Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an increasingly important signifier of ‘conscientious business practice’, and many companies prioritise having a positive social impact, alongside traditional success benchmarks such as a high profit and share price. CSR also makes smart business sense as it strengthens relationships with consumers, who align with the values showcased by the company.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, maintaining the human-centric values represented through CSR work is essential. Organizations will be applauded for adopting a ‘socially responsible’ approach within their own organisation – through flexible working hours, support for employees’ mental health and social-distancing measures, but companies should also be careful not to de-prioritise the work they may be doing internationally, and the importance of maintaining charitable support across the world.
The Dire Impact of Plummeting Tourism and Lockdowns
Globally, around 10% of the world population work in tourism and the UN World Tourism Organization estimates that international tourism could decline by up to 80% this year, and not recover any time soon. These facts are threatening over hundreds of millions of jobs and small businesses. For economies like e.g. India, Indonesia and Thailand, flight bans, and a lack of travel could have a devastating impact, especially for the poorest people, who live and survive day-to-day.
Under current circumstances in India, with 1.3 billion people hoping the harsh nation-wide lockdown soon will end, still 70,000 cases have been detected as of the 12th of May and the curved has not ceased to rise. Millions are attempting to practise social distance in slums, where one toilet is shared between 1,440 people according to a recent article by CNN. Hence the need for aid and charitable support is more important than ever. The International Committee of the Red Cross warn that consequences for those living in poverty and fragile situations could be ‘catastrophic’.
Sisterhood Foundation Aims to Promote Courage & Change
In Above & Beyond, CSR is personal. Our projects are run by the Sisterhood Foundation, which was established in 2010, to support and empower women in the poorest areas of the world with: ‘Courage, Care, Choices and Change’. Our numerous charity projects cover three main areas: educational, entrepreneurial through micro-financing, and medical/emotional support. The foundation has e.g. invested in 40+ small business ventures run by women, to give them financial independence, while thousands of students have benefitted from our English language classes and over 100 college scholarships have been awarded annually. By supporting women at all stages in their lives we can have a sustained and significant impact, ensuring they have ownership over their own future and can provide for their children, so they can strive for a better life.
Women at Risk – Now More Than Ever
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 81 percent of Indian women work in the informal economy, and carry the burden of unpaid labour in the home. On the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report, India is ranked 112th overall and 5th lowest when it comes to economic participation. Hence women’s rights, health and independence must be protected during times of unrest such as this.
In some countries, like India, COVID-19 lockdown, does not just mean a few weeks working from home, in safety and shelter, no it often leads to instant starvation for an entire family – as millions just live from daily earnings. They usually survive by selling things on the street, and now they are by military force confined to their small sheds in the slums. The impact can be devastating long-term on education, public safety, and livelihoods in general. Cases of domestic violence is also on an alarming rise.
Though many companies are taking their internal CSR efforts very seriously, now may be the time to also look outwards and consider all the positive ripple effects, that can be had by corporately supporting those who truly are in urgent need – now more than ever.
If you are interested in supporting The Sisterhood Foundation, and our various CSR projects for women and girls in need in Chennai, India – please visit our website: www.sisterhood.dk