CSR Middle East, CSR dedicated platform with 3.515 corporate members in the Middle East.
CSR Middle East : Can you tell us a little bit about your background and experiences in the CSR Sector?
Ilaria Gualtieri : My education background is in international relations and modern history, I have always been interested in social sciences and the passion for CSR was a natural development. I was offered to collaborate to the organization of the first Qatar’s CSR Conference in late 2008, while after that I have collaborated with the Ministry of Business and Trade designing a national CSR project, studying international best practices and their best fit for Qatar’s social and economic environment.
The passage to the other side of the fence was sudden; I wanted to understand the drivers behind private sector commitment to CSR and investigate ways to incentive PP cooperation for the benefit of the broad community.
As Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultant at RasGas, my role is to lead all CSR activities with a specific emphasis on proactive creative approach, project management and the provision of strategic and technical advice. I personally feel blessed for the unique opportunity of supporting my company’s efforts to contribute to the wellbeing of our community. And I mostly love my job because it is always a new adventure, stimulate curiosity and involve sensitivity, creativity, diplomacy, and much more.
CSR Middle East : What does RasGas do in terms of CSR initiatives in Qatar? Can you tell us more about your activities.
Ilaria Gualtieri : Social responsibility is integral to RasGas businesses.
RasGas believes that as a global corporate citizen it is our responsibility to engage in positive corporate activities, contributing to society through our business, working to help address environmental issues and undertaking community contributions in a way that will guarantee the continued development of our community for the generations to come.
RasGas’ approach to CSR is to engage in a range of worthy causes aiming to make a sustainable and positive impact in the four spheres of community, education, environment and health (including sports). Through its unique four cornerstone approach, RasGas develops and implements initiatives to provide long-term financial and practical support ranging from social and economic initiatives to educational, environmental and healthy living programmes.
Each year, RasGas, based on research and current needs in the market, determines one of the cornerstones to be the focus of its CSR efforts. RasGas has marked 2011 as its Year of the Community to show its commitment to supporting worthy causes in Qatar and proactively work to meet the needs of its neighbours.
CSR Middle East : What are some effective ways for a business to become more sustainable, especially in our region?
Ilaria Gualtieri : In my opinion, these are the main ingredients of a successful CSR strategy:
Firstly, be a “good corporate citizen/neighbor”
A successful CSR programme begins with the awareness of corporate management of its corporate “citizenship”, the social role that corporations naturally play in the society. This is fundamental to develop an effective corporate CSR culture and strategy
Focus on key areas & create long-term partnership
Businesses in the region have to raise the profile of their social investment and integrate their CSR programmes into their business operations, creating long-term value rather than considering CSR a pure philanthropic or PR exercise. This would help focusing on areas where companies could have a real impact, minimizing the efforts while maximizing the benefits.
Be proactive and establish two-way dialogue
A two-way dialogue with the community is a key element to help companies identifying the actual needs of the society. Proactivity, also related to good neighborhood, plays a fundamental part: reach out to key community leaders and representatives, government agencies, monitoring the activities of NGOs and CSOs, identifying specific stakeholders or groups, an ongoing interaction process can help companies shaping their CSR programmes, aiming at meeting the actual needs of the society while implementing activities in line with their business strategy
CSR Middle East : Would you please share with us best CSR practices from the region
Ilaria Gualtieri : I believe our region has a great potential to become a real CSR hub and develop its own way of promoting businesses responsibility toward the society, the environment and the same economies in which they operate.
I personally find the definition “corporate citizenship” more appropriate to define CSR in the Gulf region as it implies corporations are natural part of the society, have a role inside and within the community, bringing scent of the concept of neighborhood in Islam, its values and traditions which strongly permeate our daily life and contribute shaping the region-specifics of CSR.
ME, and Gulf in particular, could perfectly conjugate the principles of CSR with the harmonious growth of economies and society, pursuing the highest goals set to achieve a more sustainable society.
CSR Middle East : What do you think about CSR Middle East and your recommendations for future…
Ilaria Gualtieri : The real challenge for our region, and this platform, is to analyze and develop our own CSR doctrine, a model and related terminology that embrace local culture while developing regional corollaries to international corporate standards
It is also time for the Gulf region to develop a strong civil society stratum to professionally support the enthusiasm of corporations for CSR: companies can play a key role by partnering with public and private organizations. Public- Private dialogue, institution building, the creation of NGOs and CSOs could boost the cooperation with private sector and help shaping strategic corporate investments that bring long term benefits to local communities.
CSR ME could help creating awareness, extending and refining the recognition of social responsibility and the need for public-private effective partnerships, dialogue and advocacy… Inshallah