OPINION

Quest For CSR Beyond Charity

Ramadan is a month of introspection, a month of spiritual journeys and a month of connecting with your faith. For Muslims all over the world, it is a month of discipline and rigour. In this month we teach ourselves to refrain from worldly pursuits and dedicate ourselves to spiritual pursuits. Ramadan is also a month of giving and sharing. For companies this takes on a special significance, and typically we see organisations vying with each other to create the most distinctive Ramadan programme. Charitable initiatives, donations and acts of support are but all too common during the holy month. Often these practices are deemed as “CSR”, although they are more likely to be called corporate giving. Indeed social responsibility towards the community is an aspect of CSR, but it is not the only aspect within it. Just like an expert succinctly said, “Philanthropy without scale and sustainability is like any other bad business that will simply wither and die on the vine. “ Organisations that brand Ramadan philanthropic initiatives as CSR ought to move beyond this limited dimension, and adopt other practices that truly constitute CSR. CSR is undeniably a holistic concept, as much as corporate sustainability (CS) or corporate responsibility (CR) is. It encompasses all activities of the organisation that have a societal impact and an environmental implication. In that sense, any initiative that addresses an organisation’s impacts can be termed a CSR initiative, and if undertaken during this month can qualify to be called a Ramadan initiative. The Arabia CSR Awards, by virtue of its attempt to highlight comprehensive best practices, helps to dispel common misconceptions about CSR and disseminate the correct definition. The Awards are the Arab Region’s best known accolade that distinguishes leading CSR practitioners from the rest, and showcases efforts and initiatives that have been implemented in the Arab Region itself. Hundreds of organisations have applied for this coveted award and only a handful has been selected. They have come from government and private, small and large, and for-profit and non-profit as well. They bring to light the myriad every day practices that these forward thinking organisations are taking up and the real impact that is being created as a consequence. No activity is too small if it deals with sustainability, and no philanthropic act, no matter how large, will be able to equal it if it is not linked to sustainability. So this Ramadan the message is to act responsibly rather than charitably. While charity is an act of choice, sustainability is an imperative. It is said of sustainability, "When sustainability is viewed as being a matter of survival for your business, I believe you can create massive change." Sustainability is the road to a change for the better, and let it guide every organisation to a successful future for them and for the society as well. Let Ramadan motivate us towards the fundamental changes that help us to become more sustainable and responsible.

-Mrs. Habiba Al Marashi,

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