Local and foreign entrepreneurs and business consultants found common ground during a business workshop yesterday, as they agreed that adhering to socially responsible business practices helps the long-term growth and sustainability of businesses big and small, while minimising operational costs.
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Speaking at the first-ever CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Platform held in Phnom Penh yesterday, Romina de Jong, secretariat of the CSR Platform Cambodia, said companies that develop a CSR strategy make positive and lasting impacts in the communities in which they operate.
“If you want to be a responsible and sustainable business, it means you take responsibility to profit, people, and planet,” Ms de Jong said, adding that Cambodia needs to overcome obstacles that hamper the development of socially conscious corporate models.
With responsible business practices, investors reduce long-term costs and are in better shape to compete, Ms de Jong added.
Rath Sophoan, chairman of Transparency International, said Cambodia is at the same level than other countries in the region when it comes to the implementation of CSR principles, explaining that Asean members Singapore and Brunei are the nations really taking the lead in this regard.
Having suppliers and investors abide by CSR principles is a prerequisite for creating a good business environment in the country and a levelled playing field for all economic actors, Mr Sophoan explained.
Reach Ra, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said an increasing number of local corporations are now interested in developing a CSR programme as it serves to boost corporate image and can even improve public perception of the company when it comes to transparency and legality.
“Companies that wish to perform well in the long-run need to make CSR a priority because it is the company’s employees and their communities that will ultimately help the company progress.
“If the company is not contributing to the surrounding communities or if the working conditions are not good, I guarantee you that the company will not last long,” Mr Ra said.
One of the ways the government tries to push corporate responsibility principles is by urging businesses to increase staff wages, Mr Ra added.