How CSR is shaping MENA’s business landscape in 2024 – Campaign Middle East

June 10, 2024 | by

Gone are the days of simply ticking CSR boxes. The MENA region is undergoing a transformative shift, with countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt emerging as frontrunners in integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles into their business models.

This isn’t just a fad; it’s a strategic move with far-reaching implications.

The 2023 MENA CSR report, produced by Cicero & Bernay (C&B), a leading communication partner headquartered in Dubai, in collaboration with CARMA International, paints a promising picture, with the study having surveyed over 340 C-level executives across various industries and countries in the region.

Embracing responsible growth

The report highlights a growing appreciation of CSR across the MENA landscape. Egypt, for example, witnessed a significant jump, with CSR awareness soaring from 84% to 94% in just a year.

This shift reflects a deeper understanding of the value proposition of CSR. As Ahmad Itani, founder and CEO of C&B, explains, “This goes to show that CSR, as a foundational pillar of business operations, is a commitment to future generations.”

The benefits of CSR integration cannot be understated, as the report has identified that companies that embrace these efforts report a surge in customer trust, improved employee engagement, and a competitive edge, which means a win-win-win for businesses and society at large.

The power of planning and action

The good news? The momentum is building. Over 84 per cent of respondents now consider CSR metrics as an integral part of strategic planning, ensuring long-term sustainability.

This translates to action, with 71 per cent of firms already running active CSR programs, and another 24% gearing up to launch initiatives.

What’s next?

The report also unveils exciting trends shaping the future of CSR in the region:

  • Employee welfare is now a central focus, with robust data indicating that addressing a broad spectrum of such needs—both tangible and intangible—enhances productivity. This improvement directly contributes to operational efficiency and boosts company profitability. The report underscores that an increasing number of companies recognise this correlation and are prioritising initiatives that foster team health and satisfaction.
  • Businesses are looking beyond short-term gains, considering environmental and social impact alongside economic factors, a result of increased regional audience affinity to sustainability-driven brands as a marking differentiator.
  • While volunteering and charitable donations remain key components of CSR, there is a growing emphasis on creating direct impacts through proactive corporate actions. Companies are integrating their social responsibility efforts more closely with their brand identities, enhancing their overall impact and strengthening the connection with their consumers.

Emerging global benchmark 

As the global community addresses sustainability challenges, the MENA region is carving out its unique path.

With CSR firmly established, both large corporations and small enterprises are showing they are looking to adopt broader and more robust methodologies, notably the globally recognised ESG framework.

According to the findings, ESG will increasingly drive societal well-being in the future. Therefore, Cicero & Bernay has announced the next edition of the annual report will shift its focus to ESG.

This is meant to enhance awareness, engagement, and emphasis for this evolving framework, building on the success achieved with CSR over the previous four editions.

The 2023 report by C&B and CARMA International highlights this significant transition, showcasing the region’s commitment to a sustainable future.

Download the full report to dive deeper into the region’s groundbreaking CSR initiatives.


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