How to Help: What They Need Vs. What You Think They Need

helping hand 1

If you’ve ever been asked for assistance, how do you approach your response. Are you the type that looks at the person asking and immediately diagnoses what is needed and begins working to make it happen. Are you the kind of person that needs step-by-step instructions to accomplish the goal for the asker? These questions play a major part in how Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR is implemented in areas around the world. In many cases there are items lost in translation, but the large challenge in a globalized world is the bring a balance between what the company can provide and what the local population needs.

Explaining the issues in greater detail, the problem that is happening involves lacking communication, or rather a collaborative process to fully engage all parties in examining what is possible and what is needed. As companies decide to go into an area and provide assistance, the trend appears to show companies spending more time and energy doing things that are within their own needs and abilities or mission rather than providing what the locals have requested. This can be a problem in a globalized world because depending on the situation, the cultural contexts of the donor group may not balance well with the local civilians. In this case, where a company may see themselves as being helpful, the needs of the locals and their culture/perspectives get overshadowed by the benefactor organization. I also found this interesting article which covers some of the related issues and myths surrounding CSR from CSRwire.

In readings for class, the trend in the CSR process starts when a corporation or donor decides to leverage some assistance. Before starting, if the work is intended to help solely for the purpose of being a good CSR entity, then there may be a better chance that the company will listen to the local needs. However, if the true intentions from the donor entity are meant to cover up a previous issue or just to promote its own brand identity, there may be less of a chance for success. Once the discussions for implementation happen, there can be significant pull from both sides in trying to direct the action plan. In the cases where donor companies sought a collaborative process, there was usually a balanced implementation toward the needs of the civilians and the needs of the company. Yet, because of the collaborative process, the result was a kind of hybrid of both sides, neither culture taking control and finding a sort of global medium or world standard. In other cases, while the balance of power in earlier decisions had been with the company, other success stories hinged on allowing more autonomy for those “on-the-ground” in applying the action strategies.

So, what does this mean for Millennials in a globalized world? Going back to the beginning, before you ask someone if they need help, or really in any endeavor you may face, it is good to get all of the perspectives you can. With information, you may then apply available resources, check for adherence to ethical and moral codes, and then follow to implementation to make sure that the input is having the desired beneficial effect. It may not be the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of helping, providing gifts, or CSR, but such efforts can be a way of exerting power and control. As we move into a continually dynamic world among cultures, we need to find common ground but not destroy the qualities of individual cultures. Millennials appear to have more diversity than previous cohorts, but it will be a challenge to ensure that the needs of all involved are weighed in resulting action plans. Helping others is likely how our species has survived as long as we have, but we need to make sure that the help is not just to satisfy personal perceptions, but truly help those in need.

Share your thoughts on Corporate Social Responsibility. Who do you feel benefits, the companies, the recipients, or both?

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