Corporate Social Responsibility Legislation On The Way

Ok, I’m not sure this is a good idea.

A new “revolutionary” bill is on the way. One senator has come up with a bill that will compel every company in Nigeria to devote 3.5 per cent of its gross profit to what he terms “corporate social responsibility”.

In other words, after carrying out their business and paying all the taxes that are required of them, companies will also be required by law to build roads, provide electricity, build secondary schools and execute all other such activities under a legally binding scheme. – Osebumere Odia,

Read the full article here.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the quickest and most efficient path towards building strong societal infrastructure will come through the coordinated efforts of government, non profits and business. Corporate Social Responsibility is a great mechanism to achieve this new reality. But when government legislates financial commitments rather than inviting them through incentives, then we are probably headed towards some type of backlash.

What do you think? Are there some situations in developing countries where this show of force by governments is justified? Especially considering that many multi-national companies have little to no interest in developing these nations beyond what is necessary to achieve business goals? For example, Nigeria is the 6th largest oil producing company on the planet, yet 92% of the population of 140 million live on less than $2 per day. Sure there are many reasons for this, but such extreme situations may demand extreme solutions.

What about the implications for developed nations? We already have numerous laws to protect our citizens and improve our communities. Is this the inevitable raising of the bar for business to act as good citizens?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.CJ