COVID-19 affects the increasing responsibility of businesses to society

Prishtina, October 16, 2020 – The importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has increased significantly following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the need for responsible action, while a large number of companies in the country have taken immediate action to mitigate its impact on society. The American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo organized a conference with a panel of experts of this field, during which the phases and principles of CSR as well as global trends to be followed for the further development of this practice were discussed.

Ariel Shaban, Chairperson of AmCham Corporate Social Responsibility Committee and Director of Business Development & Quality Manager at KIVO, who was also the moderator of this conference stressed the need to strengthen CSR within companies, given the positive impact this practice has on society, while adding that during the pandemic, corporations have stayed close to the citizens through the social responsibility activities they have conducted.

Wayne Visser, Chairperson at Sustainable Transformation and Professor of Integrated Value at Antwerp Management School, briefed participants on the five phases of corporate social responsibility that companies go through, which are defensive, charitable, promotional, strategic and transformational. According to Visser, during the development and advancement of corporations, the social responsibility side must be transformed simultaneously and adapt to customers and market needs serving to the society’s wellbeing, while adding that it is important that every enterprise that has an advanced CSR department coordinates its activities based on the field in which it operates. He also stressed the need to raise awareness regarding CSR, adding that the extraordinary situation created by the pandemic has brought about a major shift in requests and calls for help made from civil society to corporations. Finally, Visser added that although the pandemic has radically disrupted the economy, and consequently corporate revenues, any work that serves the collective good, be it in protecting the environment, improving the quality of food or donations is part of the CSR.

Indira Kartallozi, Executive Director of Sustainability Leadership Kosovo expressed her satisfaction with the willingness of corporations to be more active in serving society, while emphasizing that social responsibility trends have already begun to undergo major changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other threats to humanity, such as global warming. According to her, another impetus towards the implementation of changes in this area are foreign policies and the pressure exerted on the most influential companies. She took as example some Kosovar businesses which have reformed their activities to adapt to the needs of the market after the outbreak of the pandemic, activities which according to her are classified as fulfillment of corporate social responsibility. Furthermore, Kartallozi added that a positive trend of increasing social responsibility can be seen in startup businesses of developing countries, which are using innovation to serve the economic development of the country, as well as improving the quality of life of citizens.

Antigona Limani, Head of Marketing and Public Relations Department at Raiffeisen Bank, said that the company she represents is in the strategic phase of corporate social responsibility. According to her, this bank aims to support enterprises that have a positive impact on the economy and the environment, while this principle initially created many challenges and now the bank’s standards for social responsibility are imposed on businesses with which they cooperate. Limani stressed that the pandemic period has caused changes in the way the banking sector in general uses funds, and the same will be allocated and invested in those industries that serve the public welfare thus fulfilling the main principle of CSR.