CSR vs. Charity (local case)

After a year of coming back to the country, I`m sharing personal observations about general corporate social responsibility (CSR) environment in the country. Now several corporate figures, regulatory bodies, might doubt hearing corporate social responsibility has nothing or very small-scale to do with charity. And the good news Azerbaijan is not the only country in the world having this view. The majority of the countries are in the same boat. To figure it out, let`s review first what CSR is not:

  • Buying furniture, computers, microbuses, and refurbishing
  • Giving merit scholarships to students
  • Funding medical treatment of individuals

The list can be prolonged, but long story short – the funds or goods are allocated for the individual needs and charitable giving without follow up are not at all CSR strategy.

Today corporate social responsibility means much beyond essential charitable activities of the past. It is not solely about making a donation towards good causes but instead, it is an all-year-round responsibility that requires companies switch to serve the community (including internal), its business, workers, customers, and other related stakeholders. CSR should interact with corporate values, culture and the company’s strategy to achieve its future sustainability. It is likely more of “people were starving in the past, people are starving at present, but in lieu of handing out them a bread for today, teach them or help them to eradicate poverty.”

A few weeks ago, the conversation with a fellow lead to the topic of how a big holding failed because of advancing in wrong organizational behavior concept. Later long proper investigation displayed reason of cataclysm deriving from more internal disintegration rather than financial breakdown.

The scale of a company is defined not only by the input but also by its butterfly effect: the impact we make to the world in which we operate, and the contribution we make to continuous professional development, as noted above. It is an ambitious vision that CSR in its modern sense demands a business to engage responsibly taking into account their economic, social and environmental impacts, and to act to address their key sustainable continuous development challenges. In the case where the corporate struggling with organizational behavior, charity can be pointed out as part of the big picture while it would be less important for the long ride strategy.

No doubt that today there are several definitions of CSR worldwide but nowadays they all associate to how business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it functions and maximizes cost reduction. Thinking about how organizations evolve, how adaptation enables “survival of the fittest” is an analogy that has helped business strategists. Increasingly, it is becoming important to measure success through working in partnerships with different stakeholders. Charity can be an important part of CSR, which signifies a corporation’s contribution to the community where it does business.

One source argues dimension of CSR begins where the law ends. This ties down with the notion of citizenship. A good citizen is not merely someone who conducts his or her life without breaking the laws. It is someone who contributes to society in a beneficial way and avoids doing harm. Businesses can be good citizens, provided that they relate ethically to other citizens – and particularly to their stakeholders.

Thanks to the newbie startups coming to the national stage and their origins of changing the game, a fresh glimpse of air has been felt in the existing environment.Startups are diving into for counseling in creating a social responsibility plan and dealing with the emerging issues that engage employees in meaningful causes and still responsible for business practices in operations.

Another concern is Millennials` movement from the country to Multinational Corporations (MNCs) with stronger values. Millennials in one survey also assume businesses are behaving in an increasingly responsible manner. On balance, Millennials still suppose that businesses focus on their own agendas. If no progress will be made in local businesses, not only Millennials` foot will be out of the door, but Generation Y will be part of expatriation movement too.

CSR doc
Deloitte 2016 survey

Notwithstanding, where the problems exist, there is a tremendous opportunity and the other side of coin foresees there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Lean strategy, unity around strong values, full interaction with a different section of stakeholders and the transparent environment can be good for the success to knock the door of corporates.

Without comparing it back to Swiss corporate standards, (although reality does sound as an adjustment from Ferrari to Zaaparozhes), CSR is still going to be figured out by many. However, if corporates efforts are towards sustainable businesses, proper CSR will lead the company to innovation and social impact beyond their glossy reports. In order to form conventional CSR strategy at the local level, there is a need for unique regulation to be set off, improvement and measurement of sustainable performance, fostering awareness, learning, and cooperation.


Gunay Mukhtarova

Please raise your voice if a company you work for carrying different values apart from charity. Share your opinion and let`s have a discussion!

Read other articles here.

Technology vs. SDGs

Have you thought of tech start-ups as a way to reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

In both answers, this is worth to go through. Current development in ICT presents evidence that overlaps with the goals of sustainable development 2030 as below:

  • Food and Agriculture (related to SDGs #1, #2, #3, #12, #13, and #15);
  • Energy and climate (related to SDGs #13, #12, #7);
  • Smart, sustainable communities (related to SDGs #11, #9, #12, #13, #7, #6);
  • Public health (related to SDGs #11, #9, #12, #13, #7, #6)

Digital technology provides the world for decoupling growth in carbon emissions from economic growth for the first time in history. “Technology is the game changer in sustainable development. Connectivity is essential to meet the SDGs”- says Luis Neves, Executive Vice President, Deutsche Telekom. He challenged global leaders to invest in technology solutions the same way the world has invested and continues to support the fossil fuel industry.

Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) is key to progress for further sustainable economic models. Finding opportunities to collaborate and apply technology in disruptive and innovative ways lead up advance sustainability.

Simultaneously applying digital technologies towards increasingly purpose-driven efforts to address the world’s toughest challenges related to energy, food, health, education, infrastructure, transportation.

According to GESI research, digital solutions will have an immense and significant positive impact on each of the three correlated dimensions of development covered by the SDGs: improving people’s quality of life, boosting equitable growth and protecting the environment. Examples include the projection by 2030:

  • An estimated 720,000 human lives could be protected from road traffic accidents through linked cars.
  • 1.6 billion people could be linked to e-health services in 2030, completely improving access to health and stepping closer to universal health insurance.
  • Delivering on broadband expansion could protect 12% of GDP in developing countries
  • Digital solutions could provide sustainable industrialization in the least developed countries and developing regions by holding 330 trillion liters of water and the equivalent of 25 billion barrels of oil per year, a reduction of 70 percent from today`s levels.

Solution #1: Pillaring food production and circulation

Energy, water, fertilizer, and chemicals are all substantially decreased – in some cases by well over 50% – while production yields skyrocket. The business case for IoT “agtech” solutions lives up. The challenge is to create awareness for decent potential. Partnerships worldwide should tighten up for these essentials.

Solution #2: Boosting energy and climate solutions

IoT industry is risk-averse and does not favor change quickly. IoT and digital solutions create opportunities to improve rather than out place the industry’s business model, potentially enormous cost savings. Technologies can also optimize energy use to minimize the need to resort to more carbon intensive fossil fuel-based peak generation capacity.

Solution #3: Smart, sustainable communities

Technology solutions exist to develop both generate and digital infrastructures that build cities more sustainable. Each focused its presentation on the obstacles to surmount – even when business cases exist – in applying digital solutions at scale for cities. At the same time, public-private partnerships are inevitable component making the process run smoothly.

Solution #4: Evolving public health

Digital solutions fasten access to different disease diagnostics and analyze them for patient risks at scale.The range of examples of digital solutions for health includes water quality and early diagnose of workers at the factories.


Using models, cases, and the visionary partnerships can apply the SDGs breaking technologies. The challenge is to reach SDGs by 2030. So far 13 years left…The world has a great potential and it needs to demonstrate a transformational capacity for the good and accelerates partnerships. Another thing 2017 is the year where the world reached overusing its natural resources and already we are at the time of utilizing the future generation`s storage capacity. Relying on the speed of technology and collaboration could still light up all the way. In this sense, startups are essential drivers of a global ecosystem seeking to build solutions that are effective, scalable, and economically sustainable.

Author: Gunay Mukhtarova

Young Champions

To the attention of young people between the ages of 18-30!
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has launched the Young Campions of the Earth global competition for talented people that can showcase technological inventions and innovative business models that improve our planet’s health.Six winners will receive $15,000 each to help bring their big ideas to life. More than just a prize-giving scheme, the winners will also have a unique opportunity to meet with noteworthy environmental experts and policymakers at UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi and UN General Assembly in New York.

We encourage all potential young people out there to apply!

The application period for this year’s competition closes on 18th June. Full details and the application form are available on: www.unep.org/youngchampions

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established by the UN General in 1972, enabling cooperation of countries and international organizations towards addressing global, regional and national concerns in the field of environmental protection and sustainable development. e8a63295-634f-4a9b-851b-4290feb9cbd6