Saudi Arabia in second place for adopting and integrating CSR practices in MENA region

Time: 22 March 2021

A picture taken on December 16, 2020 shows newly constructed towers in Ryadh, the Saudi Arabian capital and main financial hub. (AFP)

The survey found that there is a reasonable level of CSR awareness as well as a moderately positive attitude towards the concept in Saudi Arabia, with results finding 41 percent of respondents familiar with CSR

JEDDAH: A new study has shown that Saudi Arabia has emerged as a leading country in adopting and integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.
Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, a major regional communications agency in partnership with YouGov, an international research and data analytics group, published the first regional CSR survey report, ranking the Kingdom second in adoption and integration of CSR in businesses. Egypt topped the list.
Some 219 C-suite executives and corporate leaders from across the region were picked due to their contribution to their respective sectors, including government, aviation, automotive, banking and finance, construction and real estate, healthcare, and transport. The respondents were asked a series of CSR-related questions that were revisited in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
With CSR increasing in the corporate world — making a significant impact in the Kingdom’s business landscape — the survey found that CSR is a necessity, not a mere luxury. Policymakers with an understanding of how firms adopt CSR issues are improving policy formulation as it is being considered a key component in the culture of corporate governance and the regulatory frameworks and guidelines.
The survey found that there is a reasonable level of CSR awareness as well as a moderately positive attitude towards the concept in Saudi Arabia, with results finding 41 percent of respondents familiar with CSR. Of the executives surveyed, 90 percent possessed an intrinsic understanding of the scope of CSR and 58 percent deemed it integral for their business.

HIGHLIGHT
With CSR increasing in the corporate world — making a significant impact in the Kingdom’s business landscape — the survey found that CSR is a necessity, not a mere luxury.

“The UAE and the Kingdom emerged as leaders in CSR implementation and incorporation, and while familiarity with CSR regionally has always been of note, the report consolidated how the value of giving is ingrained in the region on a cultural level and not an attribute that needed to be adopted,” said Ahmad Itani, founder and CEO of C&B and chairman of PRCA MENA.
Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov, said: “This report represents a milestone that underpins the emphasis on CSR across regional sectors and industries. We are delighted and proud to unveil the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leading regional position in the integration of CSR. The demonstration of responsible business practices towards employees, stakeholders and customers was apparent throughout the findings, and we look forward to the continued growth of CSR across the MENA region to influence and inspire its global counterparts.”
For job seekers, an organization being socially responsible matters. It was marked as an important criterion — Saudi Arabia showed the highest average of executives (70 percent) who agree or strongly agree that CSR activities are important when considering opting for a job or rejecting it. Overall, 92 percent of executives in the Kingdom are upbeat about the impact of CSR.

This article was first published in Arab News

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New law to cut red tape in the business world

Time: 15 July, 2020

A proposed new Saudi corporate law, a draft of which has gone out for public consultation, marks a paradigm shift to a new and innovative path that will encourage the rapid growth of the corporate sector and enable it to keep pace with the latest developments.

One of the aims of the new law is to cut out many of the bureaucratic procedures that currently dampen the enthusiasm of people who want to establish companies, and red tape that has no place in the modern business world — for example, eliminating restrictions on company names, allowing the use of innovative titles derived from the purpose of the company.

Among the most prominent and significant features of the proposed law is the introduction of a new kind of company — the simple joint-stock company, established by one or more founders without a minimum requirement for capital. The new law is also flexible about different scenarios for managing the company — by a general manager or one of the board of directors. The company’s management mechanism and the majority required to implement decisions are subject to the founding agreement, as are the types of shares and debt instruments that may be issued.

The new law also offers amended solutions that can help companies to overcome any financial difficulties they may face, especially during this particularly challenging time. For example, if a financial loss represents half the capital value of a limited liability company, it need not immediately cease trading, as is currently the case; although of course, concerned parties may still petition the competent judicial authority to dissolve the company.

A committee will be established at the Ministry of Trade, comprising a minimum of three members at least one of whom is a specialist in the law and related regulations, to consider possible offenses and related penalties.

The new law includes and replaces some provisions of previous law related to companies, which it supersedes. Any provisions in previous laws that contradict the new law will be canceled when the new law is approved. Consolidating the laws that govern such a vital sector as business and commerce will assist the public perception of companies, address the needs of businesses and their owners, and develop and improve the entire sector.

The completion and implementation of this new law in coordination with all the relevant parties is a challenge; successfully completed, it will make procedures and regulatory requirements easier, stimulate the attraction of capital investment, and help to revitalize the economy.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

This article was first published in Arab News

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