In today’s world, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is taking high priority position on the global corporate agenda. The relations between business, state and society are changing and media is envisioned as the main driver and an inseparable player in building the capacity of business and government to deliver better results to the sustainable development of society.
A company’s CSR initiative reflects its commitment to be accountable to everyone who is indirectly or directly affected by its activities and work. SAMAA TV, a leading Urdu news channel of Pakistan has a solid CSR programme. In line with its Mission to improve the socio-economic development of the nation and bring value to the viewers and stakeholders, it continues to reach out to the vulnerable communities in the country and create more awareness about social, political and economic issues in Pakistan.
SAMAA is going beyond reporting on “naming and shaming” and is more projective, playing a true partnership role towards well-being of the society. It aims to reinforce transparency and accountability of the key players of society through highlighting socio-economic issues.
SAMAA realizes that strengthening and developing human resource is a key aspect for mutual success and wellbeing of the corporation and its stakeholders. As a responsible corporate citizen, they have launched scholarship programmes for students seeking a Masters in Mass Communication, offered at all public sector universities in Pakistan. The main aim of the scholarship is to aid those who eagerly seek a higher level of education but lack the financial resources. After completion of their Masters those students who maintain a cumulative grade point average higher than 3.0 will be offered a one year contract with SAMAA TV with salaries and perks at par with industry standards.
Through this initiative SAMAA is not only engaging its stakeholders, but improving labour standards, and creating goodwill whilst benefiting members of the community. The benefits of this scholarship to SAMAA are that it is effectively creating a highly trained, extremely capable and very loyal work force that will be extremely productive for SAMAA and contribute greatly to the company’s future success. In developing countries such as Pakistan, where a lack of basic amenities has caused a total lapse in the healthcare sector, SAMAA is playing a crucial role in reaching those who otherwise would be forgotten. SAMAA TV has established a polio control cell aimed at loca-ting children by providing an easily accessible point of contact for parents whose homes for some reason or the other were not visited by field teams with vaccinations. Due to this noble effort on the part of SAMAA, 27,000 children who had not received the polio vaccine were given the shots. SAMAA’s goal in establishing the polio control cell is to eradicate Polio from Pakistan.
Through this initiative SAMAA is addressing two very important CSR issues: community relations and human rights. Although there is no tangible benefit to SAMAA through this initiative the amount of goodwill generated by such programmes is impossible to calculate.
Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives
Problems faced by the developed and developing countries in the area of welfare services demand radically different approaches. Whereas, the developed countries are putting the responsibility primarily on the government, the developing countries are still struggling to mobilize their own resources. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs are now finding what is not working and solving the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.
Looking for innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems, SAMAA has launched initiatives aiming at creating more awareness on the issues of the vulnerable communities in Pakistan. A social entrepreneurship programme with the Edhi Foundation, which is one of the leading social entrepreneurial organizations in Pakistan, is formed to jointly work towards creating awareness of the social issues prevailing in the country.
Believing in a society which is equal to all, SAMAA TV has also established a joint partnership with local non-profit organization STEP to jointly work towards promoting issues for disabled people in Pakistan and empower them to become an integrated part of the work force through provision of skill development trainings and carrying out workshops with leading media organizations to sensitize the media on issues and make them a positive player for the cause.
Although it is already playing an admirable role as a corporate citizen, SAMAA must address some basic key issues while modifying their CSR initiative. The most obvious of these would be environmental management. Currently SAMAA is not visibly doing anything in terms of environmental management.
Environmental management is probably the easiest part of CSR. One way that SAMAA can reduce its impact on the environment is by converting all company transportation and electricity generation equipment to environment friendly fuels such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). CNG kits are readily available all across Pakistan as is CNG.? Almost all common vehicles can be converted to CNG. Not only is CNG a green fuel but it is a well known fact that CNG is much cheaper in comparison to its petroleum based counterparts.
Since electricity shortages are a major problem in Pakistan. SAMAA would do well to avoid the use of large diesel powered electricity generating sets. A better alternative would be Gas generators which again are not only ‘greener’ than diesel generators but are also again more fuel efficient and in most cases cheaper in terms of cost of fuel. Not only does the use of natural gas reduce pollution and cuts costs, SAMAA will also be helping in reducing Pakistan’s dependency on oil imports and encourage further natural gas exploration in the country which will bring development to rural areas as well as jobs for Pakistanis while conserving our dwindling reserves.
A Future Full of Promise
SAMAA has established its CSR initiative as a mainstream social concept because it has the capability to reach and engage its broad spectrum of stakeholders. The video media, being the mosteasily accessible channel of information enables SAMAA to have a mutually beneficial CSR programme. Besides the above mentioned initiatives SAMAA is actively playing its role as a corporate citizen through several educational, healthcare and community outreach programmes. It is key to remember that CSR is not charity; it is in essence the creation of a mutually beneficial relationship between a corporation and its stakeholders that results in not only benefiting those around the company but increases profitability.
The media, being the most recognizable channel of information dissemination has a key role in helping the masses understand CSR, create more awareness on the socio-economic issues in Pakistan and put the national issues on the public agenda.
With a CSR programme integrated with its business activities and model, Samaa continues to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Pakistan, and engage key stakeholders to jointly work towards the positive development of our nation.