By MedilynManibo– Dubai
As corporate social responsibility and sustainability increasingly gains significance in the UAE, the search for accountability and auditing of what makes a good CSR is also coming closer to further scrutiny. As companies put their initiatives under the microscope of various awards and certifications, Responsible Business looks into one of the lenses used by companies in the UAE to measure their efforts in the sector: the Dubai Chamber CSR Label.
An initiative by the Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business, the CSR Label is a diagnostic framework as well as a learning and development tool which helps companies define and improve their CSR strategies, policies and management practices.
From the earliest days of Dubai’s rise to prominence in the global business community, Dubai Chamber has stood by the emirate to play a pivotal role, not only for the UAE, but also within the Arab World. As the business community faces global and regional social and environmental challenges, Dubai Chamber seems to have kept ahead within the region, having integrated corporate social responsibility and sustainability within its core services as early as 2004. The Centre for Responsible Business has been in place to lead and mainstream CSR and sustainability and is now in the phase of harvesting the fruits of its efforts, by recognizing companies that have made the Chamber’s mission their mission.
Launched in September 2010 under the leadership of H.E. Eng. HamadBuamim, Director General of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the CSR Label is a voluntary standard which assesses local and multinational companies in Dubai based on their local impacts. For an international company based within the emirate, the label can be applied and given only to the company’s Dubai and UAE operations and not to the organization as a whole.
So far, the Dubai Chamber has reported more than 150 companies with registered CSR activities, with 23 companies having received the CSR Label and 20 undergoing assessment.
if a company is run ethically, this will have a positive effect on its operations including its customer service, quality of products and reputation.
Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector at the Dubai Chamber
“The number of companies awarded with a CSR Label has increased steadily since we launched the initiative. This year we have doubled the number of awarded companies and in the last round in June 2012 we awarded the most CSR Labels at any one time, which indicates that support and interest in the initiative is growing amongst the business community here in Dubai,” Dr.BelaidRettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector at the Dubai Chamber told Responsible Business.
Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business promotes CSR and sustainability and gives companies access to toolkits, networking seminars and training workshops to help them adopt and integrate CSR into their business operations.
“The CSR Label focuses on the responsible management of a company rather than having a direct impact on its products and services. However, if a company is run in an ethical way and taking sustainability and CSR practices into account, this will have a positive effect on its operations including its customer service, quality of products and reputation.”
As part of the CSR Label process, we ask companies questions about responsible marketing, life cycle analysis and responsible or labeled products and services, which draw these areas to their attention,” Dr.Rettab explained.
CSR reporting is not a mandatory requirement to qualify for a CSR Label, although some of the companies do provide a report.
Dr.Rettab added that some companies have reported that the CSR Label has helped them increase their involvement in areas where they were less active, suggesting that some companies prior to the CSR Label process had concentrated their efforts on community involvement and workplace initiatives. However, following their successful application, efforts have also been made on the marketplace and the environment.
The Chamber mentioned some CSR priorities of Dubai companies, ranging from energy efficiency to increasing health and safety, or improving transparent communication, as well as Emiratisation.
It further emphasized that companies must focus on the importance of all four areas of CSR, namely: environment, workplace, marketplace, community. “Dubai and the UAE are certainly leading the CSR movement in the region. However, we still need to build a comprehensive understanding of CSR amongst the business community here. Many companies think of CSR as only community involvement and yet it is so much more than this.”
As company strategies are always evolving, the CSR Label is only valid for one year and companies are encouraged to re-apply every year to demonstrate they are actively addressing CSR and continue to be a responsible business. “Successfully reapplying for the CSR Label is not a given and companies have to demonstrate that they have moved forward with their CSR strategies and made additional improvements. They have to meet higher expectations and criteria. And for those companies who are unable to demonstrate this, we support them by providing a number of recommendations which they can implement in order to reach the higher standard expected of a subsequent CSR Label.”
The main recipients of the CSR label are so far: Emirates Gas, Intercoil, Mashreq Bank, FedEx, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Standard Chartered, 3W Networks, The Nail Spa, Du, QBG, Sarasin Alpin, Alpen Capital, TNT, Al Fara’a Group, Axiom Telecom, Emrill, Canon, ABB, and Abela and Co.
Why is the CSR Label Created?
As Dubai stakeholders and companies evolve and mature in their understanding and practice of CSR, a simple tool was needed to communicate a company’s commitment to operating responsibility and celebrating success.
The Dubai Chamber CSR Label has been designed to provide a free diagnostic framework as well as a learning and development tool that will help companies to define and improve their CSR strategy, policies and management practices. The Dubai Chamber CSR Label is tailored to the Middle East, specifically to the UAE and Dubai and is based on international standards and best practices.
As such, the Dubai Chamber CSR Label fulfills the need for the recognition of companies’ CSR initiatives and adds value to increased reputation and market acceptance. The Dubai Chamber CSR Label contributes towards building a more responsible and sustainable business community.
Source: Responsible Business Magazine