The passage of the Companies Bill 2073, which includes mandatory provisions around corporate social responsibility (CSR) for companies, will significantly boost the level of corporate engagement in Nepal’s socio-economic development. Around 1500 companies in Nepal will be eligible for mandatory CSR under this legislation and the total annual outlay on CSR based on the requirement to spend a minimum of 1% of their profits on the annual transaction of more than 15 crores.
The Bill clearly states that CSR should not be viewed as charity. The Bill provides a lot of flexibility on the types of activities that a company can undertake and support, encouraging companies to make CSR an integral part of business processes. This rule makes companies face making sizeable amounts of spending commitments to CSR, forcing them to rethink it from a ‘Strategic Fit’, especially in regard to the alignment with stakeholder needs and their own core competencies. This is where different social enterprise as well as NGOs in the value chain come into picture to support each for the common pursuit towards achieving higher equity and socio-economic development.
The Bill also talks about CSR initiatives being taken up in the project mode which are initiatives having specific objective, timeline, budget, monitoring and evaluation process and the governance structure in place that are passed during the annual general meeting and shared with stakeholders.
This has a strong potential to foster the culture across the organisation to start looking at their CSR projects with the same lens as of their internal business operations, impact and return on investment (from a social impact perspective) helping stakeholders achieve more together pulling efficiency triggers.
Case of a Career Prep
Career Prep Fellowship was launched to build the skills and competencies of graduating university females or recent graduates from less fortunate backgrounds for the workplace, specifically by enabling them to develop their professional and business skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving). The fellowship focuses on building 70% soft skills and 30% hard skills and supports them get jobs with the organisations here through facilitated and mentored session for six months.
Since the objective of this program was to build skills and competencies of young females and finally get them qualified and placed at various organisations as per the demand of the organisations, this initiative can also help organisations achieve gender inclusion at the workplace. Gender inclusion at workplace is currently a massive challenge for most in the hard skill driven organisations. They see this as an opportunity to contribute to the objective of buildingpotential employee at the same time working towards gender inclusion at the workplace as one of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Demystifying the process
with the purpose
Spontaneous decision by individuals or team with utmost clarity and good intentions are not sustainable unless the employee engagement is not integrated, agreed and passed from the top level management of the organisation and built in as a culture in the organisation. It becomes utmost important that top management and the Board recognises and acknowledges the benefit and impact it would create to the organisation as well as to the recipient beneficiaries and value chain actors. Career Prep team being fully aware of the criticality of Board and top management involvement, initially discussed the idea with the top management and board and jointly explored the value and impact it would create to all the stakeholders involved (Board, CEO, SBU Head, Team Lead, Teams, Individual Employees, Beneficiaries) while designing the curriculum, nominating the facilitators and mentors, jointly agreeing to what to measure and share with the organisation about the representative employees. It has been exciting to see how engaged and motivated each employee has been while given the opportunity to share their expertise beyond their daily routine job. They reflected being more valued, motivated and exemplified organisation values and having enhanced leadership and professional skills.
- Strategic fit: It has been observed and understood that it is absolutely critical that both the organisation (nomination organisation and recipient organisation) clearly articulates, understands and maps the interests, expertise, aspirations and motivation of nominated employees and team as they are critical in ensuring the quality of the program in managing and executing the full cycle of the program from design to delivery. Career Prep team rolled out an extensive survey form to understand the below mentioned components for deeper insights.
- The number of employees willing to participate
- The number of hours employees can dedicate and the organisation is willing to free them – considering it on duty.
- Their skills, expertise, motivations and aspirations and the change they wish to create through this program
- Customisation: Besides understanding the strategic fit – it should be well understood and factored that no single size fits all in any industry whether it is program design, program facilitation or knowledge dissemination. An eye for detail such as picking the candidate with highest amount of expertise in the full cycle management of the program and tailoring to the needs and demand of each individual is also crucial to the process.
In regard to the Career Prep Initiative, though we have set modules on what to be facilitated by whom, a lot of iterations and customisation goes into the design of the upcoming session as well as sending the guidelines for the facilitators as per the close one on one session taken up with the participants of the program. This has given Career Prep team the flexibility to understand that lots of sessions that need to be facilitated to the participants cannot be covered within the short duration of the fellowship.
This led to the design of a specific module targeted towards the same set of participants with one of our corporate partner, Daraz, the biggest e-commerce company in Nepal. Daraz is one of the great places to work at as it employs the best and the brightest mind in the country. The module will be co-designed and facilitated by the SBU Heads/Experts that would contribute to the future need of qualified and quality human resource at the same time allowing the Career Prep team to create more awareness among the potential applicants and educate them about the future need/gaps in the soft skills domain.
- Right partner for right engagement: Well defined problem statement, needs and the expectations from the side of the corporations as well as the recipient partners helps in understanding and articulating the roles that would contribute maximum for the common pursuit.
Having understood this, Career Prep team touched base with CEOs from different industries and expertise to understand their role, need of the industry, business verticals, to strengthen the program, facilitation and recruitment of the trained participants. Resulting to a discussion and partnership with more than 35 plus organisations to cross leverage the comparative advantage, further leading to partnership with organisations working in the media space, academia and recruitment service providers so that the value chain is factored in and right partner is brought on board for the right engagement.
This has also facilitated and nurtured in managing the expectations from all the partners and as a result intensified the engagement and support system for the Career Prep Initiative.
- Keeping stakeholders motivated: Finally, it is important to ensure that all stakeholders stay motivated, enthusiastic and driven in the entire process and evidently see the impact and the results achieved together with their involvement. Recognising, appreciating and celebrating each stakeholder for continuous and gradual efforts, particularly non-monetarily has been one of the catalyzing factor in helping us being relevant to the entire stakeholders.For example, Career Prep Initiative makes serious and deliberate effort to share the impact created and achieved with the help of the organisation, facilitators, mentors and funding partners to share widely on social media platforms as well as mailing individually to keep everyone posted and updated. Stakeholders of the program talk about their experiences and engagement through video testimonials on the company website as well as on social media. Making a serious attempt by the CEOs and SBUs Head in recognising and rewarding the participating employees has encouraged more participation.
Implementing this high-impact knowledge driven program has been a gradual process that has been evolving and matures over a period of time. It has involved building a relationship with the right partners, incorporating views of all stakeholders from the design stage and has demonstrated its values and impact in fostering internal communication, teamwork, building leadership skills within the organisation. At the same time it has strengthened the Career Prep Initiative and contributed towards achieving more than the desired impact.
Nanda Kishor Mandal is Head of Yunus Social Business Center at King’s College, and the Founder/Director of Women Development Advocacy Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org