Gulf Group is one of Thailand’s most prominent energy producers; its diverse business portfolio boasts a number of traditional gas-fired power plants paired with several renewable power plants. The company prides itself on providing safe and reliable energy to the nation of Thailand. Gulf Group’s mission statement is “to integrate innovative strategy, quality resources, premier technology, and culture of commitment to achieve the most reliable energy solution” to Thailand’s growing energy needs.
Gulf Group recognizes the importance of positive public relations efforts and social development efforts; at each new location Gulf Group opens a power plant, the company engages with the local community to make sure their company is positively received. Gulf Group uses a plethora of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to gain the public’s trust--in some cases, they teach farmers how to farm with reduced pesticides, and in other cases they provide bicycles to local children to make their commutes to school easier. Though Gulf Group spends significant amounts of time and resources on these CSR efforts, they do not seek media coverage for their actions because they are a very private company.
USC’s Annenberg Abroad program had the privilege of visiting two power plants owned by Gulf Group. These company tours were focused on Gulf Group’s CSR and local social impact initiatives. Both power plants were located outside of Bangkok in rural areas that are dense with rice paddies. At one of the power plants, USC students were given a tour of Gulf Group’s sustainable rice farming operations. Here, they were given an opportunity to plant Sakura trees and pick fresh mangos from a neighboring farm.
At the other power plant, the USC students acted as consultants to the company; students were broken up into groups and tasked with the mission of brainstorming new and innovative CSR ideas for the company. The CSR designs that were pitched ranged from creating academic lesson plans that taught children about sustainable farming, to holding town hall meetings where older members of the local community could teach and pass along values to younger members of the community. These USC students combined concepts they had learned in their Annenberg classes with the dense amount of research and preparation they had completed before the trip. Because this group of Annenberg students represented a multitude of different majors and academic interests, this brainstorming session was an interesting opportunity to learn from one another, as well as produce a number of creative ideas that included multidisciplinary components.
Touring Gulf Group and learning about the high value they place on their reputation allowed for the students to understand the importance of corporate social responsibly efforts for growing businesses. As companies expand to new areas and new markets, they can use localized social impact initiatives to maintain positive brand perceptions. Gulf Group’s wide range of CSR strategies illuminated just how varied these programs can be. As consumers continue to place increased value on ethical brands and company transparency, CSR and sustainability actions will surely receive more attention and resources from large corporations.
is a junior double majoring in Environmental Science and Political Economics. Born and raised in New York, she finds Los Angeles to be an interesting place to learn about sustainability. She is particularly interested in CSR and corporate sustainability. Emily has a Public Relations minor—she wants to better understand why some companies/countries choose to emphasize their sustainability efforts in their branding, and what catalyzes such efforts.