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Twelve organizations agree to undertake Corporate Social Responsibility

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, March 10
Twelve local and international organizations signed a Letter of Intent regarding the promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Georgia on March 9 at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. The parties agreed to cooperate to “foster inclusive economic development, multi-stakeholder dialogue, ethical principles and progressive management and governance standards.” Representatives of the signatory organizations say that through promoting CSR they will encourage the harmonization of business practices in Georgia with those accepted in the West.

Corporate Social Responsibility, also known as responsible business, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model, the joint statement of the organizations says. CRS policy ensures that business responds to public needs and concerns and takes responsibility for the impact of its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders, and society at large.

The signatories include the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Global Impact Initiative, the British Council Georgia, the Eurasia Partnership Organization, the Open Society – Georgia Foundation, the International Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce, the French Business Council – Georgia, the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Centre for Strategic Research and Development in Georgia and the Georgia Employers’ Association. These organizations have agreed to organize joint events and encourage their respective networks to take part in CSR-related activities.

The Chairman of the Business and Society Commission at International Chamber of Commerce, Gilbert Hie, stressed the importance of the letter, saying that “it will strengthen the CSR situation in Georgia.” He called on all companies to join the group of signatories and encouraged them to be more active.

The President of the Georgian Employees’ Association Elguja Meladze noted the signing of the document is important not only at local but also international levels. “A lot of themes related to CSR are being discussed abroad. This is a sphere where everyone can enjoy very good cooperation,” Meladze said.

The Country Director of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Ketevan Vashakidze, noted that business should be responsible to society and not be limited to charitable work only. “In a situation where we are facing a global economic crisis, the world has realized that more should be done with fewer resources,” Vashakidze noted.

Shota Makatsaria, the First Vice President of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the first issue that the group should raise should be related to charity legislation in Georgia. Makatsaria noted that the charitable donations by business organizations are being taxed twice, taking about 20% of each donation away from the charity. “If we want to achieve something, apart from signing an agreement, we should also raise this issue with the Government. Our task is to build a bridge between us and the Government,” Makatsaria noted.

The signatory organizations have already planned to hold number of events throughout the upcoming months, including workshops, business forums, roundtable meetings and conferences dedicated to CSR, the relations of the civil society organizations with the business sector in the region and other related issues.