x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Companies ignore social responsibility

Although the majority of companies in the country are aware of the impact of their business on society and the environment, "very" few engage in social responsibility activities, a new study has found.

ABU DHABI // Although the majority of companies in the country are aware of the impact of their business on society and the environment, "very" few engage in social responsibility activities, a new study has found. Researchers from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Sheffield University, in a study that covered all the seven emirates, found 66 per cent of companies in the UAE were realised the impact of their business on society. Yet, less than 10 per cent of them reported any achievements in social responsibility, conducted social and environmental audits or tracked the impact of their business on community and environment. Dr Peter Cleaves, the chief executive of the Emirates Foundation, which funded the research, defined corporate social responsibility (CSR) as "an organisation's commitment to behave ethically and contribute to the nation's economic development - while improving the quality of life of its workforce, their families and the local community".

"It is essentially a concept whereby organisations take responsibility for their impact on society and the environment," Dr Cleaves said. The study also found the financial crisis had a negative impact on CSR in the country, with more than a third of companies reporting the economic crisis would "delay progress in their efforts towards a socially responsible agenda". Professor Kamal Mellahi, professor of strategic management at Sheffield University, said most companies that did act provided immediate aid, such as cash donations, rather than long-term, sustainable charity works. "There is also a lack of coordination between companies when it comes to social responsibility," Prof Mellahi said. "Each one works in isolation." hhassan@thenational.ae