CSR in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Corporate Social Responsibility board has played a key role in the kingdom’s business community over the past few years. Not only has it promoted the growth of the private sector and encouraged socially-minded business practices since its inception, but the board has also done so by raising awareness on CSR and the principles of corporate sustainability.
In the last few years, Saudi Arabia has shown great promise in the realm of CSR, as companies and businesses have come to rely on it increasingly to show their contributions to society. Sadly, the prevailing view of CSR is that of partaking in charity events and donating to certain causes, with the aim of using it to gain a competitive edge over other companies. So far, businesses in Saudi Arabia have been for the most part reluctant to consider CSR as a central theme of their business strategies.
There is a very promising future for sustainability practices in Saudi Arabia. There are, of course, many venues in which companies may invest in sustainability strategies, and Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage offers fertile ground for such strategies, what with its longstanding and well-rooted culture of giving, a frowing interest in CSR in the corporate community that promises to provide the momentum for the implementation of CSR, the Chambers of Commerce’s initiative in establishing committees for CSR, as well as increased government support to improve economic competitiveness alongside responsible business practices, and the growing foreign investment in Saudi Arabia by international corporations, leaders in CSR, who can share their practices and also support local communities.
To cite an example of CSR opportunities, the CSR board’s continuous study of the environment in KSA has revealed that there are four main areas of focus that need to be addressed by companies that wish to ensure sustainable development, and they are: Education, employment, youth development, and gender diversity. Of the four, education initiatives have shown to be the most important, with 87% of CSR experts saying that companies must address the issue, and it truly is important because it not only reflects on youth, but on employment, development, society, and on business as well.
Why Companies in Saudi Arabia Should Implement or Improve CSR Programs
If companies create a supportive environment for employees and an open culture of sharing ideas, this will lead to:
- Innovation to improve company processes and products
- Cost savings through efficiency and minimizing waste
- Long-term strategizing and business growth
- Customer engagement and loyalty
- Employee engagement, intrinsic motivation and retention Leadership development, especially for women
- Global outreach and brand awareness
- Innovation in CSR (programs unlike any other)