Mid East companies are still just dabbling in philanthropy
Rushika Bhatia

Mid East companies are still just dabbling in philanthropy

A leading consultant on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) says that too many companies in the Middle East are still just dabbling in philanthropy and are only just discovering community involvement partnerships.

Veronica Scheubel, an author, organisational consultant and lecturer on corporate sustainability, says the practice of community involvement is by no means uniform across all companies.

“As with so many other aspects of corporate life, there are the visionaries, the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority and the laggards,” says Scheubel, who is in Dubai to run an open course and master class on CSR/Sustainability. “The Middle East is, unfortunately, no different to the rest of the world.  What strikes me after more than 10 years of my own work in this area is that we still have players in every field! We have visionaries like IBM and Microsoft, early adopters like TNT and Nokia, many companies in the early majority, like Aramex, but shockingly, many companies still in the late majority that are still just dabbling in philanthropy and are only just discovering Community Involvement.”

“Then there are laggards that still claim community involvement is not relevant to them and that shareholder value is all that counts…which, to me, no longer works in a world with a changed social contract that asks for companies, governments and the civil sector to work together in partnership to find solutions to society’s most pressing problems and create positive value.”

The issue she adds is that those companies in the latter category don’t necessarily know how to put together a CSR strategy and build a sustainable CSR campaign and programme.

And that is one of the reasons Scheubel is in Dubai, in conjunction with Pinnacle, a specialist training company and management consultancy.

 “I am here to help expand the knowledge and innovation potential of those working in CSR – or those looking to embark on a CSR programme – and to impart the latest effective approaches in the industry. As I explain in my book, switching from aimless philanthropy to impactful community involvement is easy, if you know how to do it,” she said. “Moreover, in addition to focussing on CSR fundamentals, a Master Class will take place on 7 July designed to give the opportunity for people working in this area to come together, share best practice, talk about issues facing the industry and formulate ideas and strategies for what would work specifically within the region.”

Specialists from the GCC joining Scheubel to present case studies from their organisations include Belinda Scott, Business Planning & Strategy, National Bank of Abu Dhabi; Abdullah Al-Kahtani, Manager, Media & Investor Awareness, Capital Market Authority (KSA); Sana Bardawil, Regional Communications Director, Shell; Fatma Mohammed Noor Al-Khaja, Head of CSR, Dubai Customs and Wafa’ Tarnowska, CSR Manager Middle East, DLA Piper Middle East LLP.

Veronica Scheubel’s book ‘Corporate Community Involvement: The Definitive Guide to Maximizing Your Business’ Societal Engagement’ can be ordered online at www.cciguide.com.