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3BL Associates Launches First Bahrain Responsible Business Report

3BL ‘Triple Bottom Line’ Associates (3BL), Bahrain’s first social impact and sustainability consultancy and think-do-tank, has released the results of the Bahrain Responsible Business Survey.

The research, which was launched in media partnership with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, the online journal of the Ivy League Wharton School of Business, is the first of its kind, and assesses the Kingdom’s responsible business landscape.

 

According to report, the most popular understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR)—chosen by 87 per cent of respondents—is community engagement.  Whereas, the most prevalent CSR activities—practiced by at least one third of respondents’ organizations—are: Community Engagement, Employee Wellness, Transparency, Corporate Governance, Health and Safety, and Gender Equality and Diversity.

Despite climate change being named among the top five global threats in 2013 by the World Economic Forum, the importance given to the environment among survey respondents was much lower than for social responsibility. Only 55 per cent of respondents cared whether or not the company they worked for was environmentally responsible, and only 26 per cent of respondents’ organizations engaged in environmental protection as part of their CSR.

“Since we launched 3BL in 2010, we have experienced the added challenge of creating a new market in a region in which CSR has been largely viewed through a marketing-donations-sponsorship lens; and sustainability an after-thought or weekend beach clean up,” said 3BL co-founder and Managing Director Leena Al Olaimy.  

“CSR and sustainability have far more value than just ‘doing good’, and have the potential to simultaneously contribute to national socio-economic development, and to raise Bahrain’s rankings on a number of indices such as the Global Competitiveness Index,” Al Olaimy added.

“The survey results are freely available for download on our website, and we hope that this report will inspire conversations in every boardroom in Bahrain—large and small—and that social responsibility and sustainability will climb the policy agenda in 2013,” Al Olaimy concluded.

Interestingly, respondents favoured government interventions regarding CSR: almost 80 per cent believed there should be government regulations requiring companies to implement CSR. While, 95 per cent believe the government should provide incentives for companies to implement CSR. And around 83 per cent of respondents agreed to some degree, that there should be government funding to support CSR.

 

In addition to the public sector’s role in incentivizing CSR, an overwhelming 97 per cent of respondents believed in the private sector’s ability to address important social issues facing Bahrain through CSR.

When it came to measurement of CSR and sustainability, the survey revealed that 65 per cent of respondents’ organizations did not publish CSR or Sustainability reports, and almost half of respondents (48 per cent) said they did not believe that their organizations would in the near future. Comparatively, two thirds of Fortune 500 companies report on sustainability. Other GCC countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia also outperform Bahrain in sustainability reporting.

Further information can be found by downloading the Bahrain Responsible Business Survey report on 3BL Associates website.

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Comment by Prodeep Mookerjee on March 14, 2013 at 1:11pm

To get further insight into the viability of Sustainability for corporations see:

https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/sustainability_ene...

Comment by Leena Al Olaimy on February 5, 2013 at 4:14pm

Thank you for all the words of encouragement--we worked very hard on putting this together with very little initial support. However, it is an important topic that needed to be highlighted and now that it is out there, we have already initiated conversations with corporate decision makers and policy makers. This is the first step on a long journey.

And I agree @Prodeep that we need to redefine our understanding of 'sustainable development'. While we ourselves fall short, we strive for regenerative development: using nature as model and mentor of life that regenerates and flourishes over billions of years rather than simply sustaining.

Comment by Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul on February 5, 2013 at 10:46am

Thanks to Leena and 3BL for their kind contribution. They did a great job. It is in our plan to provide such study for other parts of the region. It is great to see the first step coming from Bahrain. 

Comment by Prodeep Mookerjee on February 5, 2013 at 9:24am

3BL should be commended for giving us some insight into how organisations in Bahrain (and perhaps beyond?) view 'sustainability' in the context of their own activities and for opening an important debate.

Al Omaily's comment on the market view of CSR as 'largely viewed through a marketing-donations-sponsorship' lens rings true.

What do we understand by sustainability? If we set aside, for the moment, the contention that the concept of sustainable development is itself an oxymoron, we have to then work with variations of the basic idea put forward by the Brudtland Commission in 1987: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

With a focus on 'needs' rather than 'rights' and a contextual reference to our current understanding of economic activity, society and environment, it is widely recognised that there we are faced with an uncomfortable reality - the paradigm shift required for long term sustainability will come at a cost.

For organisations, working for profit outside the 'green economy', the choice is between short term profits and long term term sustainability, and the 'short term' is in years if not decades.

Little surprise then that beach parties and giving their own a 'fair deal' is the most that one can expect.

Societal change and international consensus is predicated and it seems that nothing will really be done till we all agree that our house is really on fire.

 

Comment by Linda Merieau on February 4, 2013 at 5:44pm

I look forward to reading this report. The summary already convinces me this a fantastic piece of work. 

Comment by Dr Wes Harry on February 4, 2013 at 4:50pm

An interesting report and good to see Bahrain taking a lead on the topic. Members who read the editorial by Ehnert and Harry in October 2012 may be interested in our book (with Prof Klaus Zink) being published by Springer in March 2013 on Sustainability and HRM.

Best regards,

Wes

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