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UAE tops MENA region as most active in CSR

Cicero & Bernay Public Relations and YouGov launch first annual regional corporate social responsibility survey report.

The UAE has emerged as a regional leader in awareness and the adoption of corporate social responsibility practices following the findings of the first annual MENA CSR Survey Report 2020, conducted by leading Dubai-based communication agency Cicero & Bernay Public Relations (C&B) in partnership with YouGov, an international research and data analytics group. The C&B YouGov report was designed specifically to identify the importance of CSR across select countries in the GCC, Levant and North Africa — with the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt headlining the results.

In total, 219 C-suite executives and corporate leaders across the MENA region that included the UAE, the KSA, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and who were hand-picked due to their position and their contribution to their respective sectors, including government, aviation, automotive, banking and finance, construction and real estate, healthcare and transport. The respondents were asked a series of CSR-related questions that were revisited in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic to gauge perception.

Key findings of the report:

  • 82 per cent of UAE respondents ranked the UAE as the most active country in CSR.

  • 62 per cent of respondents across the GCC and Levant are well-informed of CSR.

  • 60 per cent would not collaborate with companies that are not socially responsible.

  • 1 in 5 executives said companies with CSR plans appealed to job seekers.

  • 80 per cent of UAE decision-makers positively changed their perception of CSR during Covid-19.

Ahmad Itani, founder and CEO of C&B and chairman of PRCA MENA, said: “CSR is not just a moral responsibility that we practise and support at C&B; it’s a given through which we believe no company could afford to operate without. The findings of this report reveal that the UAE has made a significant and leading contribution in ensuring the vitality of CSR, which has thus far played a crucial role during a pandemic that continues to impact every individual, company and sector on a global scale.”

Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov, commented: “The importance of such reports is to inspire companies to keep CSR as part of their plans, and we are pleased to see that these practices are leading the way in the UAE. Our research indicates that corporate social responsibility is becoming embedded in corporate culture and the workforce. Senior decision-makers in these markets have a good knowledge and understanding of CSR, especially those in the UAE. It is clear that many C-Suite leaders believe it shapes the trust in companies, with many saying they personally will not buy a product that is not socially responsible.”

“Due to the pandemic, governments across the globe will now be held more accountable for the safety of their citizens, and economic downturns will test authorities’ actions, compassion and support for their people. Hence, CSR will be listed as a priority on the agenda of public companies and governments,” Stephan added.

After the pandemic hit, effectively changing the way businesses were conducted, additional questions were added to the survey. Respondents were asked how the spread of Covid-19 had affected their corporate social responsibility efforts or their budgets across the MENA region. The findings revealed that most executives had a positive sentiment towards CSR, with 46 per cent stating that they would scale up their CSR activities in 2021.

Ahmad Itani continued: “We believe in the importance of implementing CSR by entities across different sectors, and we are proud that companies and individuals in the UAE are working towards achieving the objectives of the UAE National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing. The survey’s findings are a testament to the growing trust between brands and consumers, and we encourage companies to follow suit, sustain and nurture these relationships moving forward in support of their employees, communities, and the nation as a whole.”

For the full report findings and further insights, you may download by clicking on the following link:

First-Annual Regional CSR Survey Report