Egyptian corporate responsibility: The way forward
Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Center (ECRC) in cooperation with the Industrial Modernization Centre (IMC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and SMEs organized a major event held on 22 June 2014 in Cairo under the title of “Egyptian Corporate Responsibility: The Way Forward” to present three case studies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and their recommendations.
The objective of this event was to ensure the effective communication of CSR concepts, mechanisms and to emphasize on CSR best practices to all stakeholders within different sectors to benefit from CSR strategic advantages. It also highlights ECRC’s efforts in the past years in supporting the private sector in attaining a path to responsible conduct and sustainable development. During the event, discussions also included the methodologies and steps that could be provided to companies in diversified sectors to facilitate the successful implementation and incorporation of CSR concepts within their companies.
In her opening Speech, UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Anita Nirody, assured that, “ECRC is there to support the private sector in their CSR efforts. The private sector in Egypt creates around 70% of jobs, yet we believe it can play a greater role in promoting decent jobs, green jobs and fighting poverty. The year 2015 is around the corner and Egypt committed to achieve the MDGs by that date - this will not happen by government or by civil society organizations alone, the private sector is a leader in this race. The private sector is also now engaged with UNDP in setting up the post 2015 MDG agenda”.
Sherine El Shorbagi, Director of IMC Sustainable Development Technical Assistance Director presented the three CSR diagnostic studies developed on three different sectors, namely: the agro-food sector, the textile industry sector and the financial sector. The main objective of these 3 studies was to identify the international CSR frameworks and best practices in each sector to measure them against local CSR contexts, in addition to identifying the level of CSR awareness and implemented activities in these different sectors.
The findings of these studies clearly outlined the diversity in CSR awareness level among the 3 sectors in both the private and public sector companies, civil society and the general public as a whole. Awareness entails knowledge, sustainability impact and the changes that occur in the world where the concept of CSR is dropping to be replaced by sustainability. As a result, several awareness sessions and training activities were implemented by the ECRC among different participants in the 3 sectors under study.
Milestone achievements are paving the way for ECRC to expand its work. These include Sharek.org, a volunteerism portal, launched by UNDP and ECRC few weeks ago in cooperation with key partners: AmCHAM, Ministry of Planning, Nahdet El Mahroussa, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Procter and Gamble (P&G) and IBM. ECRC is also working on the 2nd edition of the Business Solutions for Human Development Report. The report will focus on models of business engagements including sustainable business models & social entrepreneurship & how the private sector can contribute to meaningful and impactful development during the transition with clear focus on decent jobs, green jobs and poverty reduction.
As part of ECRC’s effort to promote gender equality, the Center is collaborating with UN Women to promote the GC’s Women Empowerment Principles. Equality means business; the principles as such promote health and safety of women in the workplace, gender parity, non-discrimination, equal opportunities and promoting women’s leadership. In this context, ECRC is working on a ‘Women on Board’ initiative in collaboration with the American University in Cairo (AUC) with the aim of improving gender balance of corporate boards in Egypt which is currently below 7%.
In addition, ECRC is also working with the Arab African International Bank on an initiative related to financial inclusion of the poor to improve their access to finance and give particular attention to promoting female access to credit.
The event gave an excellent opportunity for participants including CSR practitioners, NGOs, Government and Private sector to exchange experiences, learn and discuss different methodologies and steps that could be provided to companies in diversified sectors and facilitate the successful implementation and incorporation of CSR concepts within the private sector companies.
The Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Center was established in 2008 as a joint project between UNDP and the government of Egypt in follow up to the First International CSR Summit organized by UNDP and American Chamber of Commerce in December 2007 which also witnessed the launch of the first Business Solutions for HD Report that mapped the CSR context in Egypt and the gaps in promoting CSR. The Center’s mandate was to fill such gaps, encourage sustainable business practices, serve as a knowledge hub for CSR in Egypt & a platform of engagement between the public and private sector and finally to become a place to go for capacity building in the areas of CSR and corporate governance.