IV International Forum on CSR Held in Minsk

On February 26, 2015, Minsk hosted IV International Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility. The event brought together more than 150 representatives of Belarusian non-governmental organisations, business structures and private international companies. Participants of the Forum discussed the progress of corporate social responsibility in Belarus by reviewing case studies of private businesses and international companies working on CSR.

U.S. Chargé d'Affaires to Belarus Scott Rauland was among the guests of the IV International Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility. According to him, Belarusian companies now assess their roles in the society and take an active part in solving social problems. There are also some Belarusian CSR experts that already apply American practices. Speaking about American business, Rauland noted that American companies nowadays focus both on development of their employees and on providing support to vulnerable groups of population, ensuring environmental protection and supporting young talents.

Scott Rauland (on the right), U.S. Chargé d'Affaires to Belarus

Stressing the need to develop CSR in Belarus, UN Resident Coordinator to Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha noted that in each of the projects being implementated UN agencies are now focusing on the potential and on the key role of the private sector. When establishing a dialogue with Belarusian authorities, UN representatives emphasize both the role of CSR in resolving social issues and the role of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Sanaka Samaransinha (on the right), UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus

"The dialogue should be established between the public and the private sector so that they would recognize the benefits of PPP. A private company is not just making money; they also deal with human resources, technologies, etc. I will give you a simple example: here are the two companies, FedEx and DHL, that have great logistics and great potential, so we at the United Nations are now learning from them how to set up logistics in case a catastrophe or a natural cataclysm happens, because they know how to do this. There are processes in social sphere that we can adopt from the private sector ", noted Sanaka Samaransinha.

Anna Danylyuk,  Partnerships Development Analyst for UNDP in Ukraine

Speaking to participants of the Forum, Partnerships Development Analyst for UNDP in Ukraine Anna Danilyuk noted that “no business is possible in the long term if there are human rights violations.” According to her, it is customary for many Ukrainian companies to spend “volunteering” hours in children’s orphanages. However, views of the Ukrainian business on CSR regulation are quite different from those of their Western counterparts: many companies intentionally refuse possible tax benefits they might get if they take part in CSR projects only because they are afraid that these “tax benefits” would entail serious restrictions in other areas. Anna Danylyuk also shared that CSR issues in Ukraine at the moment are regulated neither by the government nor by law. In fact, a CSR legislation did not pass in the Ukrainian parliament because of opposition from the communist faction, while the national CSR strategy was not approved by the President of the Ukraine and by the Cabinet of Ministers due to the Euromaidan events. At the same time, says Danylyuk, prevailing opinion in Ukrainian business circles is that CSR projects can greatly contribute to decreasing reputation risks in emergency situations, e.g. when doing business in the areas of conflict.

Representatives of Belarus, Slovakia, Austria, Russia and Ukraine took part in the  IV International Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility. Participants of the Forum explored the possibilities of establishing future partnerships between Belarusian NGOs and business in order to resolve such important social problems as providing aid to the elderly and the disabled, protecting environment, volunteering, employing refugees and directly supporting the poor.

See also: Discussion of National Model of Corporate Social Responsibility Held in Minsk