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Arabia CSR Award – recognizes CSR and Sustainability Champions from the Gulf, Levant and North Africa

Why is there an emerging consciousness on the part of corporations to do more than just conduct business in the usual way? Why are businesses visibly making a conscious effort to shed tunnel vision and edge closer to inclusive, collaborative relationships with non-business actors?  Does business really have a business beyond business? These are questions that many professionals and business leaders ask themselves.  The most obvious answer seems that business not only sees value in it but associates this approach with long term, sustained success. And as the power of corporations grows and its ability to impact people and the planet becomes clearer, business is compelled to carve a role for itself that goes beyond the economic realm.

Businesses are no longer investing in social responsibility because of philanthropic or altruistic purposes. They are doing it because it helps them identify new market opportunities, reach out to new investors and partners, reduce costs through efficiency, manage risks and opportunities, and innovate. Business leadership in the future will be in the hands of those that have a deep understanding of the nexus between globalization and sustainable development, and how to make business work amid growing complexities and challenges. This change in thinking is already driving businesses to reach out to multiple external stakeholders and engage in addressing social and environmental issues, internally as well as externally. Thus businesses are gaining visibility as corporate citizens, and expected to enact a set of social responsibilities.

The Arabia Corporate Social Responsibility Award was instituted by the Arabia CSR Network in 2008 to recognize companies in the Arab world that demonstrated a commitment to social and environmental issues. Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is a term that draws attention to practices that are based on a range of ethical considerations such as environment, governance, transparency, human rights,  broadly clubbed together as ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues. The Arabia CSR Network is engaged in promoting and highlighting ESG good practice among businesses in the Middle East.

Starting in 2008 the Arabia CSR Award gradually outgrew its scope and boundary. It became a well reckoned regional CSR initiative across the whole of the Middle East, offering a learning, recognition and networking platform to interested businesses. It now encompasses the Gulf, Levant and North Africa regions, and is open to businesses of all sizes and sectors that operate within this geography. In 2013 the competition is in its sixth cycle, and is being convened under the aegis of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman & CEO, Emirates Group, Chairman, Dubai Airports. The Arabia CSR Award is supported by a set of international and local partners that includes the United Nations Global Compact, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), and the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG).

The award criteria are benchmarked against reputed global sustainability standards such as the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles, EFQM and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework. The application structure has evolved over the years in response to the growth of the initiative, and currently allows for 6 categories: - Large (companies with over 500 employees), Medium (companies with over 100 employees), Small (companies with under 100 employees), Public Sector (public service agencies and government departments – noncommercial), New Business (in operation for less than three years) and Corporate-NGO Collaboration (a partnership project). Applications are assessed by an independent jury of global and regional experts on CSR and Sustainability.

So far the Arabia CSR Awards have drawn in close to 400 applications from hundreds of businesses spread out across 13 countries, representing more than 25 industry sectors. Among winners of the fifth cycle were organizations from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine and UAE that included Kuwait National Petroleum Company, Dubai Customs, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority(DEWA), Abu Dhabi Police, Al Futtaim Carillion, Henkel FZCO, The Specialty Hospital, Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, DLA Piper Middle East LLP, Canon Middle East FZ-LLC, Royal Industrial Trading Company, WSP Middle East, Bank Sarasin-Alpen, Blossom Nursery, Tiger Profiles & Insulation LLC, ABB LLC Oman, Boeing International, BLC Bank SAL, Etisalat Egypt and Arab African International Bank. The Arabia CSR Award has also spawned a best practice compilation featuring winners of each cycle, which is a useful resource tool on CSR and Sustainability implementation.  

The 6th Arabia CSR Award will be concluded with a full day forum on the theme ‘ Driving Sustainability Through Corporate Citizenship’ and a presentation gala in the evening on October 24. The annual forum has been a regular crowd puller, gathering together from all over the world, Sustainability and CSR experts, think tanks and practitioners, leaders from business councils, diplomatic missions, government, business and civil society; - in short anyone with an interest in inclusive growth and sustainable development. Keynote presentations in the past have come from Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of the Foundation for the Global Compact, Herman Mulder, Chairman of the Board, GRI (Global Reporting Initiative); Bengt Johansson, Ambassador for Corporate Social Responsibility at the Swedish Government  among others, and a selection of C-suite leaders from companies across the Arab Region.  

The Arabia CSR Network encourages organizations of all sectors and sizes from the MENA region to embark on this journey of self-discovery and improvement. Interested parties can register at http://www.arabiacsrnetwork.com/questionnaire2013/login.php. Submissions of applications will end on the 30th of June, 2013 at 5pm (UAE time). The Arabia CSR Network team will be available to answer queries or doubts on the Awards application and can be reached Saturday-Thursday at 04 344 8969 or by email at admin@arabiacsrnetwork.com.


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