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Corporate social responsibility is a way of ensuring that a company engages with staff and partners beyond the 'bottom line,' according to a sponsor at this year's Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in association with British Airways.
One of the most sought-after awards is the gong for Excellence in Corporate Responsibility, sponsored for the first time this year by the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Shaw's Bridge.
Rajesh Rana, a director of parent company Andras House, which owns and operates five hotels around Belfast, said corporate social responsibility (CSR) was an important principle to the company.
"CSR is a core ethos of the Ramada Plaza and its parent company, Andras House, and as a company we like to recognise and reward best practice in CSR."
He said he regarded CSR as capable of a wide definition "from environmental sustainability to supporting social initiatives and community programmes".
"As a hospitality company we understand that ours is a people business and we need to engage with our staff and partners in a way that is not just about the bottom line."
He said the business had long embraced CSR, dating back to when the company founder Lord Rana - Rajesh's father - first started off in business in Northern Ireland in the 1960s after leaving Punjab, India.
"At the Ramada Plaza we understand the need to embrace CSR across all our activities."
The company has set out to reduce its carbon footprint, and is replacing the lighting in the Ramada Plaza and all the other Andras House properties with low energy LEDs.
"This will significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the group on an annual basis," he said.
The company is also involved in sporting and community organisations. "Andras House is proud to be a sponsor of the World Police and Fire Games.
"We recognise the importance of the games to bringing visitors to Belfast and we see it as our responsibility to support the Games in any way we can.
"Ramada Plaza is also the main sponsor of the Queen's University Boat Race and a sponsor of Instonians, Linfield Football Club and Cliftonville Football Club."
The company has also set up a charity, The Rana Charitable Trust, which has built an education complex in India.
Despite the tough times in the economy, a "robust" approach to CSR was still essential. "There are the cost saving benefits that come from reducing energy use and waste, and the added benefits of engaging with partners and customers in a way that's not just financial.
"Staff retention and morale can be improved through inclusion in CSR projects and this can reduce employment costs and enhance productivity."
Mr Rana said the awards were an "essential" way of rewarding achievement in business. "The private sector here needs to grow significantly to bring economic and social progress for the benefit of all in Northern Ireland, and at the Ramada Plaza we understand the need to benchmark ourselves against our peers."
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