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The standards for businesses are steadily being raised as consumers make more of their decisions based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Today, companies, in turn, are fueling their efforts to meet customer expectations — creating a positive cycle of improvement in the economy.

CSR is not ‘alien’ to the Philippines as it is rooted in its culture, the bayanihan. This influenced the way Filipinos purchase goods and services, according to a study by Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility in 2015 indicating that rather than thinking solely about the product, the significant impact on their buying decision has never been more about broader values, company behavior and ethics.

In 2020, a total of 209 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 6137, or the proposed Corporate Social Responsibility Act, while no one voted against it nor abstained. The bill seeks to encourage all domestic and foreign business organizations, established and operating under Philippine laws, to observe corporate social responsibility in the operations of their businesses in the country.

CSR, also known as corporate citizenship, is a thoughtful and practical way to give back to society and also means doing no harm to the communities and locations where companies operate, including not polluting the environment, neither selling unsafe products nor mistreating employees. Most often, a company will execute a combination of internal and external CSR strategies for a more holistic philanthropic approach.

Internal CSR strategies aim to reinvest in internal stakeholders like the employees by seeking to improve the work environment, expand benefits, and satisfy work-life needs. When organizations implement best practices internally, employees are more likely to engage in cooperative behaviors toward their coworkers and the organization.

External CSR focuses on those who are considered external stakeholders, including society, the environment, and local community members, and aims to support the improvement of any of the aforementioned entities, whether it’s establishing sustainability protocols or donating funds to charities. Involving stakeholders in CSR activities will ultimately lead to a positive outlook towards the product or service in the face of the social causes they care about.

On the other hand, ignoring CSR comes with greater costs — having a poor reputation for social and environmental impact can damage the profitability and success of a business. In the last decade, companies have been held to account for failures of transparency on environmental and social issues. Whereas, a good CSR practice would be but a way of preserving the status quo and of lending a brand ‘the aura of morality’.

In the Philippines, CSR’s early adopters are from staunch business networks like the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) who has been implementing CSR projects since 2009.

MPIC is a leading publicly listed investment management and infrastructure holding company with a diverse set of assets held through operating companies in transportation, energy, logistics, real estate and healthcare that help to form the backbone of the Philippine economy and society.

Recently, MPIC won big at the 11th Asian Excellence Awards, earning six coveted recognitions for corporate governance, investor relations, and corporate social responsibility. This recognition is a testament to MPIC’s efforts to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, and 17 Partnerships for the Goals. 

The MPIC’s CSR arm, MPI Foundation’s (MPIF) strategic programs have evolved throughout its 13 years of existence, now geared towards four fronts of social infrastructure: Education, Environment, Economic Empowerment, and Calamity Response & Relief Operations.

MPIC envisions to create holistically beneficial impact among its businesses, its employees, its stakeholders, and the environment, going beyond the interests of its firms by embracing responsibility for its companies’ actions and mindfully integrating CSR into its business model. — Allyana A. Almonte