Corporate Sustainability: UAE Is On The Right Track, But Needs To Take More Steps

By CSR Pulse

The number of sustainability initiatives in the UAE is growing and that is an encouraging sign that more businesses think about the impact they are having. And yet, though more companies recognize the importance of corporate sustainability, in the 2013 Sustainability Leaders Survey conducted by GlobeScan/SustainAbility, not a single leader in the field could be named for the Middle East region. This indicates that while the idea of corporate sustainability is spreading among more businesses, these businesses are not engaging in initiatives that make the rest of the world take notice.

So, what does corporate sustainability actually mean? It is a continuous policy of managing opportunities and risks from economic, environmental and social endeavours as well as creating long-term shareholder value. It is also understanding the impact a company has on its surrounding environment and community and reducing any negative effects. This is done through initiatives that work for people and the planet, while also generating profit.

Though organisations are increasingly becoming aware of corporate sustainability’s meaning, just 35 of the many companies in the UAE are registered with the Global Reporting Initiative – an international non-profit organisation promoting economic sustainability. This poses the question of how to encourage more organisations to take corporate sustainability measures.

Statistics from Dubai’s Chamber Of Commerce show that 53.7% of companies in Dubai wish to embrace corporate sustainability and develop a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. But a vast number of companies claim their knowledge of CSR is insufficient. And a survey by the Middle East’s leading job site Bayt.com, indicates that 65.1% of companies in the region are not aware of CSR at all.

So what can be concluded from this? It is the job of organisations that understand and implement corporate sustainability into their work to educate those companies that lack the know-how and to inspire them to adopt it themselves.

To achieve this, more ways must be considered in which to raise awareness among companies. Real examples showcasing how companies in the region have successfully implemented corporate sustainability initiatives can be quite effective. They will make those companies that claim not to know what corporate sustainability is, understand its importance – something that is key to the future of the business and the future of their community and surrounding environment.

Embarking on the corporate sustainability journey, UAE’s corporations will reap various benefits, as having a good CSR policy helps create a better reputation, makes employees more committed and improves relationships with the community and stakeholders. It will also help make the transition to a greener economy benefiting, not just for corporate organisations but for the nation as a whole.