EMG CEO has chaired Qatar CSR 2013 and was also presenting at a similar conference in Jeddah, CSR Saudi Arabia 2013. Daan will also be the Chairman for the flagship sustainability summit CSR Dubai 2014, now in its 11th year.
Participants at Qatar CSR Conference 2013, chaired by EMG, tackled one of the big questions for organisations thinking about CSR – namely how to put a value on it.
During presentations and panel discussions with contributors from Middle Eastern businesses, non-profits and academia a number of key points emerged:
- Some CSR benefits have a clear direct financial value which can be captured, even if it is hard to measure.
Zeina Abou Chaaban is founder of Palestyle, a small high-end fashion business based in the UAE. Her business empowers local women refugees by providing skilled jobs such as embroidery using traditional Arabic designs. Zeina explained that this approach can be used to differentiate the company’s brand and appeal to customers provided it is (a)genuine (b)additional to good quality, not a substitute for it and (c)communicated appropriately.
- To maximise value CSR activity must be aligned with business strategy and organisations must take a longer term view
This point was well made by Noor Sarafi of the International Medical Centre, a private hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She emphasised the importance of taking a structured approach to CSR. Putting a price on CSR is difficult but can be achieved with the right data plus experience and expertise. The importance of tracking and measurement was further reinforced by Professor Dima Jamali from the American University of Beirut based on her work in the Olayan business school.
- Intangible value can be the most important sort.
Amar Benaissa’s organisation, INJAZ, works with the business community to link it to education and work with children in classrooms. He sees the main value for the companies involved as the motivation and empowerment of employees.
In Qatar itself major infrastructure projects are only possible thanks to a large migrant workforce, with relatively high levels of turnover. The way companies treat their workforce is a key driver of retention and motivation. Construction company QDVC presented details of its programme to ensure good conditions in accommodation camps, exceeding legal requirements and welcoming external inspections.
A range of related CSR issues were addressed by the conference, which was chaired by EMG founder Drs Daan Elffers with panel discussions moderated by EMG consultants Drs Zeljka Davis and Dr Richard Manlove:
- The leadership roles of companies, NGO’s, government and individuals.
- Untapped opportunities
- The Cradle to Cradle approach.
What emerged from the conference was a picture of Qatar and the ME more generally as a region with huge potential to do good for its communities as well as to prosper economically. The geography and demographics of states such as Qatar, which have small native populations, abundant hydrocarbon resources and very limited fresh water and productive land means that businesses which operate there need external resources and expertise, training and education to realise that potential. With economic activity expanding exponentially it is vital that CSR and sustainability become embedded in strategic thinking and action. As the Qatar Business Council Vice President, his excellency Mohammed Ahmed T Al-Kawari, stated in the Keynote Opening Address, “CSR must be made a strategic concept in Qatar”.
Article: Qatar CSR Conference Spotlights the Value of CSR
EMG organizes various individual One on One and team courses in Qatar, click here to find out more about CSR training