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Special Report: Editor's comment: New dimensions in Corporate Social Responsibility

by Martin Menachery on Mar 26, 2018


Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

By definition, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders involved. As a broad concept, CSR addresses a versatile list of subjects like environmental impact, health and safety, corporate governance, human rights, contribution to the economic development of the community, etc., with the ultimate goal of driving positive changes towards sustainable development.

The utmost result of practising CSR as a corporate culture is that it encourages organisations to be genuinely aware of the impact of their actions on the rest of the society, including their stakeholders as well as the environment.

CSR initiatives are implemented differently by each organisation as well as region. Earlier, philanthropy was perceived worldwide as CSR, but later on, the concept has moved beyond that, and has got integrated into the key business strategy of organisations, with the level of this integration differing from region to region.

Generally speaking, there are still many companies in the Middle East which still consider philanthropy as the only CSR initiative. But, it is interesting to note here that the upstream and downstream energy industry organisations in the Middle East are far ahead in initiating unique CSR campaigns and driving CSR as an element of the organisation’s key business strategy.

This has resulted in most of the regional energy enterprises hiring CSR experts and creating new departments for CSR. Overall, the Middle East industry is in agreement with the need for the CSR agenda, but elements like budget allocations and key accountabilities are yet to become common practice. At the same time, CSR is transparently and accountably integrated into the value, culture, decision making, strategy and operations of the Middle Eastern upstream and downstream energy industry organisations.

The CSR endeavours of our Knowledge Partner (pages 30-31) for this Special Report – Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) of Kuwait – range from improving access to healthcare to reducing its environmental footprint. PIC respects the interests of its stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, teaming partners, and the wider community – and the company actively seeks out opportunities both to improve the environment and to contribute to the well-being of the communities in which it does business.

The most striking CSR initiatives from the Middle Eastern organisations are attributed to the energy industry companies from the UAE. As mentioned in our Market Focus column (pages 28-29), the energy industry companies in the UAE are vigorously promoting CSR campaigns to encourage clean energy, sustainable development, and community engagement.

The column elaborates on the ADNOC-UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation partnership agreement to sponsor the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships, ENOC joining hands with Dubai Cares to support the 6th edition of ‘Volunteer Emirates’ programme, and Borouge’s recent environmental walkathon boosting public awareness on the best practices in disposing waste, as three recent examples of out-of-the-box CSR initiatives by the UAE companies.

Another interesting point to mention here is that, on 18 December 2017, ENOC Group launched its first Sustainability Performance Report with the region’s first sustainability performance index for the oil and gas sector in the Middle East to chart and monitor ENOC’s performance over three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.

A major milestone was achieved by the United Arab Emirates by a cabinet resolution released on 5 February 2018 by the Ministry of Economy, in relation to CSR in the country, aiming to develop a framework and guidelines for the management of contributions made by the companies as part of their social responsibility activities.

It is interesting to note that the Middle Eastern energy industry is spearheading the CSR agenda of the region more aggressively than other sectors by releasing sustainability reports and creating KPIs to measure their CSR initiatives. As CSR budget allocations and integration with the key business strategy of the organisations fall in place in due course, Corporate Social Responsibility will become a pillar of the corporate culture of the Middle East upstream and downstream industry, in the near future.


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