You often hear Company X planted a tree as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, and Company Y painted a school wall… it made the kids smile right? Well, if company X was the World Wildlife Fund and Company Y was Faber-Castell, they are on the right track. If not, here are a few thoughts on the matter…

The general concept of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Middle East is still growing, and is gaining popularity day by day. Companies from all sectors are adopting a cause and launching full-fledged campaigns to communicate it amongst their stakeholders. But how effective are their efforts?

Well, not all companies with an agenda are succeeding. The reason being that the activities they are choosing are not directly tied to their business, nor are they sustainable. So let’s begin with laying the groundwork for characteristics of successful CSR programs:

  • It should have a clear strategy that aims at societal impact and can measure it
  • Long term and sustainable actions with regular updates and quantifiable achievements
  • A transition from donations, to capitalizing on the expertise and resources of the organization while engaging its own people

The aim should be to use the firm’s expertise and resources to maximize the positive impact it makes on people’s lives, thus building a more prosperous and sustainable society. For example, if your area of business is focused on finance, why not create a financial literacy program for the youth? One company has already succeeded in that…

Young people, also known as ‘Millenials’, are most concerned with CSR, and believe in the potential of the corporate sector playing a positive role in society.

Their concerns were voiced in a recent ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, in which, they identified the top challenges that they foresee to be facing society in the next 20 years. Amongst the challenges that came in on top were: resource scarcity, inflation, ageing populations, unemployment, social unrest and climate change.

In that light, seeing that Millenials are in fact the future leaders, perhaps their views, concerns and foreseen challenges need to be taken into consideration. CSR programs can be formed around each of the above factors, based on a company’s area of expertise.

Each region and country has its own set of challenges. In the Middle East, based on World Bank studies, we can identify one of our regional challenges to be bridging the unemployment gap.

By Ceem Haidar
Public Relations regional leader, Deloitte Middle East