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Drive encourages business to donate to education

A new campaign encouraging businesses to commit 20 per cent of their global corporate social responsibility (CSR) spend on education by 2020 was launched at the Global Education Skills Forum in Dubai on Monday.

As part of the Business Backs Education campaign, which comes in partnership with Unesco and the Global Business Coalition for Education, the private sector will be challenged to double its CSR spend on education initiatives to reach $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) by March 2015, prioritising countries and groups most in need. The campaign also aims to establish a more robust baseline on global corporates donating to education and a sharper analysis of where the spending is going in terms of countries and education areas that benefit.

“It is not about the business image, it is about the future as global companies depend on the workforce and finding the right people is a key challenge. Instead of waiting for governments to take action businesses should take matters in their own hand,” Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEO of SAP AG and Co-chair of the campaign said.

Companies like SAP, Crescent Petroleum, PwC, Honeywell Group Nigeria, Majid Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Group and Equity Bank, Kenya, have initially signed up to the Business Backs Education campaign.

Speaking on behalf of one of the companies who are participating in the campaign, Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and co-chair of the campaign, said the campaign is important because the human workforce is the most valuable raw material to businesses.

Many more are expected to sign up at five summits to take place in London (agreed to be hosted by Mayor Boris Johnson), New York, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Dubai over the course of the year.

Each individual company that signs up to the campaign will have to adopt principles that include embedding ‘The Framework for Business Engagement’, developed by Unesco, the UN Global Compact, Unicef and the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

The first five-year initiatives for the campaign will include publishing a list of the top 30 listed companies ranked by their investment in education on each of the major financial exchanges as well as publishing a guide for businesses to have more effective and meaningful engagement with the K-12 education sector.

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