PRESIDENT of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Christopher Zacca is urging companies to employ more young people straight out of high school or university, as well as those with disabilities, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
Zacca said CSR is good for business as it builds loyalty among customers and employees, and improves the reputation of companies in the long term.
Speaking at the 16th annual general meeting (AGM) of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday, Zacca suggested that local business should focus on good labour practices, the environment and community development in developing their CSR policy.
"Jamaicans can do more to employ groups such as recent high school and university graduates without any professional experience and persons with disabilities," the PSOJ head said.
Citing reports in which people with disabilities have faced discrimination at their workplace, Zacca said local companies need to do more for this community if the vision for 2030 is to be realised.
Turning to the environment, Zacca noted that a 2007 survey by the National Geographic Traveller, which focused on the integrity of the environment of resort destinations, ranked Jamaica as being "in serious trouble".
He called for more investment in sound environmental policies and management, recycling and waste management.
"The businesses that thrive in the future will be those that are not just producing innovative products and services, but those that are also doing less harm to the world," Zacca stated.
Stating that "companies had a special responsibility to the communities in which they are located", Zacca called for the establishment of a national corporate volunteering programme where corporate volunteers could assist local schools and mentor at-risk youth. He said a similar project implemented in Turkey in 2002 was still in operation.
Meanwhile, Zacca cited the Youth Upliftment Through Employment programme and Crime Stop as two major CSR projects that the PSOJ had rolled out.
At Wednesday's AGM, JSIF presented awards to six major donors and seven outstanding community projects.
A government-owned company established as part of the state's national poverty alleviation strategy, JSIF has implemented more than 1000 projects impacting on more than one million people.