Around 70 people from the business community, the government and organizations gathered on 23 October in the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce to exchange views on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at a seminar arranged by the Embassy of Sweden, the Swedish Trade Council, the Swedish Business Council, Arabia CSR Network and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration.
Representatives from ABB, Al Futtaim Carrillion, Atlas Copco, Etisalat, The One, Volvo together with Hawkama Institute for Corporate Governance talked about what they had done in the field of CSR and what the results were.
- CSR has sometimes been considered a moral obligation instead of a business opportunity but we rather see CSR as an important tool for differentiating ourselves and underlining the trustworthiness of the Volvo brand. It also makes us a more attractive partner and employer and we experience that the engagement with stakeholders and the society is a good way to explore and develop new products, markets and customer segments. In fact, CSR brings great potential to both making and saving money, said Mrs. Anna Norinder, General Manager at Volvo UAE and President of the Swedish Business Council.
Sweden's Ambassador for CSR, Mr. Bengt Johansson, spoke about lessons learned in Sweden and what the government and the business community have done to make Sweden a global forerunner in CSR.
- Even though the process of CSR should mainly be driven and be performed by the business Community, there are things governments can do. First of all, they can do their own talk and make sure that public entities and government-owned companies take lead in making and implementing strategies for CSR and in reporting on their CSR performance. They can have a continuous dialog with the business community on CSR, Ambassador Bengt Johansson said.
Ambassador Johansson highlighted that CSR really is about three P:s - people, planet and profit:
- We have to ensure good working conditions for the people working in companies and their families and communities. We share this planet and have to treat it well for the sake of future generations. By doing all this good and communicating it, companies may strengthen their brands and make greater profits. Today, consumers increasingly care about how goods or services are produced, he said.
The seminar focused on two topics - Advancing Transparency through Good Governance and Anti-Corruption and Human Capital Development through Innovative Employee Engagement.
Moderators for the two panel debates were Swedish Ambassador for CSR Mr. Bengt Johansson and the President of Arabia CSR Network Ms. Habiba Al Marashi. The seminar was a back-to-back event to the Arabia CSR Awards in Dubai the following day.