Dubai, UAE: Businesses in Dubai investing in corporate social responsibility were able to respond more effectively to new challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Centre for Responsible Business.
The survey, conducted in May and June 2020, revealed that the Dubai businesses community quickly responded during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak by safeguarding employee health, safety and wellbeing and putting processes in place to ensure business continuity.
Overall, the transition for businesses to remote working was smooth thanks to a number of factors such as digital preparedness, advanced IT infrastructure and digital savvy employees. Surveyed organisations highlighted the importance of top management in reassuring employee safety and job security while working from home, while ensuring healthy interaction with peers and physical and emotional wellbeing.
In response to restrictions on face-to-face meetings and events, companies quickly adapted by shifting employee volunteering activities to digital platforms, leading organisations to explore new ways to give back to their communities and maximise social impact.
Organisations surveyed during Covid-19 emphasised the importance of institutional guidelines introduced by authorities in advising the business community on measures that should be implemented to ensure employee safety.
For the most part, companies put environmental issues were put on the backburner as they dealt with the impact of Covid-19 and shifted their focus to internal matters. Referring to recent CSR activities, respondents said they considered such efforts as an obligation or “the right thing to do”, as opposed to an initiative designed to improve their reputation.
The study analysing businesses’ responses to Covid-19 is a follow up to an in-depth report recently published by Dubai Chamber entitled Corporate Social Responsibility in Dubai: Current Practices, Challenges and Future Opportunities,which revealed that more businesses are now consistent and systematic in their approach to CSR and engage in CSR initiatives aligned with business strategies.
Growing CSR awareness
More than half of the surveyed organisations had a formal CSR policy and 65.7% of organisations had a dedicated department or officer to manage CSR. Among the organisations that participated in the 2019 CSR survey, 62% of respondents reported a highly mature approach to employee involvement and this figure increased to 70% when in relation to health and safety.