Panelists at a seminar on corporate social responsibility agreed that although assistance by companies to communities within which they operated was voluntary, it was a necessary balancing act in sustaining a very good environment for businesses to thrive.
They argued that since companies did not exist in isolation such little contributions made to better the lives of the people in the communities become a very good yardstick for measuring the level of understanding and acceptance wielded by the companies.
The panelists, however, held that contributions made by the companies should be seen as a shared responsibility by the various stakeholders in the communities so as not to create a situation where communities permanently depended on the companies for assistance.
The seminar held on the theme: “Corporate Social Responsibility –It's everybody's Business,” was organised under the auspices of the High Commission of Canada, the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration and the Canadian Business Association Ghana.
Ms Elisabeth Korasare, Communication and Community Relations Officer of the Alcan/Ghana Bauxite Company said the philanthropic nature of social responsibility usually kept communities highly dependent on the company.
She said to be able to break this dependency syndrome companies needed to shift from the donor approach by engaging in dialogue with various stakeholders in the communities to tackle the issues in a broader way.
According to her the pitfalls of the past in which decisions on social corporate responsibility were taken in the board room by Chief Executives and Board members by reaching consensus with community members, social workers and government.
This, she said would also ensure the duplication of projects by leveraging with both local and foreign agencies.
Dr Chris Anderson, Director External Affairs, Africa and Europe Newmont said it was high time companies knew that they would not succeed in their enterprise without paying attention to corporate social responsibility.
He said the engagement with the communities must be consistent, within the cultural set up and responsible.
Mr Prince Kofi Amoabeng, Chief Executive Officer, Unique Trust Financial Services Ltd said it was important for companies to know that they were not operating in isolation.