1) Finish pre-internship work
2) Work on honors thesis
3) Get driver’s license
4) Go rock climbing
5) Take a martial art class
6) Take the real estate licensing course
6) Learn the guitar
Tourist By vexed&confused
During the last day of the learning journey in Malaysia, we visited two large corporations, Scomi Group, which was a global technology enterprise, and Sime Darby, which was a palm oil plantation company. Both companies had a well-developed CSR program that focused on education, environmental protection, and career development on a domestic and international scale. While listening to the presentations at the Scomi and Sime Darby office, I felt a sense of a close integration between the identity of the firm and its CSR program. Both companies combined their operations strategy with CSR objectives, making CSR an essential part of their value proposition. For example, Scomi combined its green initiatives with its oil drilling process; Scomi was not only making a profit, but it was also protecting the environment. Furthermore, both companies aimed to benefit the society by not only creating job opportunities for the local people, but also providing all the training necessary for them to succeed. It is evident that social responsibility in Malaysia is about building a foundation for a better future.
Another characteristic of CSR in Malaysia is forming a strategic alliance and partnership. When the Malaysian companies enter the international markets, they communicate and work with the local government to develop a CSR program that meets the specific needs of the region. By forming a friendly relationship with the government, the companies are able to benefit the lives of the people, penetrate to the foreign market, and gain market shares. This win-win proposition illustrates the success of many Malaysian companies at expanding internationally. However, the Malaysian companies have an exit strategy for their CSR programs in foreign countries; they help to build the foundation of the social responsibility program but they do not control the program. Once the program can sustainable itself, the company leaves and works on other projects.
Lastly, CSR in Malaysia is defined by its continuous improvement. Everything three months, the company identifies areas of improvement and evaluates the effectiveness of its CSR program. A regular performance evaluation allows the company to keep up with the pace of the fast changing environment and make sure that their corporate social investment creates values and generates returns.
Visiting the International Center for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) and Petronas headquarter, I continued to explore social responsibility from the perspectives of both academic institutions and corporations.
At INCEIF, the speaker illustrated the difference between commercial banking and Islamic banking, which has become a popular finance options for many borrowers due to its unique values and services. Different from conventional banks, Islamic banks not only prohibit charging clients interest rates, but also share profits and risks with the clients, providing more securities and stability. In terms of social responsibility, Islamic banks work closely with their clients to make sure that clients’ money are not just saved with the deterioration of value overtime, but are put into good use to assist others in the society. In addition, Islamic banks ensure that clients are not financing for the sake of financing. Playing a supporting role in the clients’ financial situation, Islamic banks act not as a lender, but as a strategic partner who help raise capital for specific purposes. Clients who wish to finance through an Islamic bank are required to follow the rules and regulations of the bank. The clients also need to provide a description of the project they are working on and the breakdown of the expenses to ensure that the activity is safe, feasible, profitable, and meaningful. Although clients must meet specific qualifications to receive financing, they benefit from the personalized attention, care and risk management that the Islamic bank provides. By building a strong connectivity between clients and other relevant sectors, Islamic banks are operating in a socially responsible manner, in which they truly care for the financial well-being of the clients. It is evident that social responsibility in Malaysia is about sharing, building relationships, and striving for mutual benefits, which are characteristics of utilitarianism.
After visiting the INCEIF, we arrived at the Petronas Twin Tower where I learned about the company’s CSR program. Petronas’ CSR has two components: a business component, which refers to contribution to the nation and government in forms of tax, oil royalty and special dividend, and a social component, which focuses on education and capacity building, and environmental conservation. It is interesting that CSR is a major part of Petronas’ mission statement and value proposition. One of Petronas’ core values was cohesiveness, which refers to united in purpose and fellowship. This core value reflects the ethical framework of utilitarianism and the ideal of “Peduli.” It is clear that the objective of the CSR program is to contribute to the well-being of the people. By conducting its business in a socially responsible and holistic manner, the company would ensure continuous growth and success for the benefit of both the present and future generation. However, the presenter explained that profit was primary and CSR program was secondary; there needed to be a healthy balance between the return to the shareholders and return to the society since CSR program implementation required capital.
The speaker introduced to me the concept of corporate social investments (CSI), which included investments that did not directly relate to the company’s daily operations. The Petronas speaker drew a clear distinction between philanthropy and CSI. While philanthropy creates short-term impact, CSI attempts to make a sustainable, long-term change. As the speaker stated, CSI is something the company does additionally to go beyond the expectation and give back to the nation. For example, one of Petronas’ corporate social investments was Program Sentuhan Harapan, which aimed to provide temporary relief through food aid programs and opportunity to improve livelihood through skill trainings programs. It is evident that social responsibility is not about relieving short-term pain, but it is about making long-term changes through education, empowerment and training; as the speaker stated, the company’s CSR program “does not give the people fish, but it teaches them how to fish.”
The Babson and Unirazak team visited the Karangkraf headquarter to present our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects to the community. From selling apples, starting an anti-corruption campaign to planting trees, we witnessed a variety of CSR initiatives, which further reinforced our understanding of the ethical frameworks in Malaysia. Throughout the day, we were exposed to the concept of “Peduli,” which was a Malaysian word for “care.” Peduli plays an important role in defining social responsibility in Malaysia as it reflects many corporations and organizations’ core values. Peduli not only means caring for the people and the environment, but also means caring for the society in a long-term. When evaluating the effectiveness of a CSR project, sustainability and impact on the community are important metrics of success. The CSR project is considered successful if it is able to sustain itself in a long-term. Any CSR initiatives with a short-term goal lack real social values and are not be perceive as socially responsible. In addition, the CSR project should not only positively affect the lives of a few individuals, but the broader community as a whole. Through the process of engaging and implementing CSR strategies, the participants are expected to transform into global citizens, who attempt to benefit and bring positive changes to the global community. Listening to the judges’ questions and feedback on different CSR projects, another critical aspect of social responsibility is community building. CSR projects should educate, empower and encourage everyone in the community to participate and act towards a greater cause. People should be accountable and responsible for their own behaviors because they are considered an influential part of a society. The CSR competition in Karangkraf served as a great learning lesson as it provided me with the opportunity to witness the power of unity. I learned that no one can accomplish everything alone. In order to be a socially responsible individual, one must genuinely care for others, which is represented by the word “Peduli.”
The Babson and Unirazak team spent the second day planting trees with the students from Peduli Alam. As we continued our corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, we have identified our project objectives, which included educating the students about the importance of environmental protection, encouraging two-way communication and learning, and creating a sustainable legacy of tree planting in the community. Through the CSR project, we hoped to increase the awareness of environmental problems among the students, transforming them into agents of positive changes.
During the second day, I was able to continue my journey of learning about CSR in Malaysia through my interaction with the Unirazak students; I learned more about the history of CSR. Although some companies have CSR programs which date back many years, it is in recent years that the level of CSR-awareness and activity has spurred in Malaysia. The Unirazak project leader illustrated that the CSR concept is used to describe actions that go beyond philanthropy or compliance with applicable laws. CSR describes the activities that safeguard the environment, communities, employees, shareholders and other affected parties’ interests as an integral part of the operation, to the extent that it lays the foundation for long-term, sustainable value creation. Feasibility, sustainability and innovation are important components of CSR as they are considered as typical metrics of success. A successful CSR project not only has to be feasible for implementation and execution, but it also needs to be able to make a long-term positive impact in the community. Lastly, based on the ethical framework, CSR in Malaysia tend to focus more on the ideal of consequence, as each individual contribute and work towards a greater cause of the community; the end result of the CSR project is to benefit the community rather than individuals.