Corporate Social Responsibility as Practiced by Cooperatives
How cooperatives are different from corporations
Corporate social responsibility or CSR for short has been a buzzword for the past couple of decades. In fact, it has become so popular that in branding a product or a company for example, CSR is considered as a unique selling proposition. Marketing savvy people often use CSR to build a strong customer loyalty and thus differentiate the product or the company from the other competitors in the market. CSR is also used by companies or organizations to attract similar-minded and very qualified employees or staff. This in turn converts such employees into strong advocates of the organization and what it stands for.
At our cooperative called the Baguio-Benguet Community Credit Cooperative (BBCCC), more than the “window dressing” where CSR nowadays is usually equated with, our Co-op engages in CSR because it is part of our Vision and Mission. We can call this as the cooperative spirit. Cooperative spirit or doing outreach to our members and the community and placing members’ welfare at the forefront of everything that we do, is at the core of our very existence. Remove this from the equation, our Co-op flounders in limbo, unsure of where we want to go and what to achieve. It is as if the soul is removed from the temporal body.
Revisiting our own Vision and Mission, as what we did with our 2014-2020 Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) forced us again to look at the cooperative spirit as a way of life at BBCCC. Not only it helps sustain our financial progress in the long run but it is also part of our strategy to better reach our goals and objectives which is really to serve our members and the community where we operate.
Our Co-op is still in the process of achieving the objectives of the MTDP. But by being aware of our social responsibilities to both our members and the community, the journey towards our destination may just be worthwhile and satisfying knowing that we have made a positive impact in some of the lives we touched along the way.
The BBCCC Foundation Inc. (BFI) is the social arm of the BBCCC. BFi is at the forefront of extending outreach to our own members and the members of the community where we operate. Serving others is indeed fulfilling when co-op members all do it wholeheartedly, sincerely and in the cooperative way. This is what makes cooperatives different from corporations where profit is not the be-all and end-all of everything.