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Over the past eighteen months, GRTU – Malta Chamber for SMEs, has been actively involved in an initiative to give a national platform to bring forward Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This initiative has been formed jointly with all other major employers’ representatives in a bid to bring together all forms of businesses, small and large, in promoting CSR as a core concept for businesses. It is aimed at promoting initiatives and to serve as a network for cooperation in CSR.
CORE – Corporate Citizenship for Responsible Enterprises has been launched this week under the auspices of the Office of the President of Malta Her Excellency Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. Her Excellency highlighted how corporate social responsibility has been implemented by Maltese companies over the years but it was high time to promote it on the national agenda and to offer the space to bring all actors together. Companies realised that the implementation of a business that was responsible towards society was a crucial ingredient for sustainable development. Its founding President shall be Helga Ellul whilst GRTU nominee Carmen Borg shall serve as Secretary.
GRTU CEO Abigail Psaila Mamo expressed the importance of identifying what is already being done in practice. She outlined that at least 94% of business in Malta are micro-enterprises and therefore one cannot expect that the attitude towards promoting CSR with the largest of companies, can be transposed onto small businesses. Firstly one needs to acknowledge what is being done by understanding how each business is contributing responsibly towards society through the processes it has already in place. This has to be then be amplified by facilitating cooperation with each other in specific initiatives or through ameliorating business processes to achieve better results. Each business can be contributing to CSR but if the concept remains intangible and unreachable it cannot reach out to smaller businesses, which are in fact the absolute majority of businesses in our economy. A bottom-up approach has to be adopted in promoting what each businesses can be doing better to be more efficient and give something back to society, rather than having this the other way round.
Daniel Calleja-Crespo, European Commission General Director of Environment, expressed the EU’s support to such a positive initiative and outlined how CSR is being put at the forefront on the EU agenda. It is important to understand that the linear model of production has to shift towards the circular economy where businesses attempt to maximise the use of resources through re-using and recycling the supply chain eradicating all forms of possible wastage.
The launch brought together the various stakeholders in the chain of CSR. Various NGOs and businesses were present, with a number of GRTU members participating in the panels and activities during the launch – exposing their work in terms of CSR. During the panel discussions it was outlined that CSR should not be seen as a peripheral activity such as a financial contribution at the end of the year, but it should constitute a core principal within the processes of a businesses.
It is about management practices and employee engagement. It is futile for a business to simply give a monetary contribution to a charity if it is not respecting the environment in its production or respecting health and safety at the place of work for instance. Businesses also stand to gain from engaging in CSR. Businesses are expected to become more efficient and their customers hold them in higher esteem if CSR principles are implemented. It is a question of human resource management, quality and sustainability.
Sustainable Development Minister Leo Brincat, Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia as well as Shadow Minister Marthese Portelli participated in the afternoon panel of the launch. They jointly expressed the Government’s and Opposition’s commitment towards supporting CSR as an essential facet of any business model. The launch was also attended by GRACE, the Portuguese CSR Network, which signed a cooperation agreement with CORE Malta at the end of the event. CSR Europe, which is the network for CSR organisation across the EU was also present. CSR Europe committed that it would re-open its membership in order to allow CORE Malta to be part of it as a full member.
It shall therefore be the mission of CORE Malta to network the already existing CSR initiatives to find possible scopes for cooperation to reach goals which otherwise cannot be achieved. It is also important to reach out to small and micro businesses to support them in adapting their practices as well. Micro businesses would not have the resources and time to set up CSR departments or foundations as their larger counterparts would – but they are the backbone of Malta’s economy and contribute greatly to society already. It is because GRTU endorses the idea of businesses being about positive change in society that it is four-square behind the CORE initiative. GRTU is committed to participate actively in CORE whilst promoting CSR across the board.
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