Why CSR is important for businesses in Bangladesh

Concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its practices in Bangladesh have a long history of philanthropic activities from time immemorial.

In general, it is true that in Bangladesh, the status of labour rights practices, environmental management and transparency in corporate governance are not satisfactory, largely due to poor enforcement of existing laws and inadequate pressure from civil society and interest groups like consumer forums.

A focus on CSR in Bangladesh would be useful, not only for improving corporate governance, labour rights, work place safety, fair treatment of workers, community development and environment management, but also for industrialisation and ensuring global market access.

CSR does not develop and is not sustained independently of the context in which business operates. Importantly, the context includes the legal infrastructure created by the state and the enforcement effort imposed by the state. In the absence of an effective state intervention in the public interest, private entrepreneurs are less constrained to behave in the public interest and in conformity with CSR. Thus lack of capacity or lack of will, or both, by the state weakens the incentives for private sector entrepreneurs to practise CSR. In addition, private sector entrepreneurs lack expertise and are not efficient and competent enough to take advantage of an open economy. The government has recognised the need for educating the private sector and is undertaking some programmes. However, this is not done on a large scale. This heightens need for educating business leaders in CR as sustainable and profitable business models. This will help direct efforts towards promoting CSR for better business in Bangladesh to meet global and local needs. The non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need to be involved to educate the private sector on business ethics and issues of CSR.