To raise the bar for responsible business practices in the emirate, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry officially launched five task groups comprising of members from its Sustainability Network during a ceremony held at the Chamber premises on Thursday.
The Sustainability Network, which was initiated in December 2010 to enhance increased participation of businesses in CSR, sustainability and corporate governance, is a group of like-minded firms pursuing the common objectives of promoting best practices and building competitive advantages and business reputation.
The Network provides its members a connecting platform to share best practice and experiences, promote and support the development and implementation of corporate social responsibility in the workplace and the society.
The task groups comprise of members of the network collaborating on different joint initiatives to address sustainability challenges and to further support the mainstreaming of corporate social responsibility/sustainability and governance amongst businesses in the UAE.
The five task groups are collaborating on varying initiatives that include Workplace Wellness, Employee Volunteering, Community Engagement, Waste Management and Resource Efficiency and Integrating CSR into Business Strategy, which will strengthen efficiency to integrate CSR, sustainability and governance practices into their everyday business operations.
In his welcome address, Hisham Al Shirawi, 2nd Vice Chairman, Dubai Chamber, said that the launch of the Sustainability Network Task Groups will further reinforce Dubai Chamber’s position as the CSR leader in the country and will help it promote the concept of sustainability in the emirate.
“Sustainability has definitely become a pre-requisite for any successful business. Every day, the significance of CSR, sustainability and corporate governance is fast-becoming an integral part of any company’s agenda and something that we at Dubai Chamber actively support," he said.
The 2nd Vice Chairman of Dubai Chamber added that the network offers businesses in the UAE the opportunity to demonstrate CSR/sustainability and governance leadership, as well as to network and share experiences, while he called upon the new task groups to work jointly to achieve impactful results.
The speakers at the launch included Abdul Aziz Al Yaqout, Regional Managing Partner, DLA Piper, and Peter Walichnowski, CEO Majid Al Futtaim Properties, spoke on the importance of CSR and sustainability to manage business opportunities and creative competitive advantages to achieve Sustainable Business Performance.
Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber, clarified the need and importance of forming a cutting edge networking group and facilitating the emerging multi-stakeholder dialogue about the changing role of business in the society.
Dr. Rettab expected the number of member companies participating in the sustainability network to rise from 19 in 2011 to 100 in 2015, as the network promotes responsible business practices amongst the UAE business community by leading members to become innovative and sustainability driven.
On the benefits of joining the network, Dr. Rettab added that the Sustainability Network provides an opportunity for companies to network, collaborate and contribute towards the sustainability agenda of Dubai. In addition, positions these businesses as role models and leaders in CSR, sustainability and corporate governance.
The Sustainability Network consists of 29 high profile businesses, with a record of achievement in sustainable excellence, as well as a determination to lead the business community to the next level and be at the forefront of the importance of sustainability for the future.
The members include: Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding LLC, Bank Sarasin Alpen, PepsiCo, Aramex, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L, TNT, Johnson and Johnson, ABB, Al Ahli Group, Standard Chartered, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, ZAFCO, Du, Axiom, DLA Piper, Henkel GCC, Summer Town, SamTech, Research In Motion, Al Gurair Group, Mashreq Bank, Siemens Middle East, Unilever, Puma, Freshfields, Alpen Capital and Landmark.
According to a survey carried out by the Centre for Responsible Business at Dubai Chamber, only 24.2% of Dubai companies have a policy or strategy that provides guidance to their community engagement and philanthropic contributions.
The survey further informed that 60% of companies showed lack of awareness on CSR while 36% of companies support employee volunteering.
The Workplace Wellness Task Group includes DLA Piper, Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding LLC, PepsiCo, Aramex, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L, TNT, ABB, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, ZAFCO, Du, Axiom, Landmark, Research In Motion and Mashreq Bank. This group is developing specific workplace wellness initiatives and will collect and publish best practices in a manual.
The Community Engagement Task Group includes DLA Piper, Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding LLC, PepsiCo, Aramex, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L, TNT, Johnson and Johnson, ABB, Henkel GCC, Research In Motion, Siemens Middle East and Mashreq Bank will publish a ‘How to Guide’ for strategic community investment and will organise a workshop in September on How to Develop a Community Strategy`.
The Waste Management and Resource Efficiency Task Group which includes Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding LLC, PepsiCo, Aramex, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L, ABB, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Axiom, Henkel GCC, Landmark and Summer Town will launch a series of expert and learning session on resource efficiency, various building codes and waste management as well as a public document on the subject which will be taken forward with relevant governmental stakeholders.
The Integrating CSR into Business Strategy Task Group includes Aramex, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L, TNT, ABB, Axiom, Henkel GCC and Summer Town. This group will document the process of implementing CSR/sustainability within an SME and big organisations based on the developed framework while organising awareness campaigns to communicate on the lessons leant.
The Employee Volunteering Task Group including DLA Piper, Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding LLC, Pepsico, Aramex, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, TNT, ABB, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, ZAFCO, Du, Axiom, Research In Motion and Mashreq Bank plans to issue an employee volunteering guidebook and a tailored training workshop in October on how to develop and manage employee volunteering programme.
The Centre for Responsible Business, which was formed in 2004, is the longest standing center promoting business responsibility in the UAE. The Centre not only assists Dubai Chamber members to apply responsible business practices that enhance performance and competitiveness but also offers a variety of educational, professional training and consulting services that are designed to build individual companies' capacity to implement broad CSR programmes including business ethics, sustainability reporting and corporate governance.