UN Global Compact
Lebanese Corporations Increasingly Committing to CSR
Seven new banks and companies in Lebanon have recently joined the UN Global Compact as an indicator of increased commitment to CSR and good business practice in the country, bringing the number of Lebanese participants at the global platform to 23 members. Fransabank was the first bank to join the UNGC in November 2013. The Bank’s Chairman, Mr. Adnan Kassar played a strategic role in the founding of the UN Global Compact when he was president of the International Chamber of Commerce in 1999 and 2000 with then Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan.
The other new members are: Alfa mobile company, LibanPost, BLC Bank, Switch Group, Ijazi Investment Company, and Al Houda ERMS,The Global Compact offers a policy framework for organizing and developing corporate sustainability strategies while offering a platform - based on universal principles - to encourage innovative initiatives and partnerships with civil society, governments and other stakeholders. “Fransabank’s attachment to the UN Global Compact Principles, and the adoption of its long term Corporate Responsibility strategies is due to our belief that by giving back to our society and our community, we give back to our shareholders, our clients, our employees and our society at large. In addition, the UN Global Compact and its ten principles, not only support Fransabank responsible business strategy, but also complement Fransabank core values that guide everyday conduct,” said Fransabank in a statement.
As a voluntary initiative, the UN Global Compact seeks wide participation from a diverse group of businesses. As a participant in the Global Compact, a company: sets in motion changes to business operations so that the Global Compact and its principles become part of strategy, culture and day-to-day operations; is expected to publicly advocate the Global Compact and its principles; and is required to communicate with their stakeholders on an annual basis about progress in implementing the ten principles through submitting an annual Communication on Progress (COP) report. The COP is an important demonstration of a participant’s commitment to the Global Compact and its principles. Failure to provide a COP will result in a non-communicating or inactive status for a participant – a necessary measure to protect the integrity of the initiative.
“Joining the UN Global Compact, which is considered as the world’s largest and most acknowledged platform, is important for sustaining our leading position in terms of CSR. We seek to optimize our performance and positioning by further embedding the 10 principles within our everyday business practices,” said Alfa.
For BLC, “by joining the UN Global Compact, the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world, the bank is making a new step towards a better governance and more sustainable business model.”
Abiding by and adopting an established and globally recognized policy framework for the development of environmental, social, and governance policies and practices were behind LibanPost’s decision to join the UN Global Compact. “Another motive is increasing brand value and gaining access to a common knowledge platform at a time where the social aspect is playing a more important role in the company’s responsibilities,” the company stated.
At 4 years old and boasting 60 employees, Switch Group management has undertaken a new venture, in line with its team’s growing commitment to continuously improve, which is to enhance its CSR standing in the communities which feed its growth. “The basis behind this push comes from the Management’s belief that strong CSR contributions are more easily rooted in the mindset of the team while the company is still in its cozy, young and growing phase, where staff awareness and incentivization can be more easily implemented and tracked as compared to a full-fledged enterprise,” the company said.
Why Should Companies Participate
The UN Global Compact seeks to combine the best properties of the UN, such as moral authority and convening power, with the private sector’s solution-finding strengths and resources, and the expertise and capacities of other key stakeholders. The initiative is global and local; private and public; voluntary, yet accountable. “Indeed, it is a mean to serve as a frame of reference to stimulate best practices and to bring about convergence around universally shared values. Managing the Bank’s risks and opportunities related to these principles will allow us to achieve a long-term “value creation” that can simultaneously benefit Fransabank and all its local and international entities as well as the communities at large,” Fransabank commented.
Participation in the UNGC offers a wide array of practical benefits:
• Adopting an established and globally recognized policy framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of environmental, social, and governance policies and practices.
• Sharing best and emerging practices to advance practical solutions and strategies to common challenges.
• Advancing sustainability solutions in partnership with stakeholders.
• Linking business units and subsidiaries across the value chain with the UN Global Compact’s Local Networks around the world.
• Accessing the United Nations knowledge of and experience with sustainability and development issues.
• Utilizing UN Global Compact management tools and resources.
Alfa’s engagement in the UN Global Compact is a proof of commitment to evolve and tackle this strategic aspect and a drive for creating positive change in society and shifting up the social responsibility trends into a new & advanced perspective. “We believe that joint discussions and relations between companies on a global scale, will benefit all companies aiming at gaining experience and expertise in CSR,” the company said.
BLC bank is accepting the 10 principles and is committed to applying them in its strategy and daily operations. “The UNGC will give us access to best practices, help us strengthen our CSR strategy and give more credibility to our actions.”
As for LibanPost, the company believes that the UN Global Compact will enable it to share its practices and thinking points with a range of stakeholders to come up with practical solutions and strategies and learn from best practices that will enforce its social activity. “Acknowledging the importance of the UNGC’s ten principles will earn us our society’s respect,” the company affirmed.
Aiming to become a prominent contributor to the societies it operates in, Switch Group’s UNGC participation “is expected to be a guide in raising staff and Management awareness in the short term. In addition, the UNGC expertise will aid the company in the measurement of CSR outcomes.”
Participation in the Global Compact is open to any company that is serious about its commitment to work towards implementation of the Global Compact principles throughout its operations and sphere of influence, and to communicate on its progress. Companies from any industry sector are eligible for participation, except those companies involved in the manufacture, sale etc. of anti-personnel landmines or cluster bombs, companies that are the subject of a UN sanction or that have been blacklisted for ethical reasons. Non-business participants are also encouraged to commit their organization to the ten principles and to report on progress made within their organization.
Source: Responsible Business Magazine