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CSR should be corporate core business, say experts

Integrating CSR with corporate core business to achieve sustainability is needed, according to CSR experts.
With the attendance of more than 500 CSR officials and companies, Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed inaugurated the third round of Corporate Social Responsibility Forum at the Park Hyatt in Jeddah yesterday.
Asya Al-Ashaikh, founder of Tamkeen Sustainability Advisers, addressed a session entitled “The role of CSR in brand-building,” focusing on building brand trust through CSR programs.
“It is very important to know the impact of the CSR programs on the brand-building of the company. It is essential that CSR has a very strong effect on brand-building. Most companies are running CSR programs that are random and not integrated with core company business. Linking the CSR programs with the companies’ main business is needed to achieve sustainability,” she said.
“What we have seen today in the forum is several figures that only show the budgets that have been specialized for CSR programs, yet few people benefit from the CSR program,” she said.
According to Al-Ashaikh, adopting a CSR strategy that grows within the strategy of the company and that is linked with corporate financial profit has yet to be achieved in Saudi Arabia.
“Some companies think that the random CSR initiative that they launch is enough, but unfortunately, these random initiatives are affecting the company negatively. For example, Apple Inc. has carried out several CSR programs but has ignored two factors: exporters in China and staff members. Ignoring Apple employees in China led to the poisoning of more than 137 employees. Moreover, Apple ignored relations with customers in China. This affected the Apple trademark in China and worldwide,” she said.
“In the Kingdom, we still don’t have enough awareness of CSR programs to investigate the companies that present poor CSR plans,” she said.
Another session entitled “Achieving a triangular partnership in social responsibility,” focused on formulating a national agenda for social responsibility, synchronizing corporate CSR programs and initiatives with social issues of prime concern, exploring the role of civil society and charity and studying the impact of activating public and private sector partnership on overall social development. Dr. Faysal Al-Aquil, director of business development and head of CSR department at the Construction Products Holding Company, announced the need for having a CSR convention to achieve sustainability.
“The phenomenon of CSR forums had been expanded widely, while the implementation tools are not determined yet. However, we have to adopt CSR programs as a national sustainable strategy. This required cooperation between government and private sector,” he said.
“I have been asking for creating a convention for CSR since last year, but there is no response till today. Achieving sustainable development is the main goal of CSR aiming to have environment protection, health and education willingness, and human rights and fight corruption. Today I recall again for issuing a convention that ensures the CSR benefits on the society,” he added.

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