Private sector and corporate social responsibility

Haider al lawati –
haiderdawood@hotmail.com –

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) needs to be highlighted in the media with more relevance to corporate and civil institutions rather than the government. The latter is concerned with laying the CSR foundation and systems that can include all productive sectors, especially those of interest to youth, children, the elderly, the disabled, entrepreneurs and other groups.
Today this concept is ‘mixed up’ with the support provided by some institutions and companies for associations, and commercial, cultural and social activities despite the recent trend witnessed in the private sector to adopt many sustainable projects to serve the community.
The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) held a discussion recently on CSR and the role of institutions and companies. The aim was to back the Omani society’s efforts to support community development and consolidate the principle of economic partnership with society as well as develop a common vision of social responsibility in the Omani private sector.
OCCI has been lauded for its initiative, which is at the core of its responsibilities towards Omani society in light of the increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who need continued support to stand on their feet.
In the last panel discussion, the current status was discussed along with the private sector’s role in CSR issues, which requires private institutions to develop their own strategy that connects them to CSR goals.
The Omani private sector is witnessing a gradual growth with Omani youth joining in vital economic projects. This requires supporting the youth who have started managing projects through CSR.
This is besides educating them on marketing/promotional foundations, increasing the demand for their products and supporting them to take part in external forums and exhibitions to earn more knowledge and experience and open the door for communication with others.
This will improve the ‘stereotypical image’ of Oman’s private sector as a sector largely driven by hidden trade. Furthermore, OCCI’s recent panel discussed a host of important visions and ideas to enhance the role of companies and institutions in terms of CSR by emphasising the need to adopt joint CSR initiatives and combining efforts and directing a part of them to support SMEs.
An important recommendation that emerged from the meeting is the need to develop a uniform definition of the concept of CSR in the Sultanate, so the private sector operates in the context of this definition in a manner that helps in identifying the correct trends and to serve the Omani society.
This is in addition to the need for accurate CSR database in the private sector and strategising with a vision for drawing up plans and programmes that serve common social/development goals.
OCCI has been paying undivided attention to the concept of CSR since the launch of its first award in the field in 2014. It has since continued with the same approach to expand the circle of institutions and local and international companies affiliated to it to showcase their role and contribution to sustainable projects evaluated to support members of the community. This will inevitably lead to improvement of image of these companies across the Omani community.
These programmes could include responsibility for the construction and support of projects that individuals need in the Omani society, whether in health, youth, social, sports, academic and religious affairs, along with supporting the training and qualification programmes and contributing to SME activities and polishing the skills of those working in SMES.
Such contributions will yield positive returns through the productivity of individuals and society. At the same time, it will accelerate creation of successful Omani businesses, drive development, build a sustainable economy and involve community members and establish their partnership in the development of all that is new to achieve mutual interests.