Corporate social responsibility

Posted on

Loki suggested that I am unfair in singling out Batelco for criticism, while (s)he suggests that I should have my beef rather with the TRA.

I think I should lay out here why I do put the blame on Batelco, and why I do hold it at a higher elevation than other companies in Bahrain. This started out as a response to Loki’s comment but I thought it deserves a post on its own as it discusses other point worthy of consideration.

In the original comment (please take the time to peruse our exchanges in the Batelco feeling the heat thread) (s)he says:

Fair point, but I would argue that your beef should be with TRA not Batelco. If you were the CEO of Batelco would you actively make life easier for your competitors?

You see, this way of thinking is what I classify as “the old way of doing business“.

I think that as the business environment changed appreciably now to be more aware of their surroundings, environment and community as successful businesses actually derive their success from those factors directly and indirectly, it is therefore incumbent on the businesses to be more socially responsible to give something back to their benefactors; this will allow them to become more sustainable.

All of this is typical of “knowledge based businesses” and this is the virtually the only type of business that will survive in the future; their “value add” must be knowledge based, rather than “hardware based” where a product is sold and forgotten. Selling hardware is simply an enabler to provide an even more involved knowledge-based product: how to benefit from the product most, how to use and utilise it to make other products, etc. If one takes that approach, then no longer will the thinking be of competition, but rather cooprition where a business will cooperate and compete with others to provide a more creative and knowledge value irrespective of the hardware. Therefore, businesses will recognise that they do not have to re-invent the wheel, they will no longer have to “keep” the customer close to their bosoms (the customers are much more knowledgeable anyway) and be afraid of “losing” them.

In fact, another of my theories will come into play: the boomerang effect which I can explain as the more valuable “content” and “knowledge” you provide your customers (who should be regarded as partners anyway) and the more you actually lead them to a competitor of yours who can provide them with a better service in a specific way that you cannot (for any reason) the more they will actually come back to you and bring in more of their friends as the level of trust will increase appreciably!

Putting it rather simply, don’t you just hate sites that forces you to follow links in a new window? What does that tell you as a visitor? That they are afraid that you will leave and never come back to their site or that you are simply too lazy to hit the “back” button, in either situation it denotes a level of mistrust in themselves and you.

That is why I put the blame not on the TRA completely, but on Batelco squarely because they have had 25 years in which they could have developed the country a lot more if they embraced their role as an enabler and as a socially responsible company.

They should have talked to Abdulrahman Al-Sayyid or Jawahry for tips, but somehow I do not think that they ever will think in that way. Their social irresponsibility is so ingraned and typified in their arrogance.

That company SHOULD be broken up. We would be doing the country a big favour if it were to be broken up if only to show others coming into their traditional environment (big corp) that they have a role to place within the community and recognising that is simply good business practice.

What did Batelco achieve by their capping their bandwidth offering, for instance, other than provide the basis for other telco operators to simply copy its lead? Did it engender creativity? Did it engender competitiveness? No, all it did is allow the others to make silly capped offerings at slightly higher benefits.

And who benefits from those? No one. But if one does, they are simply labeled “trouble maker” and simply sidelined and the “drummers” continue to praise their benefactor without stopping for an instance to evaluate the position as far as the community and the country is concerned. Batelco just sets the lead and the others – even its competitors – follow like beaten sheep! And why shouldn’t they? It’s easy money, no one complains and no one demands a better service. “Good enough” is okay and the reward for mediocrity as excellence continues. This has almost become a cultural phenomenon.

Do we, for instance, have any real e-commerce solution? A gateway to accept credit card transactions?

No!

Why?

Because Batelco has entrenched the lead in greedy and irresponsible corporate culture. There is no reason to innovate whatsoever, because they have killed competition with the government – whose main responsibility should be the raising of standards and the performance and competitive bar – aiding and abetting it.

signature
17 Comments
  • Cradle of Humanity
    13 June 2007

    Do we, for instance, have any real e-commerce solution? A gateway to accept credit card transactions?

    No!

    Why?

    We actually do. BBK (in cooperation with Benefit) provides a payment gateway called BahrainPay. I personally implemented it for my employer. If you are intersted I can give you more specific details.

    I will be back again to reply on the Batelco issue, that needs a little bit more time!

  • Cradle of Humanity
    13 June 2007

    God Askimet is giving me an attitude again. I swear I don’t spam anyone!

  • BB
    13 June 2007

    Finally, someone knows what CSR is! Unfortantely Mahmood and I am not exaggerating her few people in Bahrain including these big corporations know what CSR is.

    I picked the subject for my MBA and when I started interviewing some Corporate Communications Managers in Bahrain to get their feedback I was shocked with their knowledge about the subject. CSR in Bahrain is about donations, few dinara thrown here and there, nobody really cares about bigger projects or the environment for example. They don’t have the resources and they think it is a waste of money to build something for the community.

    I can go on but but I don’t want to bore you with my MBA analysis. CSR is considered as voluntary work in Bahrain, there is no pressure of any kind on these companies to be responsible for the community!

  • BB
    13 June 2007

    dinara = Dinars

  • Abdul Rahman Jawahery
    13 June 2007

    Dear Mahmood

    I do not want to comment on your openion regarding Batelco. As an executive of an organisation in Bahrain, I have to respect other companies and keep myself out of giving personal openion on activities of other companies operating in Bahrain.

    However, I would like to say that I very much agree with you that in today’s business world “Corporate Social Responsibility” is a key factor for measuring success of any organisation. Companies are no longer judged by how much profit they made but on three factors known as ” The Three Bottom Lines”.

    The first criteria is the profitibility of the company since all businesses are created to make money for their shareholders.

    The second criteria for judging whether a company is successful or not is to evaluate the company’s attitude towards its society. Mature customers want to see that the companies they deal with actually give something back to their society. Organisations MUST help in charity work, education, reseach, sports and other activities that helps the poor, handicaps and orphens.They must also provid better environment for their workers and employees. In todays open market corporate social responsibility is a must.

    The third criteria for measuring success of a company is the company’s attitude towards care for the environment.Companies can not and must not be allowed to make money whilst distroying the environment.

    What I have said is nothing new. Any responsible executive should know the positive effect of the three factors I have mentioned above. The factors I have mentioned are part of today’s scientific knowledge and are tought as part of any good business degree from reputable universities.

    I also like your comment about knowledge based busnisses. I fully agree that the competitive edge that any successful company holds over its competitors must be based on “knowledge”.

  • eyeless
    14 June 2007

    We should lobby to get some anti-trust laws here in Bahrain.

  • mahmood
    14 June 2007

    Sorry Cradle, comment resurrected.

    The last time I checked, the BBK gateway only accepted BBK issued cards and it was no way near other Merchant Account vendors. If they have developed since the last time I looked then all power to them and we need more!

    Banks in general have a long way to go in Bahrain as far as e-commerce or enabling solutions are concerned.

    Abdulrahman, thank you very much for your input and I agree with your assessment. Corporates need to evolve, having a PR person “who knows people and can talk” is no longer necessary in the “new business world” which is driven by movements much like that of Open Source and Social Responsibility. The age of the “robber barons” (we we are so far living in – in a large part – in Bahrain) is on the way out, and if corporates don’t evolve then they will disappear simply because people will chose those who care.

    BB I believe you. This is a common sense concept, especially when you consider our Islamic heritage (Zakat, Khums, etc.) yet our corporates don’t even want to consider and people just blindingly follow the piper and clap for him when he says that businesses are there just to make a profit, and sometimes give away football T-shirts for the village team!

  • Darth
    14 June 2007

    The telecom law does contain a “anti-trust” competition clause for the telecom industry only. This is our first real monopoly to competition attempt, I hope it carries over to BAS at the airport and other places.

    Batelco always complains about the services in which they lose money, such as directory inquiries and fixed line monthly rental charge. I do think that if the TRA is tough enough we can see further reductions in prices in both IDD, and Data Connectivity. We are still a long way to go from ideal rates.

    Mahmood, the only reason you see some other companies following Batelcos lead in “limited bandwidth broadband” is that they are buying these packages at wholesale and selling them at retail.

    I am optimistic about both MENA and MTCs WiMax solutions, and I think Batelco will have to keep reducing their DSL and Leased Line prices.

  • Cradle of Humanity
    14 June 2007

    The last time I checked, the BBK gateway only accepted BBK issued cards and it was no way near other Merchant Account vendors. If they have developed since the last time I looked then all power to them and we need more!

    It accepts any credit card regardless of the issuer. I agree we need more options, BBK were not flexi at all, but I still had no choice and hated that.

    don’t you just hate sites that forces you to follow links in a new window? What does that tell you as a visitor? That they are afraid that you will leave and never come back to their site or that you are simply too lazy to hit the “back” button, in either situation it denotes a level of mistrust in themselves and you.

    I actually prefer sites opening external links in a new window. It feels like a de facto that external links are opened in a new window while links within the website are opened in the same window. I feel quite disoriented when that rule is violated, I still expect to see the window I was reading in, rather than have it disappear! Plus most of the time I want to have both windows open, so the new link saves me the “right click open in a new tab/window”.

    Back to blaming Batelco. Yes, I do blame it on Batelco and the TRA. A large share of the blame falls on Batelco though. Take their last offer for example. They took the initiative of advertising it in national newspapers BEFORE having the offer approved by the TRA. What for? Between the time of the advertising and the actual approval (if it ever happens), batelco is making every client who was contemplating moving to another ISP reconsider- even if at the end of the day their offer would not see the light.

    So I guess bottom line is, I agree with you.

  • naddooi
    14 June 2007

    Speaking of CSR…

    http://iirme.com/csr/

    i didnt realise we had a summit on this stuff! 😮

  • Mohammed Issa
    14 June 2007

    Take a company like GPIC as an example:
    They are not selling their products to the general public in Bahrain, and they will not gain new local customers by having their logo displayed all accross.
    Their contribution to society is one of a kind, you will find them in every single social, sport, charitable and academic activity.
    It’s one of the very few Triple Bottom Line companies in Bahrain and the world.

  • BB
    14 June 2007

    Take the Global Compact (www.globalcompact.com) initiative by the United Nations for example.

    How many organisations in Bahrain participated in the program?? One only, Aluminium Bahrain! what about the rest? Are they aware of it or is it difficult for them to adhere to its priniciples?
    (http://www.unglobalcompact.org/ParticipantsAndStakeholders/search_participant.html?submit_x=page)

  • BB
    14 June 2007

    Askimet again 😡

    It seems that I can’t type any website addresses!

  • mahmood
    14 June 2007

    Sorry BB, your comment should not have been blocked, I have set the system to accept a maximum of 5 links before it considers the post as possible spam. It must have been something else and I don’t have a direct line with the Akismet Gods to question them unfortunately!

  • mahmood
    14 June 2007

    Cradle:

    I actually prefer sites opening external links in a new window.

    That’s why I love FireFox, a middle-mouse-button-click opens up the link in a new tab or window depending on your own preference.

  • Abu Arron
    14 June 2007

    That’s why I love FireFox, a middle-mouse-button-click opens up the link in a new tab or window depending on your own preference.

    Explorer does the same if you click the mouse right button over the link.

  • Cradle of Humanity
    14 June 2007

    Explorer does the same if you click the mouse right button over the link

    True. What I mean is, users tend to want external links in a new window/tab! Whether _blank would open in a new window or a new tab would depend on your browsers’configuration. At the end, it is good practice.

Previous
Paid ads