To remain the gold-standard recognition in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability in Africa
To lead the drive towards actualization of the sustainable development goals in Africa by enabling a platform that promotes, measures and harmonizes the contributions of private sector, governments/public sector and non-governmental organizations to attain set targets.
We live in a global, information age, where nothing can remain hidden for long. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated, more critical and more demanding of corporate organizations. They choose to make their purchases from firms that are perceived to be more client-friendly and client focused; firms that show that they care and who are more environmentally friendly and are seen to give back to society. Even children these days, call to question the veracity or authenticity of some advertorials that they encounter in the mass media; even when these advertorials have children as their core target audience.
We foresaw these technicalities that would change the face of corporate and marketing communications, many years ago as we planned to establish a strategic, research- and customer-focused and responsive public relations and marketing communications consultancy. In fact, stakeholder engagements held such a place of prominence in our visioning and thinking that it featured prominently in our mission statement – “to work with organizations of different sizes to engender transformative change that guarantees a safe, just, equitable and sustainable world that services the needs of the present generation without compromising the future generations inheritance of a better planet”.
The first idea we had was to publish a biennial or quarterly online journal or magazine that would explore the depth, texture and dimensions of public relations. This sounded really good at the onset but as we further deliberated on this, digging deeper into the advantages and disadvantages, we realized that this type of publication would largely appeal to those in corporate practice. What strategies would be all-inclusive, we pondered? What strategies would enable us involve the people, communities, NGOs, government and other stakeholders? We went back to the drawing board. Here, we would need to acknowledge the impact of friends of who brainstormed with us looking for that functional idea.
When we emerged from this round of brainstorming, it was obvious that we would need to expand the concept beyond just publishing an online report. This marked the birth of The SERAS CSR Awards, as we know it today – where participating organizations showcase their work around corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability to society and society in turn assesses and rates the performance of participating companies. Thus, both organizations and stakeholders together set the agenda and plot the way forward for mutually beneficial future encounters.
This thinking gave birth to the glamorous and grand SERAS ceremony. Though the actual ceremony happens over about four hours on a single night, the countdown to the D-day spans many months of activities, verifications, locations visits, hundreds of interviews, and other forms of preparation. The highlights of these activities include the call for entries, submission of entries by participating organizations, the field trips to cited CSR projects, voting by the general public and the meetings of the judges who make the final decisions about the winners.
We have a figure; it could be a man, woman, adult or child, or an organization in a position of advantage that extends a hand of friendship to another. In fact, the figure bends over double to assist that person who for the moment is down there- who needs help or leverage. However, as we are all aware, in life, the only thing that is constant is change.
The one, who is down today, may indeed have the advantage tomorrow. As the figure bends over the double, to make a difference, to make an impact, to reach out and touch somebody’s hands, to make this world a better place…the muscles and backbone stretch, the helper can feel a twitch of discomfort as the finger stretch to make with the other.
And as the hands touch, the eyes connect… for the moment in time, a bond is forged, a connection made… a life saved, enriched and a warm golden blow to hope and love engulfs both parties both the giver and given… hope, love, faith is rekindled.
For that infinitesimal moment in time as the figures touch… there is a burst of hope and the weary earth rejoices.
The figure represents LIGHT … light to show the way to a better and brighter future for mankind and the universe. It is said that, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness; Light that illuminates what is good and right about us all… and banishes our ills not just today… but forever.
***R.S. Owens produces the prestigious SERAS statuette – (They are also makers of the renowned OSCARS and Golden Globe Statuettes)