Sun 05-03-2017 20:08 PM
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a key pillar of the Year of Giving. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, who oversees the pillar, said: "Our goal in the Year of Giving is to enhance the role of the private sector as a key partner of the government in its comprehensive development efforts through encouraging companies to adopt a more effective CSR concept. The benefits are mutual – optimal implementation of CSR contributes to the development of the companies as well as to the sustainability and expansion of their activities within the framework of government support and constant media coverage."
"The development of any economic activity is directly related to its contribution to the development of the community and its economic, cultural and civilisational progress,"he added.
Under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility and government-private sector partnerships, the National Strategy for the Year of Giving has adopted 10 initiatives.
The first of them is the CSR Smart Platform – an integrated smart application that will direct the contribution of participating companies in line with the society’s priorities. The e-platform will serve as a coordination tool between companies and government entities while highlighting those development initiatives and projects that need support most urgently.
Another initiative is the CSR Coordination Forum that will help build partnerships between leaders in the private sector and the charity and humanitarian aid sector. Linked to the CSR Smart Platform as a complementary tool, the forum will provide a regular communication platform to exchange information and expertise, agree on priorities, and manage joint investments.
The third initiative is CSR Action Committees that will develop from the CSR Coordination Forum according to subjects of common interest to outline areas of cooperation between the private sector and non-profit organisations.
The fourth initiative is National Statistics on CSR that will identify and collect statistical data and research on CSR to observe current practices in the UAE and compare them to other countries, regularly publishing studies based on the results.
The fifth initiative is the annual National CSR Index that will rank companies in the UAE according to their contribution to CSR initiatives and projects.
Another initiative expected to have a major impact on companies’ activities is the Mandatory Disclosure of CSR, which will institutionalise CSR activities and link them to the renewal of trade licenses. The move will make it mandatory for companies to provide information about their social, financial and in-kind contributions.
The Responsible Procurement initiative will allocate a percentage of government contracts to companies that excel in CSR activities. This will require a modification in standards related to selecting contractors and suppliers.
The Annual Announcement of CSR Results will reveal the rankings of the National CSR Index and recognize top performers. Workshops will be organised to highlight the importance of CSR activities.
For its part, the CSR Mark will allow companies and institutions to showcase their outstanding social contributions.
Finally, the CSR Passport is a special passport granted to a limited number of distinguished companies that have excelled in translating their social responsibility to an effective partnership with the government to serve the society.
As for volunteerism, 11 comprehensive government initiatives and projects have been approved.
Najla Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development, said: "The National Strategy for the Year of Giving aims to enhance the importance of volunteering as a human value that reflects the values underpinned by the Year of Giving and nurtures individuals’ sense of responsibility. It also seeks to invest individual skills and energies in volunteering programmes and activities that benefit society."
"These initiatives and the opportunities that will impact all segments and serve all development and humanitarian areas seek to organise volunteerism on the individual and corporate level and make it a way of living in the UAE society. Volunteering is certainly a significant contributor to the national economy and social well-being,"she added.
The volunteerism initiatives and projects as highlighted by Al Awar include the National Volunteerism Platform, a comprehensive online database that contains personal information of volunteers, their interests, expertise, and areas of specialisations. Listing available volunteering opportunities and programmes and volunteering hours, the database will contain a list of entities that attract volunteers and entities that benefit from volunteering work, as well as the required skills and expertise. The platform is a smart application that coordinates and organizes volunteerism work across the UAE. Another initiative is the National Volunteerism Center, a federal government umbrella that coordinates volunteering work in the country. The center provides training to volunteers, conduct statistical studies, and publish reports on volunteerism in the UAE.
In an effort to enhance volunteerism in the UAE, the National Programme for Qualifying and Training Volunteers has been approved. Aiming to develop training and educational programs for volunteers in diverse areas to empower them with the requisite skills, the program targets active as well as potential volunteers from among the citizens and residents of the UAE. In order to utilise and invest specialised expertise, the strategy has also adopted the Specialised Volunteerism Program, which is the first of its kind in the country and encourages specialists and professionals, such as physicians, engineers, and technicians, to volunteer their time and experience to entities that require a certain specialised skill.
Other initiatives under the Volunteerism umbrella include Volunteerism Opportunities in Government Entities, which stipulates local and federal government entities to outline volunteering opportunities to all social segments, including specialised volunteering. Another one is Engaging Government Employees in Volunteerism by setting out plans and mechanisms that motivate local and federal government employees to volunteer. The System for Corporate Disclosure of Volunteering Activities aims to evaluate corporate volunteering work in the UAE through comparing the number of companies’ employees to annual volunteering hours.
Volunteerism Giving Points is an initiative that seeks to recognise volunteerism work and evaluate it according to points calculated based on the financial value, volunteering hours and other standards that will be included in the volunteerism file. These points will be shared with relevant entities and dispatched as financial or in-kind awards to volunteers. The Annual Volunteerism Celebration is an event that will highlight the experiences of volunteers and recognise their contributions.
The National Strategy for Volunteerism 2021 will be prepared and implemented by government, private and civil organisations and entities. It will conduct a comprehensive study on volunteerism to enable the UAE to becomes a regional and global leader in volunteering.
One of the leading initiatives under the volunteerism umbrella is adopting the Volunteerism Curriculum as a national strategic initiative that aims to teach volunteerism at schools and nurture this noble value in students through inculcating an awareness on the importance and types of volunteerism and providing them with exposure to leading charitable personalities.
One of the objectives of volunteerism in 2017 is to reach at least two million hours of general and specialised volunteerism, in addition to registering 200,000 volunteers in the UAE within a comprehensive database. These volunteers will represent all social and educational segments and backgrounds and may be deployed according to their experiences, with at least 200 entities to benefit from this volunteering work, leading to operational and administrational cost savings of around AED200 million in beneficiary entities.