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Think global, act local

Article - December 16, 2011
HSBC is a truly global business which has put down roots at a local level

Generally understood to mean a set of economic, environmental and social imperatives, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is taking centre stage in business models all over the world. Though relatively new to the Bangladeshi corporate sector, institutions such as HSBC are leading the way in integrating its practices into their work philosophy.

“We do not term it as CSR, but rather corporate sustainability (CS) because there is a connotation in CSR of doing charity. Our growth model is more about co-existing in the country and trying to sustain businesses together,” explains Sanjay Prakash, CEO of HSBC in Bangladesh.

With offices in 87 countries, HSBC is a truly international enterprise, but it has established firm roots in Bangladesh, with local workers comprising 99 per cent of its staff, as Mr Prakash proudly asserts: “There are only three expats here out of 1,050 people.”

CS is very much a part of the company’s DNA, and is embedded is in all its credit procedures. “Each time we lend money to any corporate body, we make sure that they comply with good practices from a corporate sustainability point of view. We would not fund any project which violates the environment or pollutes rivers, for example, or if we found children working in the factories,” he adds.

Each year, HSBC Bangladesh contributes to four different areas: education, under-privileged children, climate and environmental issues, and cultural preservation.

More than just a financial practice, HSBC staff are actively involved in the company’s initiatives. “Some of these activities are sponsoring activities of the School of Hope – a school for underprivileged children, scholarships for merit students, collection drives to collect clothes and toys for various foundations, vaccinating children, providing computers in schools, rain water harvesting in schools, tree plantations, art exhibitions, etc,” explains Mr Prakash.