Firms told charity begins at home
Forget posing with a giant cheque if you abuse your own staff
Companies happy to hog the spotlight with charity cheques or principled presentations must ensure they practice what they preach - and treat their own staff well.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the latest business buzz term - with firms encouraged to engage with schools and charities in a bid to be a positive part of their communities.
However a CSR expert at a conference in Dubai yesterday told 7DAYS that too many firms in the UAE are happy to shout about their good deeds, while mistreating their staff behind closed doors.
From confiscating passports to charging hotel maids the full room rate if there’s even a cigarette butt left in the bin - too many companies in the UAE are indulging in completely unethical behaviour, according to the boss of a CSR consultancy.
“Charity starts at home,” Tamer Hussein, president and founder of iLearn, told 7DAYS.
“Are you making workers do 12-hour days seven days a week with no day off? Are you confiscating passports from people… If you really want to talk about CSR - then these are some of the completely unethical practices that go on,” he says.
Hussein says firms in the UAE are better than those in other Gulf countries when it comes to doing right - but there’s still a long way to go.
“The intention is there but not the execution,” he says. “If the cash register is short of money do you deduct money from [a worker’s] salary? Which is what everybody is doing.
“The poor cashier may be getting Dhs1,800 a month but if it’s 10 or 50 or 1000 dirhams short… they have to pay that back out of their pocket,” Hussein claims.
“Some of these hotels, if there’s a cigarette butt left in the rubbish bin - then the rental from that room is deducted from the housekeeping staff.”
But many big names in the UAE are at pains to go the extra mile. Earlier this year, Ibrahim Al Zu’bi went to his board at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, owner of Mall of the Emirates, and asked for Dhs22 million for CSR. He got it.
“It makes money,” says the head of corporate social responsibility at the Dubai-based firm.
The UAE mega-firm implemented savings of energy and water at their buildings, changed the lights used at their hotels and conducted a newly improved waste recycling initiative from its malls.
“We believe CSR should be imbedded in a company’s investments and policies,” Al Zu’bi says.