CSR Middle East, CSR dedicated platform with 3.475 corporate members in the Middle East.

The point of CSR in the FM (Facility Management) industry

There is undoubtedly an increasing awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Middle East, but the concept still needs to be integrated into the core corporate values of the companies here.

The government sector, and multinationals in particular, have made a significant contribution in this regard and are helping to increase awareness of the benefits of CSR.

CSR is gaining importance among the corporate sector because of increasing scrutiny from society about the role of businesses and their impact on environment and sustainability. This is intensifying the pressure on the corporates to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Businesses often exercise discretion in meeting CSR commitments. They can choose to fulfil or shirk their responsibilities as there is no real enforcement of the policies in this part of the world. Unfortunately, this means there is no punishment, if you like, for ignorance or negligence of economic and social responsibilities.

According to a study done in the UAE, the most common CSR activities are corporate philanthropy and Emiratisation. Emiratisation involves efforts in bringing nationals into the labour force by providing education and training to prepare them for the work place and set them up with potential job opportunities.

Corporate philanthropy includes donating large amounts of cash to charitable organisations or at the time of natural disasters. However, environmental concerns and employee health and safety are also becoming important corporate CSR initiatives.

Companies can develop sustainable CSR initiatives, targets or goals that may include implementation of energy efficient measures; use of sustainable products and services; best practices in health and safety; implementation of techniques to recycle or reduce water consumption; and recycling activities to offset waste management costs.

In the FM sector many companies, like EFS for instance, offer technical expertise and services to the communities that require them, as a part of their CSR initiatives. We have redefined our vision by going beyond economic performance and moving towards a wider responsibility to the environment and society in particular.

The company has established a comprehensive mechanism and programmes to contribute towards the development of the local workforce so as to ensure its CSR responsibility to support local development. For example, we plan to open our Learning and Development Centre in Dubai Investment Park in order to tailor FM technical training for Emirati graduates.

Today, organisations are adopting best practices and are encouraging innovation across the business as part of CSR strategies. This can be positive in helping to recruit new staff and retain existing staff.

Similarly, working with non-profit bodies such as charities and voluntary organisations can swing a company’s decision to invest or partner with the FM as it sees the company as responsible.
EFS recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bait Al Khair Association in Dubai, one of the leading non-profit organisations in the UAE.

As a part of the MOU, EFS will adopt a building, and deliver FM services to the charitable organisation for free. Of course, there are challenges involved with engaging a CSR policy. As mentioned earlier, lack of legislative direction means many companies choose not to enforce it.

At the same time those that want to enforce it are frustrated due to the lack of guidelines to work with. Lack of funding is yet a further barrier.

Innovative companies understand that when strategic initiatives are tied to their business’ core competencies, it results in an effective CSR program which nurtures trust with the employees and community, creating a win-win for all parties involved.

Forward thinking companies will appoint a CSR team that is able to enforce clear objectives and strategies at every organisational level, a team that fully understands that while describing the CSR goals and managing the interests of the key stakeholders within the civil society is the most challenging part, it is absolutely necessary.

With a committed management and a strategic approach, FM companies can contribute towards the well-being of society as a whole.

Bio: Firas Al Tamimi is CSR ambassador, EFS.Link

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