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APO conducts workshop on CSR in Sri Lanka2017/11/10

The workshop focused on how SMEs can integrate social responsibility in their operations through practical, simple, cost-efficient actions.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a continuing commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to socioeconomic development and environmental protection while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large. CSR is about how companies manage their business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society. Thus, it is vital for enterprises to consider the economic, social, and environmental impacts of their activities while engaging stakeholders. CSR is also a strategic tool to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs. Integrating social responsibility throughout an SME can be undertaken through practical, simple, cost-efficient actions and does not need to be complex or expensive.

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To understand the concept, methodology, recent trends and best practices of CSR in the era of Industry 4.0 and to provide an in-depth look at practices in SMEs to investigate specific barriers as well as opportunities to develop social responsibility programs, the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) in cooperation with National Productivity Secretariat of Sri Lanka organized a workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility in SMEs, 6–10 November 2017, in Colombo.

Addressing the inaugural session, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration & Management, and APO Alternate Director for Sri Lanka P.G.D. Pradeepa Serasinghe emphasized that humans must cooperate each with other to ensure that they act socially responsible. “In this sense, at this time we have to learn what CSR is, why we need CSR, and how to implement CSR in SMEs,” she urged.

During the opening ceremony, Industry Department Program Officer Jun Ho Kim of the APO Secretariat presented a special lecture on Industry 4.0 and sustainable productivity, introducing the overall concept of Industry 4.0, key technologies for smart initiatives, and their benefits and impact on productivity and sustainability.

The 28 workshop participants from 14 APO member countries represented the government and public-sector entities, NPOs, and SMEs. Four resource speakers were invited to share insights on and guidelines for CSR: Officer for Planning Kenichi Kumagai, ILO Association of Japan; Advisor Hitoshi Suzuki, Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies, Japan; Additional Secretary (Sustainable Development) Dr. Sugath Yalegama, Ministry of Sustainable Development & Wildlife, Sri Lanka; and Technical Advisor Dinidu P. Endaragalle, CSR Sri Lanka. The topics they covered included an overview of CSR and its current trends in SMEs, utilization of ISO 26000 in global initiatives for promoting CSR, and CSR development and best practices in SMEs.

The model SME Maliban Biscuits Manufacturing Ltd. hosted an observational visit so that workshop attendees could benchmark against its efforts to undertake a CSR program.

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