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Блог Михаила Прохорова
Благотворительность и "социальная ответственность" бизнеса. 
29th-May-2008 04:46 pm

Добрый день,

По итогам комментариев ряда предыдущих постов у меня появилась идея обсудить сегодня с вами интересную, на мой взгляд,  тему - благотворительность. Об этом сейчас много пишут и говорят. Но вот лично у меня возникает чувство недосказанности от прочитанного и услышанного.  Зачастую  эмоции (особенно в связи с социальной ответственностью бизнеса) напрочь перекрывают логику происходящего. Вопрос об отношении общества к благотворительности и благотворителям является одним из фундаментальных показателей его зрелости - радоваться успехам сильного и проявлять милосердие к слабому очень непросто. Поэтому предлагаю все это обсудить. Очень интересно узнать ваше мнение.

Хочу в инициативном порядке поделиться своим отношением к тому, что у нас определяют термином "социальная ответственность бизнеса". С  учетом моего опыта работы в "Норильском никеле" я выделяю в этом процессе три части:

1. Бизнес должен быть эффективен: платить налоги и достойную заработную плату на долгосрочной основе. Это вообще главная и обязательная задача бизнеса (в том числе и социальная), и уже за это можно ему сказать спасибо.

2. «Чистая» благотворительность – помощь тем, кому трудно, кто нуждается в заботе и опеке. Это  – естественная человеческая потребность творить добро. Здесь успешный бизнесмен может проявить себя просто как человек, у которого больше возможностей помогать людям.

3. Системообразующая помощь бизнеса социальной сфере.  Важно научить социальную сферу быть эффективной, т.е. потратить время, человеческий и денежный ресурсы для ее развития. Хорошим примером может стать участие бизнеса в регионах своего присутствия в реформе ЖКХ, где сочетается не только экономика, но и идеология – решая значимую для общества задачу, бизнес завоевывает общественную значимость и необходимость как главная движущая и креативная сила общества.

А вы как считаете?

С лучшими пожеланиями,

Михаил Прохоров

30th-May-2008 04:27 pm (UTC) - the subject of charity
Mikhail Dmitrievich,

I have already said my opinion on the subject offered in previous posts and I will try to not repeat myself in the current posting.

You are right that a lot had been said on the subject, but I would add - And what have been done ? The initiatives are almost in embrio status. You mentioned that the statements carry emotional character. In your vision what causes the charitable action, if not the sorrow upon seeing someone's suffering or inability to help himself? I would say that charity starts where one's selfishness ends at least partially.

You naturally are business oriented and have structered your statement in your most efficient manner and although you have mentioned the typical human approach on point 2 you never went beyond its description. Why don't you discuss it in more detail? You are a well-known figure and as such why don't you use it to help as well? Do you not wish that ?
If you have an emotional human component you might as well visit this website shown underneath (it is derived from the Kommersant website)and have a look at these eyes filled with hope for a brighter and healthier future.
I watched the news on NTV today and saw the report about the exhibit (and future sale) of drawings of oncologically ill children, which will be shown in the ITAR TASS building. It is heartbreaking and there is a lot that can be done, if only there is a will. Still it is sad to see how somebody begs for help and there aren't many who listen. I mean no disrespect, but as well I suppose that this can be classified either as imposed deafness or as immaturity of a society.

In regards to the other points in your statement:
point 1 - whether you own and operate a business or are a mere citizen you ought to pay your taxes. Paying certain salary level is either guaranteed by governmental regulations as a minimum or is a business decision if you want to keep certain valuable workforce. That is indisputable and not to be thanked the business for.
point 2 - good point, but it is based on good intentions and high morale and the business works for profit. I will leave the rest to your imagination.
You made this post based on your work experience with NorNickel, i.e. as a businessman... What is your human view point, stripped from business bias?
In your vision, how does (versus how it should value) your society at large and certain well-to-do individuals value the youngest and most vulnerable members of the society? I am specifically asking this question since the future is based on these youngsters, whether you will look at kids as potential work force or as the society's building component or simply emotionally speaking - as somebody's biological continuation of highest value.
How much should we invest in these charitable projects? Mr. Tseitlin made a very good statement about tzedaka and the jewish view point and that is a very good example of how it should be looked at.

Will be glad to hear your comments about it in the future, if you decide to hear and communicate that is.

Enjoy your weekend !

31st-May-2008 12:42 pm (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Part One)
Hi Paloma...

I wholeheartedly agree with your post.

I think Mr Prokhorov has missed the point of previous posts regarding charity.

From what I can remember we were discussing private/personal charitable giving not Corporate responsibilities towards the social development of its employees. Perhaps I missed those posts. Or perhaps Mr P. is pointing out the prior discussions we were having regarding Corporations and the responsibilities of them paying their taxes which (hopefully) go towards the development of public and communal structures like schools, libraries, gyms, hospitals, entertainment venues etc etc...
Sure... Companies should be paying their taxes, and the right amount. Obviously though there are a lot of loop holes that companies can go through to pay less tax. But that's another subject for another time.

I too would like to know our hosts thoughts on private charitable giving, and does he believe that the "elite" and wealthy in his country have a social responsibility towards their fellow countrymen who are in need, whether they be adult or child? and not just their employees.

I too frequent the Kommersant website to keep up with the political, economical and social news in Russia. And I read those articles you commented on above, about children needing urgent medical treatment. (This situation we would call personal or private charitable giving.) I know some of the stories on there end up with a happy ending, with generous anonymous readers donating money to pay for these treatments. I know there are charitable organisations in Russia who struggle because they do not have enough donors.
For example: http://en.pomogi.org/about/
The above organisation helps fund medical treatments for children and basic supplies to orphanages around the Moscow region.

But I also want to say, how do we know that Mr P. does not already donate money towards these kinds of causes as you mentioned above? Only he can answer that question. I for one like to remain anonymous when I donate to any cause for personal reasons and perhaps he does too. But as I said I cannot answer that question. After all Mr P in his younger years worked to help pay for his mothers/parents medical treatments as stated in an interview with his sister. He has had personal experience and would probably understand more than most what this feels like. I think if he wants to tell us that yes he does donate to these kind of causes then he would, but if he doesn't I would fully understand the reasons why he would want to keep his anonymity.

From my own personal view point, in reading the articles of children needing urgent medical treatment, documentaries of russia's orphans, parents abandoning their children in the city, mothers abandoning their babies in the hospitals after giving birth, children begging for money on the streets or having to prostitute themselves to help pay for food etc.. for their families. It breaks my heart to see that not enough is being done to help the children of Russia who are the future. Here is a website that details some statistics regarding the state of russia's poorest children and orphans...

continued on next post...

31st-May-2008 12:45 pm (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Part Two)

Poverty is so widespread, so is Alcohol and Drug abuse, Aids and STD's (Russia has one of the fastest growing Aids epidemics in the world), Child Abuse, Child Slavery and Prostitution. I could go on and on. All I can say that with those statistics above Russia is going to be faced with the biggest social disasters in the history of its country in the next 5 - 10 years. Perhaps it is already here.

If Mr P was to take "the bull by the horns" so to speak he is in an excellent position to do so. He has influence, and tends to set the "trend" (perhaps not intentually) in his social sphere, and his followers tend to follow what he does sometimes. So any charitable project he picks up would perhaps set a precedence among his social networks and help start the change towards helping those that are less fortunate.

Anyways... on a lighter note... I am happy to add that I have nearly lost my voice due to screaming so much... I attended our super 14 final rugby match and am happy to say that we won :) It was an excellent game and very close too. Yes! I am a hardcore rugby fan, bring on the rugby world cup 2011 :) Since our country are hosting it I cannot wait!!!!!
Oh and does anyone know if Russia has a rugby team? Just curious...

Well I am off for some much needed sleep... take care and enjoy your weekend...


1st-Jun-2008 03:41 pm (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Part Two)
Hi, Rina !
Glad to talk to you again. You write well. Compliments.
When somebody gives away it is best to do it anonymously, no doubt on that. I certainly did not mean that the host has to make the $ value of his donations a public knowledge. I needed more talk on the subject on point 2, not on the numbers. When I mentioned that MP might have a look at the featured website from Kommersant it was meant to draw attention to a problem, which had been most likely left unnoticed. Whether he will decide to participate at all - personally or will establish or back an initiative - is his private decision and all that I can do is to make a suggestion and post it. As we all know – there is no person wealthy enough to grant assistance to all the causes possible ( and is this reasonable /feasible at all ?), so the best way to deal is via initiatives of various kinds. As you have already noticed he certainly has excellent organizational and control skills, creative ideas and obviously possesses the natural talent to draw attention and people need urge and assurances in order to participate. On top of all that he has a lot of aides, which will relieve the pressure over his personal time being consumed on these projects. So, everything seems achievable, only there should be a will to do so. :)
This concept is not new – prominent people do this every day. What if not children’s health should take priority? Of course – different people have different views and mine is such.
Am I emotional on this subject ? – Sure, I do have emotional reactions and don’t feel ashamed to say it. I am Human, not a robot. I suppose it all comes from the way how I was brought up – very often I had to give up my share in order for another family member to get what she/he needed and this was a very proper approach. How did Jack London say it? - "A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."
You mentioned that MDP took care of his parents when they were ill and in need – that is excellent and this is how it should naturally be. I did the same thing when my father fell ill and considered that it is the only possible natural decision and there could not have been a different neither easier route at least as far as I was concerned.
Again, all these are personal decisions that one makes based on his/her deeply instilled values.
That’s it from me.
I hope that your voice improves. I believe that warm milk with honey might help, but if it does not you might as well try the very nasty egg yolks. How can it happen that the nastiest and tasteless concoctions help the most? - I don’t know. Courage ! … and don’t stretch for a high-on-alcohol kiwi cocktail cause it will get worse. :):):)


1st-Jun-2008 10:45 am (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Charity and Taxes)
Mr Prokhorov.....

I just wanted to add to my previous posts and touch further on Charity and Taxes.

I don't think we should be mixing the two together, for they are not one and the same thing.

Taxes are a requirement set by Government legislation and to be paid by Companies and Individuals. It is a statutory and civic duty. The taxes are used by the government to build the infrastructure and for the use of public services of the particular country you pay your taxes in. If you don't pay, the worse case scenario is you go to jail. End of Story.

Charity however is going above and beyond your "civic duty". Charitable giving is not a requirement by law in countries (I have not heard of any countries where charitable giving is law) but it is a conscious decision made by Individuals who make the choice to help those in need. Donating to charitable organizations or developing your own, for example helping to support a particular Orphanage. Of course there are cases where corporations do invest in the infrastructure of a particular area (which you probably have already done so) on top of paying company taxes and I would call this charitable giving.

But I believe they are not one and the same and should not be used in the same context.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.


1st-Jun-2008 03:53 pm (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Charity and Taxes)
Hi,Rina !
Absolutely correct - there should be a distinction between business and personal fiscal obligations on one hand and the mere act of private good will towards the needed.
There is another aspect of charitable giving - it is always a sign of sincerety and good heart to not make a charitable donations to entities that are issuing this little piece of paper, which guarantees your deductions upon filing your tax declaration. Here in US not all donations are tax deductible. That borders with something else, right? :)

3rd-Jun-2008 01:35 pm (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Charity and Taxes)
Mr Prokhorov.....

I just wanted to add to my previous posts and touch further on Charity and Taxes.

I don't think we should be mixing the two together, for they are not one and the same thing.

Taxes are a requirement set by Government legislation and to be paid by Companies and Individuals. It is a statutory and civic duty. The taxes are used by the government to build the infrastructure and for the use of public services of the particular country you pay your taxes in. If you don't pay, the worse case scenario is you go to jail. End of Story.

Charity however is going above and beyond your "civic duty". Charitable giving is not a requirement by law in countries

You are wrong.
Governments are supposed to organise a certain kind of charity:
In every country there are those who can't work (severely ill, very old but no pension...) and these people have to be sponsored by the government.
You can call that social attitude or solidarity or human rights.
No government should be allowed to let its people starve.
There are also these people who get very ill and whose medical treatment is very expensive.
For this ALL people should pay. Wheather by free medical treatment sponsored by taxes or wheather by some kind of solidary health insurance (everyone pays some percent of his income, everyone gets the treatment he needs).
- nutrition
- health/medical treatment
- clothing and living
- education

These are the services a government is supposed to provide and that is what you are paying taxes for.
Imagine a government did not organise meidal treatment of its citizen and only the wealthy could afford medical treatment. What would happen? Due to less vaccinations many infections would spread (measels!, polio!) also many STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) would spread. The citizens labour performace would decrease. In the longer run this leads to a productivity decline. If you don't believe this just look at those problems African countries have with their defunct health systems and the spreading HIV rates.
Goverments should care for their citizens and they should cover essentials.

If a government works properly there is no need for lots of charity.
If there is a huge need for charity (underfinanced orphanages my a**) something in the system is seriously wrong.

8th-Jun-2008 06:58 pm (UTC) - Re: the subject of charity (Charity and Taxes)

Only technically speaking your statement is correct - all individuals and businesses residing/doing business in a country (and hence using the governmentally provided benefits of any kind as well) pay their taxes on a mandatory basis, so that the government will be able to support the functionality of the state in all its sectors. But in this specific case you were describing as well a situation where the state functions perfectly well and in the condition where enough funds were segregated and used accordingly and properly for these same social programs. Is there such a state in the world nowadays? How do we make sure that a welfare state won't be created? Sweden had a very good social program at certain point, but didn't it backfire?

All this depends on a very large presumption about the developmental stage (economic and other) of the country and its demographics also. Can you compare Ethiopia to Canada or Germany ? No country will almost ever be able to pay for all the needs of its low-income citizens and this is where the pure charity comes into place and it does have a voluntary character – wealthier people might or might not decide to transfer a portion of its wealth to the less privileged. The distinction point is their good will or lack of it.

So, going back to point 1 on MDP’s post - Should we really thank the business that it pays its taxes? – That is their obligation and Governmental tax agency auditors should make sure that they pay the needed prescribed amount, not the chosen amount achieved via financial engineering and elaborately setup tax evasion schemes. But then again – if the government has left tiny doors in the tax code open, how can anybody reasonably expect that they won’t be used. So, shouldn’t we start with the point of creation of the tax law and why were these loop holes left in existence? Should we thank the business for this as well ? Lobbying, right ?

Point 2 calls for people with some level of sensitivity and not everyone can have it.

P.S.: Don’t feel any obligation to respond
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