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Companies that care

A variety of CSR initiatives have been implemented by fm companies

For a better future: The Transguard Group is a supporter of the Christel House School for underprivileged children in Bangalore, India.
For a better future: The Transguard Group is a supporter of the Christel House School for underprivileged children in Bangalore, India.

With a survey by Middle East jobs site Bayt.com last year revealing that 90% of professionals working in the region felt that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was “a moral responsibility that companies have towards the local community,” it is no longer prudent for organizations operating in the region to ignore CSR from their business models any more.

Given that this principle holds true for FM companies as well, it’s reassuring to see that many in the sector have already made it a priority to include CSR initiatives as part of their overall business goals.

While CSR is essentially about how a company contributes to the society it operates in, what it does in this field has now become a sort of branding for its business as well.

“In today’s economy, a company’s reputation often matters more than what you produce or sell,” says Amir Chaudry, managing director, Q Facilities Management.

“CSR speaks to who the company is, what it believes in, and how it is doing business. Companies that are able to get recognition for thinking outside of the box of their business are on the right path to building a sustainable business for the future.”

Assem Chabti, general manager – group HR, EFS Facilities Services, agrees with Chaudry’s statement, putting forward his own company as an example for the same. “CSR is well embedded in our company core values, and in our business offering itself,” he says. “Community development and support is an extended value preposition that we ensure across all our projects.”

While sustainability is the cornerstone for all kinds of CSR efforts, companies now have the option to choose from a wide variety of initiatives in this regard. The Transguard Group, for instance, has divided its CSR initiatives under three broad headings: People, Community and Environment. While the last two categories focus on larger social goals, the ‘People’ initiatives are targeted at the Group’s employees.

“‘People’ refers to initiatives that are essentially for the benefit of our employees, of which we have more than 20,000,” explains Mark Povey, marketing director, Transguard Group.

“We have a welfare committee drawn from across the Group that develops an annual People Project, which includes a schedule of planned initiatives, with an additional budget for ad hoc projects.”

A look at the Transguard Group’s initiatives under the ‘People’ umbrella reveals an interesting mix of activities and projects. These include setting up of Wi-Fi service and libraries across all ten of its staff accommodation facilities, sponsoring three of their managers on an MBA course annually, and hosting staff carnivals, sports events and more.

“Staff welfare is of paramount importance to us, and is embodied in our welfare and staff accommodation policies,” Povey says. “These have been developed to ensure each of our employees is provided with a safe, comfortable living space that promotes a good quality of life and that meets, and wherever possible, exceeds all statutory and regulatory requirements as well.”

This emphasis on staff welfare is heartening to see in a region that has come under the scanner much too often for its poor treatment of blue-collar workers. Chaudry says that at Q Facilities Management, taking care of the company’s human resources is very much a part of their overall CSR program. “We believe in investing in our human resources,” he declares.

“Our employees are considered not just as employees, but as part of the family,” Chaudry says. “We have built and nurtured a relationship with each and every employee of ours. We are high on equality of employees, irrespective of race, religion, culture and role. We believe in open communication, and we have an open door policy, which is practiced by employees across the organization.”

With respect to workers’ welfare, EFS has made it a priority to not just adhere to international regulations, but also develop local standards for the same. Chabti says that EFS has worked closely with government labour authorities in one of the large GCC countries to recommend “a minimum charter on worker living conditions,” which follows International Labour Organization guidelines.

In terms of CSR efforts that are broader in their scope, the Transguard Group’s work with Christel House, a school for underprivileged children in Bangalore, India, is particularly noteworthy. The company has been working with the school for over five years, where it sponsors a class of 40 students and also takes in six graduating students for its management apprenticeship scheme.

These graduates are brought to Dubai every year for a two-year management apprenticeship where they are immersed in all areas of the Transguard Group’s business. “At the end of the two years, we look to find the apprentices permanent placements in the company,” Povey says.
“We currently have six of these graduates in full-time employment, and 14 in apprenticeship.”
EFS also has in place a child education program that is spread across four countries in the subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

While this program has been an outstanding success, EFS also supports a UAE-based NGO called the Bait Al Khair Society, by providing free maintenance of old age homes across the country.

By implementing such kinds of CSR initiatives, FM companies are able to prove that they are more than just profit-churning machines, and that they are looking to be active, contributing members of the society that they work in.

As Chaudry put it: “We are committed to ensuring that the impact we have on and within our community is a positive one. We are dedicated to giving something back to the area that has contributed hugely to our success.”

CSR in the Spotlight
How the Doha-based RasGas is helping the Sung Eun School for the Disabled in Seoul, South Korea

RasGas Company Limited’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme has gone overseas, opening a new chapter in the company’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of people around the world.

As part of its 2013 CSR Year of Education campaign and the “School Fund” initiative, RasGas Korea Liaison Office recently provided a long-term tangible contribution to Sung Eun School for the Disabled in Seoul, South Korea.

The school, situated on the outskirts of South Korea’s capital Seoul, takes care of 200 students affected by physical and mental disabilities.

The funds were used for remodelling and upgrading the sports facilities of the school, including the refurbishment of outdoor playgrounds and setting up a movie theatre in the classroom. In addition, RasGas also purchased a new school van and winter clothes for the students.

Ali Zayed Al Marri, public affairs manager at RasGas headquarters in Doha, said, “At RasGas, we are committed to supporting the communities where we live and work, in Qatar and around the world.

We feel it is our responsibility to connect with students and their teachers, who have the most important role of guiding them in the path to becoming adults, offering the best possible gift: education”.

“It gives us great pleasure seeing the happy faces of these children; this is the best reward for us,” Al Marri added.

An Jung il, principal of Sung Eun School for the Disabled said that RasGas’ support has brought the school tangible benefits to our school for years to come.

“Our students deserve the best,” Jung il said. “With the renewed sports facilities and the new movie theatre, we will be able to enhance sports inclusion into their educational curriculum. We are very grateful for the friendship we share with RasGas”.

RasGas’ contribution not only brings tangible benefits to children in need, but is also
indicative of the company’s commitment to assist communities around the world.

RasGas dedicated 2013 as its Year of Education, launching initiatives to promote reading and literacy among young children, providing equipment to local schools, supporting educational initiatives and campaigns in collaboration with universities and associations.

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