80% of Mena executives expect increased CSR activities

Egypt and Saudi Arabia show strongest intent to expand CSR efforts


Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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Published: Thu 13 Jun 2024, 9:52 PM

Last updated: Sun 16 Jun 2024, 6:16 PM

Eighty four per cent of business leaders surveyed in the Mena region now recognize corporate social responsibility (CSR) metrics as integral to their strategic planning, ensuring a responsible and sustainable business model, a recent report showed.

According to Cicero & Bernay’s fourth Mena CSR Report, prepared in collaboration with CARMA International, CSR-driven companies are seeing a surge in consumer trust and loyalty, reflecting a growing preference for brands with robust ethical practices. 71 per cent of firms operate active programmes, with a further 24 per cent preparing to launch their initiatives.

The 2023 Mena CSR report surveyed over 340 C-suite and senior executives across the UAE, the KSA, Egypt, the Levant, and several other GCC countries. This comprehensive survey spans various high-impact sectors, such as technology & engineering, banking & finance, oil & gas, construction, healthcare, automotive, and real estate, showcasing a broad and diverse sectoral engagement in corporate social responsibility initiatives across the region.

This year, the report has been significantly enhanced to offer a more comprehensive analysis, now including industry-specific insights and providing detailed responses based on seniority and decision-making roles within companies. Additionally, the report offers more in-depth regional and industrial breakdowns, ensuring a thorough understanding of CSR impacts and trends across diverse sectors and geographies.

In Egypt, awareness and understanding of CSR grew the largest this year, increasing significantly from 84 per cent to 94 per cent.

Over 80 per cent of executives surveyed report a positive impact of CSR on customer engagement, profitability, and competitive positioning. This reflects a 110 per cent increase in sentiment compared to last year’s average of 38 per cent, which supports the view that CSR significantly enhances business outcomes.

Ahmad Itani, Founder and CEO of C&B.
Ahmad Itani, Founder and CEO of C&B.

As businesses globally face increasing pressure to operate sustainably and ethically, the Mena region steps into the limelight with pioneering initiatives that integrate environmental, social, and governance factors into the core of business operations. The 2023 report captures this pivotal transformation, marking a significant milestone in how regional businesses will approach ESG moving forward.

“Transitioning from CSR to ESG isn’t just a trend-it’s a transformative journey that cements our commitment to future generations,” said Ahmad Itani, Founder and CEO of C&B. “This report doesn’t just reflect where we are; it’s a beacon for where we’re headed, underscoring our dedication to fostering a sustainable and ethically-driven market landscape.”

Mazen Nahawi, Founder and CEO of CARMA International, said: “Our partnership with Cicero & Bernay is a reflection of the incredible potential lying within the Mena region. The rich tapestry of progress here is a story the world is still discovering, and through our collaborative efforts, we are not only highlighting the remarkable CSR achievements over the past year but also paving the way for future advancements in ESG and responsible business practices.”

Looking ahead, the report predicts that by the end of 2024, over 90 per cent of surveyed Mena businesses will have fully integrated CSR strategies into their operations, with significant advancements anticipated in environmental sustainability measures and governance transparency. The report also highlights a growing trend towards using advanced CSR metrics to track and report on sustainability efforts, providing stakeholders with clear and actionable insights into corporate performance.

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