Corporate Social responsibility or CSR has become integrated into many business models in the region. ISO26000 is the recognised international standard and the goal of CSR is for companies to accept responsibility for their public impact through supporting activities that promote community development, ethical practices, and offset environmental effects. The growth of CSR has increased with the growing ethical consumerism movement. Whilst critics may argue that some companies pay lip service to CSR or that it detracts from the core business, other companies are finding that it creates shared value between their business and society, gaining them competitive advantage.
For CSR to succeed there has to be a link to your corporate strategy and business sector. Analysis of the positive and negative effects of your company can help to expose the most effective areas opportunities for proactively approaching and coordinating social, community and environmental responsibilities. In the UAE the Muslim practice of Zakat or private donations to those in need should be separated from a more public statement about your company CSR initiatives. Positive public reception of your company brand through your meaningful support of CSR can provide consumers with an ethical choice in a region that still has much work to do in protecting vulnerable communities.
Lucy Bruce recipient of the Emirates Woman of the Year Award 2010 in the Humanitarian Category, founder of Harmony House ( Delhi) and co-founder of Homegrown Nursery (Dubai) spoke about CSR :-
At Homegrown Nursery we have our own charitable and community initiative called Harmony House. Harmony House is a full time community centre in Delhi which provides education, food and medical facilities for women and children living in nearby slum areas. The parents that send their children to Homegrown Nursery share our values and are increasingly conscientious about teaching their children to give back to society, which is why we have incorporated this into a curriculum which values respect and awareness for themselves, others and our planet. For each child that attends our nursery a portion of their school fee is helping to sponsor a child at Harmony House creating a perfect synergy between our philosophy and company values. There are links to Harmony House beyond the sponsorship; parents as well as the Dubai community regularly lend their professional expertise to further enriching the Harmony House community. In addition to this Homegrown Nursery supports many other charitable organisations and initiatives within the UAE.
Companies should base their core CSR initiatives on those with the greatest shared value: those which will increase their own competitive effectiveness as well as have the greatest benefit to their community. Successful companies recognise that they need a healthy society and this will in turn sustain and create additional demand for their business.
“ When a well-run business applies its vast resources, expertise, and management talent to problems that it understands and in which it has a stake, it can have a greater impact on social good than any other institution or philanthropic organization( Porter & Kramer, 2006, p.14 ). “
Porter, M.E., & Kramer, M.R. ( 2006, December). Strategy and Society:The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from www.salesforcefoundation.org/files/HBR-CompetiveAdvAndCSR.pdf