Corporate Social Responsibility in Qatar

Where  is it Going?

The approach to social issues is changing. Qatari organisations, which have traditionally supported disadvantaged groups through philanthropy, through donating money to charities, are shifting their stance and increasingly addressing these issues through sustainable strategic, their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

This means that CSR is on everyone’s lips these days. But Informa research has shown that organisations are facing some challenges as they strive to implement CSR initiatives.

The first challenge surrounds the meaning of the term Corporate Social Responsibility.

  • CSR means different things to different people, and to different organisations
  • In the Middle East the form CSR takes is fundamentally different from that it takes in the West.
    – In the Middle East CSR is being used to address social and economic  issues which are perceived to be hindering development.
    – In developed nations it is usually viewed as being designed to appeal to strong consumer sentiment through initiatives aimed at environmental sustainability.

CSR initiatives to support social entrepreneurship have the potential to make profound positive differences to Qatar and its social development. These CSR initiatives do not merely address social issues, but they also provide a return on investment (ROI) to the companies. That said, the ROI on CSR programmes can be difficult to measure and, to be successful, companies need to take a long term, strategic approach to CSR. The benefits of such programmes can include:

  • Increased customer base (both breadth and depth)
  • Reduced costs through waste reduction and energy conservation initiatives, and
  • Attracting stakeholders, such as investors and partners, who share the same values.

Qatar’s runaway growth, driven by the oil and gas sector, has resulted in some environmental degradation, meaning that environmental sustainability is an important issue.

Social issues are also regarded as critical with record levels of lifestyle illnesses, such as obesity, and challenges related to education and training of Qatari youth to enable them to take their places in the Qatari workforce. Then there is the vexed question of migrant labour in the construction sector. Qatar has been the subject of considerable international criticism, which has led to improved conditions for some workers. The Qatari Government has announced a new law to guarantee that migrant workers are paid on time, but its introduction has been postponed until 2 November 2015.

The next blog post will cover the challenges faced by companies implementing CSR initiatives in Qatar.

This report was produced by Informa Research for the CSR Qatar Summit which will take place from 23 -25 November 2015 in Doha, Qatar. For more information, visit www.csrsummitqatar.com