Today our new series features Wael Sabri of Global Arabia, Saudi Arabia who will give us some thoughts about the importance of CSR in Saudi Arabia.
Corporate social responsibility – What does it mean?
CSR is described as “a balanced approach for organizations to address economic, social and environmental issues in a way that aims to benefit people, community and society”.
CSR includes consideration of such issues as: Human rights, Workplace and employee issues, including occupational health and safety, unfair business practices, Organizational governance, environmental aspects, marketplace and consumer issues, community involvement, social development. Ethics and values are essentials on which businesses are founded and through which success can be achieved and communities developed. CSR has always been a major influence in the business world and is growing in importance as it is increasingly supported by business models and standards.
Emerging trends in corporate social responsibility
By any count, the world is changing faster than ever before. Human numbers are growing faster, and the impact of our activities is being felt in more and more ways. This change has profound implications for business, and means that the world of CSR – or how businesses respond to society’s expectations – is at the forefront of this change. So it’s worth looking for what are the current trends and where are they heading.
One – attitudes to business and its relationship with society are changed and shaped by outside events. These can be demonstrations of social problems that substantially change the environment within which companies do business, which are partially or wholly caused by business activities, or which businesses are likely partners in finding solutions.
Two – expert practitioners have a vision for how sustainable business should operate, and develop new ideas, or increase expertise on past experience, and implement these within the business. This defines how businesses focus their attention when the spotlight isn’t particularly on them. Do they define CSR as being about philanthropy, or environmental management, or core purpose and the business model?
Three – outside agencies create a vision for the achievement of future goals, and actively recruit businesses and partners. So in recent years, the involvement of businesses in finding ways to meet the millennium development goals has been an example.
Why CSR is good business?
CSR concepts have been applied for years through quality and have proven their practicality and profitability, while emphasizing sustainable performance through valuing people and society. Therefore the right thing for business and the right thing ethically become one and the same.
CSR impacts a wide range of organizational activities, including: oroduct manufacturing and integrity, disclosure labeling and packaging, marketing and advertising, selling practices, pricing, distribution.
CSR provides a number of advantages to businesses including: reducing and limiting litigation, protecting the brand image, improving customer satisfaction, reducing absenteeism and employee turnover and increasing the ability to retain talented employees.
CSR in Saudi Arabia
There is broad and varied awareness and understanding of CSR in the region as well as within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Many organizations in the region have been involved in CSR-related activities leading to enhanced consumer trust, community improvement, employee recruitment and retention and improved financial performance without formally organizing these initiatives under a single CSR umbrella.
There is considerable effort throughout the region to enhance the awareness of CSR, and specifically within the KSA.
- The top 3 CSR activities identified in KSA are creating job opportunities for the unemployed (49%), encouraging entrepreneurship (47%) and conducting or supporting anti-smoking campaigns (46%).
- Other activities identified include medical support programs (32%), computer literacy and education drives (30%), and training to the physically challenged (41%).
- Significantly low awareness of CSR activities was in relation to women’s programs (10%), anti obesity campaigns (11%) and career counseling (11%).
- In Riyadh, anti-smoking campaigns (53%) and orphan support and rehabilitation activities (47%) generate greater awareness, whereas in Jeddah, the initiatives associated with educational and vocational programs for women (45%) tops the list. Awareness for unemployment reduction and encouragement of entrepreneurship are almost identical in both cities.