Recently the UAE established a new UAE Corporate Social Responsibility Fund that raises the bar for companies to adopt more meaningful and purpose-driven social impact initiatives.
This move makes a powerful statement that companies share the same expectations and responsibilities as nations for the wellbeing of the people. And others in the region are likely to follow.
Governments recognize the massive shadow corporations cast over society in general, in both positive and negative ways: access to energy and clean water, clean air, women empowerment, child welfare, capacity development, governance and anti-corruption, fair trade, infrastructure development.
And this responsibility is not limited directly to company operations. It extends across the entire supply chain.
The social purpose challenge facing companies today is not how to get PR value from a CSR initiative. It’s about finding the intersection where business interests and social interests meet, with the investments made by companies mutually benefitting all involved.
Corpore social purpose initiatives should equally strengthen the core foundation of a company as well as fabric of the communities and broader societies where it does business. In other words, companies should follow the premise that a rising tide lifts all boats.
So how to find that intersection? Here are a few key points we look at when developing social impact programs:
Organic to the Business … Developed with and by people in the business in a way that is true to corporate principles/values while also having a direct link to business impact.
Engages Employees in Development & Execution … This is an important element to your employee engagement initiative in that it instills and reinforces core corporate values while enabling your people to feel like they are involved in and helping make an impact on their communities.
Direct Community Engagement & Impact … External partners add reach and credibility. Geared for both business impact and greater commitment to helping sustain the program over time.
Has an “End Game” that is Measurable … A strong CSR program should have a component that enables you to measure and/or demonstrate actual results and impact.
Is Interesting & “Mediable” … There’s nothing wrong with getting credit for your actions. Your initiatives should have strong news generating ability and social media impact potential to deliver both awareness among stakeholders and participants.
This new level of social responsibility and engagement should be applied equally to multinational and domestic entities. But it is particularly relevant to multinationals operating in and benefiting from the massive opportunity of emerging and new growth markets.