some really old, rare volumes there.
  • Sponsor reading sessions for children in your community.
  • As part of your employee training, make them do a walking tour of Manila, particularly the Walled City and a boat ride along the Pasig River. I assure you, there are no foul odors there. It's like looking at Metro Manila from a different view, truly educational and wakes up your sense of citizenship.
  • Sponsor cultural shows like folk singing, folk dancing, Balagtasan and sarsuelas in your community. People would rather buy food than pay to watch such shows. Let's propagate our cultural traditions.
  • Declare a total smoking ban and make your business premises smoke-free. Don't even allocate a "cancer" section in any area of your building or parking lot.
  • Make it a rule for your employees to take care of their individual carbon emission. For example, impose a punishment for those who make loud noises in the workplace or those who own cars that emit foul smoke and odor. The December issue of Reader's Digest has an interesting article on how noisy our environment has become and how we are all becoming deaf.
  • Sponsor a "garage" sale among your employees and make them sell their unused, slightly used, still useful things. Some people's garbage is another one's treasure. Some unsold ones could be donated to charitable organizations who could use them, e.g. Pro-Life, etc. Let us promote recycling.
  • Rock the boat. Declare a day or week when you turn upside down your business ideas, concepts, traditions, practices –give them a strong, bold shake. Don't be surprised to find some bright ideas in its nooks and crannies. Let us promote creativity and innovation.

These will do for now. Actually many companies already do a number of these kind of projects. However, I hope that once they do it, they make it a regular life-long commitment and not just one time during Christmas.

Happy New Year. Keep your Christmas lights on.


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