Etisalat Group To Adopt ISO 26000 and GRI Standards For Sustainability and Social Responsibility Across Asia, Middle East and Africa
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: May 28th, 2012 –Etisalat has announced its ambition to deploy international social responsibility and sustainability reporting standards including Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and ISO 26000 across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) works towards a sustainable economy by providing organisations with reporting guidance. It has pioneered and developed a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework that is widely used around the world. ISO 26000 is an ISO International Standard giving guidance on Social Responsibility and assisting companies in their efforts to operate in a socially responsible manner that society increasingly demands.
The Etisalat Group’s strategy was unveiled and launched in Dubai at the Group’s first Etisalat Social Investment Summit (eSIS 2012) attended by its senior management, operating companies and an array of stakeholders, including representatives from the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid, charities, and social responsibility experts and thought leaders. Nasser bin Obood, Chief Government Relations Officer and Ahmed bin Ali, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications led the proceedings which was also attended by senior representatives from Etisalat UAE, Afghanistan, Egypt, as well as Atlantic Telecom (Moov), PTCL and Ufone.
Commenting on the summit, Nasser bin Obood, Chief Government Relations and Corporate Communications Officer at the Etisalat Group, said: “As a multinational company and one of the top telecommunications corporations in the world today, Etisalat places significant importance on its contribution to society - it is a key pillar of our values as a company. To date we have undertaken a great many exceptional social initiatives across our global footprint, and we now need to take this a step further through our unyielding commitment to bringing our social investment reporting in-line with international standards, through GRI and ISO 26000.”
Engineer Ahmed bin Ali, Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications, Etisalat Group, added: “Social responsibility has always been key to our business decision-making and it is continuing to grow in importance for us, as we continue to grow our business. This summit is a testament to our commitment to uphold the highest ideals and standards in social responsibility, in terms of strategy, accountability and impact. A truly successful organisation is one that is also sustainable and I am very confident that we will greatly benefit from our clearer vision on social responsibility and coordination with internationally recognised guidelines.”
Presentations were given by Etisalat’s operating companies and a host of external speakers, such as The Boston Consulting Group, the CSR Arabia Network and the Emirates Foundation for Youth. Rob Steele, Secretary General of the International Standards Organisation (ISO), also delivered a recorded message to the Etisalat Group, supporting the company’s journey towards ISO 26000 compliance* whilst the Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid emphasised the important role multinational UAE companies play in supporting the reputation of the nation abroad.
Commenting on his participation at the event, Zaki Sirelkhatim, Manager of the Information Management Unit at the Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid, stated: “The UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA) appreciates the efforts of Etisalat in documenting their foreign aid activities, and encourages the UAE’s corporate community to document their foreign aid with the office as this contributes to raising the profile of the UAE as a major international donor. Providing development, humanitarian or charity aid by Etisalat and other private companies to countries in need around the world is testimony of the whole nation’s commitment to alleviate suffering during humanitarian crises and sustainable development.”
Habiba Al Marashi, President of the Arabia CSR Network, President of UN Global Compact GCC States and the CSO Representative, GRI Stakeholder Council, explained that CSR had risen in importance in the Arab world over the past ten years and that it has enormous potential benefits for serious CSR practitioners. She also discussed how philanthropy was the most common manifestation.
In her presentation, Clare Woodcraft the CEO of the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development explained that social responsibility programs should be undertaken with the aims of achieving tangible socio-economic results and that companies should adopt a long-term approach in order to have a sustainable impact.
A number of NGOs were also invited to speak at the summit - many of whom Etisalat partners with successfully around the world. They took the opportunity to discuss the crucial role that the private sector plays in helping them achieve their strategic goals. Presentations were heard from Care International, Habitat for Humanity, EWS-WWF, Enviroserve and PACES.
Fairuz Taqi-Eddin, Regional Director for Development at CARE International said: "The opportunities for us to work in the field of social responsibility are countless, and require the cooperation of agencies, companies and government institutions and NGOs as well as volunteers. Our combined efforts will benefit communities and the environment in which we live."
Commenting on his involvement, Peter Farquharson, Campaign Director at Habitat for Humanity Middle East Inc, said: “I think it is really important to have the opportunity for NGOs and the corporate sector to interface, and particularly with companies such as Etisalat. It is very exciting to be part of a formative process for Etisalat and it also provides a learning environment for us in terms of how companies develop their CSR platform.”
Etisalat recently received ISO14001:2004 – the environmental management system certification – in recognition of its efforts in reducing the carbon footprint at its Abu Dhabi head offices. The certification was awarded to Etisalat for its environmental management policy in cellular telecommunications, fixed and broadband services, which has enabled a balance between economic, social and environmental needs. It also reflects the corporation’s efforts in establishing strategic partnerships with government agencies, businesses and environment groups in support of policies that promote environmental protection.