CSR, Disaster Relief and the Aftermath of the Japan Tsunami

With 19 countries on high alert with tsunami warnings issued from Taiwan all the way to Alaska, the Japanese tsunami is the worst natural disasters in the recent spell of tragedies. Effects of the tsunami are already being felt in Hawaii and waves are said to hit California beach within the next hour. Already fragile stock markets the world over have gone into a tailspin. Apart from causing loss of life and infrastructure; natural disasters have an immensely tangible effect on world economy. Many companies recognize this and include natural disaster relief efforts into their CSR plans.

Social Media

One of the best ways to keep updated in the information age is through the internet. This is why Google has activated its 'Person Finder' after the Japan tsunami which is available in both Japanese and English. They offered the same service during the recent Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. Facebook also has a standing Global Disaster Relief page to help spotlight relief efforts. Tweets from Japan were topping 1,200 per second according to Mashable and Twitter has made #prayforjapan, #tsunami and Tokyo Disneyland the top trending topics.

Disaster Relief Specific CSR

During the recent Sri Lankan floods, the John Keells Group provided both emergency and short-term assistance to those affected. In the immediate aftermath of the floods, the Group committed a significant contribution to airlift cooked food to welfare centres in affected areas. The group's CSR arm initiated a programme primarily aimed at involving the participation of their staff.

Deutsche Bank pledged NZ$250,000 to support victims in earthquake-affected Christchurch in New Zealand. This is part of the firm's CSR and their phased approach to disaster relief . Contributions to emergency appeals were made by matching employees’ personal donations.  The bank also works closely with local organisations to identify appropriate projects to make donations so that it offers long-term, sustainable benefits to the affected communities.

Sydney based Servcorp received more than $100,000 in donations from its clients and staff from throughout the world, following the Queensland earthquake and cyclone Yasi. The company decided to match the donations of their clients and staff and were able to raise a total of $225,000 for the appeal.

The Dangote Foundation has been praised by the UN for their CSR efforts. This Nigerian based company donated $2 million to Pakistan flood victims. They also continue to support the World Food Programme and has succeeded in feeding millions of African children.

Other companies involved in disaster relief as part of their CSR include Air Asia - they provide free flights to relief workers. Yum! also focuses on disaster relief CSR, providing assistance during the Pakistan floods as well the Haitian earthquake. Cisco worked with NetHope to provide ICT communications for frontline aid workers to coordinate relief efforts in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and their employees raised $1 million for the appeal.

Recently, the company also announced a two-year $10 million donation of cash, services, and equipment to construct new education and health infrastructure after devastating floods in the state of Karnataka, India.  Mitsubishi is another company directly involved in disaster relief.

It is still too early to tell what kind of CSR response the Japanese tsunami will bring. However it cannot be denied that in times of natural disasters, especially with those of immense magnitude both corporate and public sector have to join hands to mitigate effects. Globalization works both ways.

Picture Credit: CNN