What is Corporate Social Responsibility? Depending upon the organisation, sector or even the country, the connotations of CSR take different dimensions. Over the years, if the very definition and principles of CSR have undergone massive changes, growing from a narrow and often marginalised notion into a complex and multifaceted concept so has the readymade garment industry of Bangladesh from its humble days of the early 70s to becoming the second biggest garment exporter globally. Today, the business challenges of adapting effectively to the changing equations amidst increased focus on ethical sourcing and environmental preservation have led garment manufacturers to attach more importance to CSR.
In this changing milieu, the business implications of CSR have become very important, as a result of which, more and more entities have now started contributing towards social and environmental objectives by integrating CSR as a strategic investment into their business, management and operations.
Bangladesh’s Shin Shin Group, is one amongst the rising number of businesses that has strategized its business practices keeping with principles of CSR. “Our slogan is ‘Together We Grow’, and keeping up with the same, we want to take along everyone with us to not only ensure business prosperity but also growth and development of the society at large,” maintains Mohammad Sohel Sadat, Chairman of Shin Shin Group while speaking to Apparel Resources, whose ultimate aim is to leverage various aspects of CSR and business’ best practices to evolve Shin Shin into self-sustaining and self-dependent entity, following the path of successful business conglomerates like that of TATA in India.
As per the company’s CSR policy, its social sustainability philosophy is based more on social intent rather than economic focus, considering the fact that its core operations do not market products or services in Bangladesh. There is a decentralized framework, where control of CSR activities is given to the Divisions/Strategic Business Units, under an over-arching focus on education, health, sport, and environment to uplift living standards and create positive changes. Assisting the communities and empowering its employees have always been part of Shin Shin’s corporate culture, which it feels is the key to building a more sustainable industry.
Remaining true to its motto of taking everyone along, Shin Shin has invested substantially in various CSR activities including scholarships for students, free medical assistance for workers, and above all in gainfully employing the differently-abled.
“We are also working with People with Disabilities or which we call the PWD. Though it’s a CSR activity but at the end of the day, it translates into business as we are employing these differently-abled people in our manufacturing units to make them financially independent while also adding value to our business. And you’d be surprised to know that in many cases, we have seen that despite of being physically-challenged, these people are sincerer and more efficient than the regular workers,” explains Sadat with a sense of pride and contentment.
The company also bears the medical expense of workers in case of any accidents while in case of long-term disability that may render a worker bed-ridden for more than three months, Shin Shin ensures full salary to the affected.
Shin Shin’s approach towards CSR in many ways is a classic example of dispensing one’s social, environmental, and corporate responsibility, which effectively translates into sustainable business in the long run.
“The essence of CSR, however, is business profitability which also ensures well-being of people in the surrounding community, employee welfare, and benefits within the organization, as well as that of the environment,” vetoed AKM Ahsanul Hoque, Director-Research and Training of CSR Bangladesh while speaking earlier to Apparel Resources.
Shin Shin Group boasts of four manufacturing units, employing around 8000 workers and an annual turnover between US $ 80-90 million to manufacturers of woven bottoms, skirts, dresses, shorts, infantwear, school uniforms, etc, to cater successfully to a wide range of global brands and retailers including names like H&M and Primark.