The corporate social responsibility of Majid AL Futtaim

The corporate social responsibility of Majid AL Futtaim

The corporate social
responsibility of Majid AL Futtaim

Introduction

The corporate social responsibility of Majid AL Futtaim

Majid AL Futtaim was
founded in 1992 establishing itself as a leading shopping mall, leisure and
retail pioneer operating across the Middle East and North Africa commonly known
as the (MENA).  Majid AL Futtaim company
is one of the remarkable success stories of business that start from a humble
background to becoming business pioneers in the region they operate. The
company started as a vision of one man who wanted to transform the
entertainment, shopping and leisure to ensure that everybody achieved great
moments each time they wanted them. Since the incorporation of the company, it
has grown to become one of the most respected organizations in the UAE (World
Green Governing Council, 2016). The company has successive businesses which
span across 13 international markets that employ more than 27,000 people and in
the process being able to achieve highest credit rating among Middle East’s
privately owned organizations.  The
company operates and owns 18 shopping malls, 11 hotels together with other
developments in the MEN region. The shopping malls portfolio includes city
center malls, mall of emirates in addition to other four community malls that
are operated in a joint venture with the Sharjah Government. In addition to
this, the company holds exclusive rights to Carrefour franchise spread across
38 markets in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. This increased the
company business to operating 65 hypermarkets as well as 85 supermarkets
located in 12 countries spread across the mentioned regions (World Green
Governing Council, 2016).

The company has also
ventured into the entertainment business where it operates 175 VOX Cinema
screens in addition to 19 Magic Planet family entertainment centers that are
located in the regions. Apart from this, the company operates the iconic
entertainment and leisure facilities that include iFly Dubai and Ski Dubai
(World Green Governing Council, 2016). The company has therefore been able to
develop over the last twenty years some of the most popular and large
entertainment and shopping centers in North Africa and the Middle East. The
shopping mall business represents the core of the business growth strategy of
the company. The natures of these malls have seen them have an impact on the
environment where they are situated. To minimize any undesirable impacts that
may be associated with malls, the company has adopted Corporate Social
Responsibility approaches demonstrating the company’s leadership in the sector
of operating shopping malls in all the regions where they have set base (Majid
AL Futtaim Properties, 2013).

The company’s CSR
approach has been entrenched in the company’s culture in such a way that it is
not the responsibility of the CEO, the board of management or the senior
management alone. The company has taken it a responsibility to ensure that all
its CSR principles are adopted by the entire organization including all
employees. These principles of CRS should be adopted at all levels of the
business and they must be practiced on a daily basis. The management team of
the company and the board has developed a CSR policy that acts as a framework
that the company operates from. The purpose of the CSR policy is to ensure that
the organization puts a balance between their business goals and the principles
of the CSR. In addition to this, the policy provides a way of measuring the
company progress against the stated CSR objectives. Initially, the company
consulted with all stakeholders of the organization to detail areas where they
would venture into for corporate social responsibility. After identification of
these areas, the company later made objectives that they identified as simple
to work with and achieve in accordance with the CSR policy in place. The
company’s CSR policy focuses on more than four areas as will be highlighted in
this report (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2014).

The outstanding work that
the company has continued to do in sustainability activities in the Middle East
and North Africa has made it be recognized by several awards.  It has continued to receive numerous
recognition from all the over the world based on the innovativeness in corporate
social responsibility activities. The company main stakeholder in the corporate
social responsibility activities include the employees, the respective
governments, their customers, tenants, regional peers, communities and NGO’s
and the suppliers. The company constantly engages these stakeholders as a whole
or sometimes individually with an aim of ensuring they get the best from their
partnership (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2011).The company beliefs that
through collaborating and engaging with the different stakeholders will help
them serve better and meet their CSR objectives. The company holds that the
reason why CSR is a critical component of the organization is that the
development of the company was through a commitment to social and economic development
across the North Africa and Middle East regions. Furthermore, the organizations
hold that it operates in a region which is faced with numerous social and
economic problems and it is therefore upon a responsible company to ensure that
the future growth is socially efficient, economically effective and fair and is
environment sustainable. Finally, the company maintains that their persistent
effort in CSR activities across the MENA region has been because these
activities contribute to the long-term success of the organization (Majid AL
Futtaim Properties, 2012).

Having stated this, this
research paper will detail the different aspects of the corporate social
responsibility of Majid Al Futtaim. In doing so, this paper will be organized
in sub-topics that will aim to offer more information on the CSR activities of
the organization. The paper will detail the purpose of this research and the
reason for interests in this CSR topic. In addition to this, this research
paper will detail the vision and mission of Majid Al Futtaim policy in CSR.
Further to this, the sustainability strategy of the company will be detailed as
well as the focus of the company’s CSR policy. The research paper will also
provide examples of the company’s excellence in CSR works and community service
programs. Finally, the goals and benefits of the company’s CSR activities will
be detailed. 

Purpose of this research:The corporate social responsibility

This research aims to
serve a number of purposes one of them detailing the CSR activities that Majid
Al Futtaim is engaged in the MENA region. Majid Al-Futtaim is one of the
companies that have been extensively engaging in different social
responsibility activities that have benefited thousands of people cutting
across people of different races. This research wants to depict that any
organization has the responsibility of contributing to the society through
supporting activities that add values to their lives. The purpose of this
research is to set an example for other companies to do their part in areas
where they are located by supporting financially corporate social
responsibility activities and stand a chance of establishing a long lasting
relationship with their stakeholders. This research also serves to depict that
when governments and companies collaborate, they can be able to do worthy
activities that contribute to raising the economic and social status of the
citizens. In addition to this, this research purpose is also to contribute to
the literature on corporate social responsibility in a positive way. Despite
social responsibility by organizations being criticized, their contribution to
the society is very important in changing how communities and societies operate
economically or socially. This research aims at depicting a success story of
CSR with an effort of urging other companies to invest in these activities for
benefiting the society. Finally, this research serves to highlight some of the
challenges that face Majid Al Futtaim in its efforts to operate various CSR
activities across the MENA region as well as making some recommendations to the
company on how to improve how the company conducts its CSR activities in the
region. The recommendations will also highlight what other organizations can do
to enhance their CSR activities.      

The reason for interest in
this topic

One of the major reasons as
to why I was interested in this topic of corporate social responsibility is
because of the importance these activities are to the society. By undertaking
this research, I will be better positioned to understand more on how a company
runs the CSR programs parallel with the core business of the organization.
Using this research I will be better positioned to know how organizations
balance between achieving the core goals of the business while at the same time
realizing the CSR objectives each financial year. CSR is a topic that is of
interest to me because I believe that all organizations should be involved in
at least on CSR program in an area where they operate for purposes of
benefiting the society or community that neighbors the firm. By undertaking
this research is therefore part of the need to gather more knowledge on this
area of interest while at the same time incorporate the knowledge I have on
this area into test in terms of detailing a comprehensive research report of
one of the companies that have excelled in incorporating CSR activities as part
of their organizational culture.       

Vision

The vision of Majid Al
Futtaim involvement in corporate social responsibility is to be an active
player in the development of the MENA society by creating a difference in the
lives of the communities and societies that neighbor and surround the
organization via various charitable programs and activities. In addition to
this, the vision of the Majid Al Futtaim Company is creating great moments for
every person every day. This vision has enabled the company to bring together
all sub-brands and divisions of the company under one umbrella creating the
energy of serving the firm customers while at the same time help in creating
some of the most inspiring and transformative experiences in the world.  To ensure that the vision of the company is
realized, the firm has formulated values that are appealing to complement their
vision. These aims are being bold, being passionate and being together. By
being, bold the company aspires to promote a creative environment in which
courage is developed to challenging the convention and getting everything done
in the perfect way. On the other hand, the value of being passionate means that
people in the organization pursue excellence while having a deep sense of pride
in what the organization is engaged in, the mode of operation and the need for
doing these operations. Finally, the being together value contributes to the
achievement of the vision through promoting an ethos that is supportive while
at the same time having an openness that advocates for diversity, ensures there
is efficient communication and makes the collaboration efforts of the
organization constructive. In brief, by the organization having its vision
intertwined to the values, it has contributed to the steering of the business
in the right direction (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2013).

Mission

The mission of Majid Al
Futtaim is to enhance people’s lives via provision of sustainable hospitality
and real estate portfolio. The company mission is to lead by example through
provision and application of the best international practices the leave customers/
stakeholders demanding for more. The mission is to have a transformational
agenda for the economic and social progress of the regions where the company
has set operations. In practical terms, the mission of the organization is to
providing, developing and managing better buildings that are cautious of the environment,
as possible ensuring that the working conditions of the employees has been
enhanced while the atmosphere for the visitors is appealing. Majid Al Futtaim
also aims at having an environment friendly atmosphere that will support and
allow delivery of economic and social benefits to the surrounding communities,
supply chain and customers. The company believes that by embedding
sustainability into their business operations, they will be able to increase
the value of the brands, increase the long-term profitability, provide new
avenues of creating new business opportunities and ensure that the skilled,
talented and experienced workforce is retained year in year out (Majid AL
Futtaim Properties, 2013).

The sustainability strategy
of the company

The corporate social
responsibility strategy of Majid Al Futtaim was formulated in the year 2010
being incorporated as part of the organizations formal operations. Prior to
this, staff who were passionate made a difference in many areas through various
informal initiatives. Out of these informal initiatives, the company built on
some of them formalizing CSR and making it become part of the company’s DNA.
The company in the past lacked an individual to spearhead the informal
initiatives that some members of staff were engaged in but later the company
hired an experienced and qualified person to head the CSR initiatives. The head
of CSR is responsible for having fruitful engagements with the stakeholders of
the company on the various CSR programs that the company has committed to. The
individual is also responsible for embedding the strategy of the company
concerning CSR to all divisions of the business in an efficient and effective
way. The company has a well-defined governance structure where the champions of
CSR are rewarded and recognized for their input in the success of the various
programs. The company ensures that it collects data annually with an aim of
enabling the organization to understand the scale of the impact that the
environment and society get from the CSR programs (Majid AL Futtaim Properties,
2014).

The success of the CSR
strategy adopted by Majid Al Futtaim depends on the staff members who are
committed to ensuring that the programs launched are a success. Members of
staff are very important in ensuring that the sustainability efforts are not
laid into waste since they understand how important the CSR initiatives are to
the growth of the business and they relate well to the goals of the business
and objectives of the CSR programs. Through Majid Al Futtaim governance
structure, it is easy to distribute incentives and responsibility across all
regions that the company has a presence. 
The company has made it clear to all employees to incorporate the CSR
objectives into their daily decision making with an aim of ensuring that all
employees are fully involved in giving back to the society and contributing to
the growth of their region.  The Board of
the organization has been mandated to be the overall executive oversight in addition
to formulating the strategy that the company adopts in a specific period. The
company has the CSR steering committee that is second to the board and its
delegated authority from the executive board. Third to this is the CSR advisory
committee that is responsible for strategy and accountability in matters to do
with the initiatives. Third, there is the national CSR committee mandated with
the local building capacity. This committee is located in UAE, Egypt, Oman and
Lebanon. Finally, the governance structure has the CSR champions who are mandated
to deliver the initiatives to the societies and communities in the most prudent
and effective way (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2014).

In the year 2013, Majid
Al Futtaim opted to change the terminology CSR to sustainability with the aim
and intention of reflecting that the organization wanted to be benchmarked to
the international peers. The company in 2013 developed an ambitious
sustainability strategy as a result of a review process that involved assessing
the –progress made, the country risks posed in each region, a review of the
organization peers and did an examination of areas where there existed an
opportunity and would be explored through excellent leadership and innovation.
The company also embarked in getting opinions from their key stakeholders on
the best sustainability strategy to undertake. In relation to this, the firm
identified sustainability factors that can be said to be most relevant or in
other words, the ones that can be said to be most material to the operations of
the business. Out of the revised sustainability strategy, the company organized
their sustainability goals into having only three goals that include
High-Performance Assets, Pioneering Standards and Prosperous Communities (Majid
AL Futtaim Properties, 2015).The emphasis on these goals is that the company
strategy is on tackling the issues that matter to the communities in the
different regions. Since the adoption of the sustainability strategy, the
company has been treated by focusing on the operations strategies and values in
the most sustainable way. The governance structure of the company has ensured
that the sustainability strategy will be embedded in all the operations and
divisions of the business making Majid Al Futtaim a leader in sustainable
operations in the region (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2013).

Strategic focus area for
sustainability

As stated before, the
mission of the sustainability efforts by the company is to enhance the lives of
people through the provision of sustainable real estate. In doing so, the
company has adopted three strategic focus areas that include pioneering standards,
prosperous communities and high-performance assets. In the focus, the area of
pioneering standards the company is considered in addressing a number of issues
that include green building standards, sustainable procurement, health and
safety, and labor conditions in the supply chain. Majid Al Futtaim targets to
operate and build all assets according to the best practices of green building
standards in the Middle East and Northern Africa regions. It also aims at
having a transformation of the MENA real estate market via procurement
practices that are sustainable helping to acquire services and materials that
contribute to the conservation of the environment. In addition to this, the
company has vowed to achieve zero fatalities in the areas where they operate by
putting in place a certified safety and health management system for covering
all activities. The company also aims at achieving public recognition for the
transformation of labor conditions in the Middle East and Northern Africa
regions through the collaboration with the governments and through the
effective and efficient provision of best practices (Responsible Business,
2012).

The second sustainability
focus area that Majid Al Futtaim has an interest in is having communities in
the MENA region that are prosperous. Through this, the company hopes to take
care of the well-being of the communities that are in these regions as well as
engaging them in different activities. The organization aims at demonstrating
the socio-economic value that they offer to the societies in the MENA region.
The company also wants to demonstrate that it is the best employer in the
region in addition to creating inclusive and prosperous communities through
initiating new ways to engage the communities in the region. Finally, in this
focus area, the organization aims at creating exemplar public spaces both
around and within the assets that the company owns. The vision of the company
here is to develop the skills of the local communities and offering them
employment with an aim of creating communities that are independent and
prosperous. Majid Al Futtaim has over the years worked with communities in the
MENA region on certain projects that are charitable. The company also works
with communities in areas such as combating heart diseases as well as
empowering women. The company aims at earning the trust and respect of
communities through addressing issues that are very important to them. This
creates the needed goodwill in depicting a good image for the company
(Responsible Business, 2012).

Lastly, the company focuses
its sustainability efforts on high-performance assets. What this means is that
the company engages in water, waste, energy and carbon activities that enable
the creation of efficient communities, assets and infrastructure. The company
also strives in working with the operators and tenants in the delivery of
high-performance assets. Sustainability efforts in this focus area are also
geared towards customers and visitors by striving to understand the drivers of
sustainability of their customers and visitors. This helps the company use this
information in creating assets that will enhance the lives of people. The
vision of the company here is to deliver assets that are high performing
offering the tenants healthy, efficient and productive workplaces supporting
and enhancing economies and communities in the MENA region. The organization
works closely with their tenants with an aim of enhancing sustainability in the
leased spaces. Having that the company has over 175 million visitors in malls
and more than 1.2 million guests in hotels; the organization has an opportunity
for enhancing sustainability efforts in a positive way. Majid Al Futtaim has
continued to work with their tenants to cut the use of water and energy as well
as reducing the wastes from their operations. Through having a strategy of
enabling their tenants and customers through making choices that are
sustainable, the company boosts of being the MENA sustainability pioneer
enhancing the brand of the company and increasing its reputation (Majid AL
Futtaim Properties, 2014).              

Examples of the company’s
excellence in work and community service programs
 

The excellence of Majid Al
Futtaim in sustainability work and community service programs can be easily identifiable
across the MUNA region. The deep commitment that the company has shown over the
years has increased the rate of achievements in all sustainable projects that
the company has been involved in. Through having a committed employee
workforce, the company has been able to spearhead its sustainability agenda in
the MUNA region. The company achievements are numerous one of them being
holding annual sustainability conferences will all the stakeholders. The
company also has been able to publish annual sustainability reports on the
social and environment impacts year in year out. The company has also made more
than 2500 staff hour investments in the communities in the regions where the
company is situated via volunteering. 
One of the greatest achievement that the company got was being awarded
the ‘green star’ status from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark
that has made the company get a global recognition for the sustainability
efforts it has launched over the least four years. Interestingly, the company
has been awarded this ‘green statuses two years in a row depicting the
commitment of the company in increasing its efforts in corporate social
responsibility activities (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2015).

Other achievements include
being consistent by achieving 70% of the sustainability targets each year.
Majid Al Futtaim also was the first organization to build a five-star hotel in
the Middle East achieving a LEED silver rating. The company has also invested
more than AED 26.9 million in the communities in the MUNA region between the
years 2011 and 2014. The company also launched the labor standards policy
protecting workers who are in construction sites across the MUNA region.
Through the labor camp audit process, the company has driven a genuine
performance improvement of the working conditions of the workers who resides in
camps.  To ensure that there is enough
support for the sustainability performance in the malls, the company appointed
a Green Star Manager to oversee smooth operations. Majid Al Futtaim has also in
the past years embarked in delivering sustainability training to more than half
of their employees. To drive energy efficiency the company also integrated
smart technologies into the design of the buildings. The organization has also
been able to achieve green building accreditation for its assets. The company’s
excellence in their sustainability works can be attributed to the commitment by
the management and the employees in succeeding in all projects associated with
corporate social responsibility (Majid AL Futtaim Properties, 2015).

Majid Al Futtaim has a
charity foundation that has been involved in corporate social responsibility
focusing on three areas that include healthcare, training and education and
direct contributions. The charity foundation of the organization focuses on the
implementation of a number of awareness campaigns as well as healthcare
projects with an aim of raising the public awareness on the importance of
living a healthy nutritious live. In addition to this, the foundation of the
organization provides support to healthcare institutions for instance; it
modernizes some of these facilities equipping them with up-to-date technology
with an aim of enhancing the capabilities and abilities of these hospitals to
provide medical treatment that benefits the communities they serve. The focus
on training and education by the Majid Al Futtaim charity foundation is a
platform for empowering the UAE nationals with the right knowledge and skills
that will help them in living a productive life. The aim of the foundation is
to develop training programs that will, in turn, create opportunities people to
be employed. Finally, the Majid Al Futtaim charity foundation focuses on
supporting Ramadan activities, sponsoring some international and local
charitable events in addition to other community initiatives that are pressing
to the society. These direct contributions provide Majid Al Futtaim to play a
key role in community development in addition to collaborating with
organizations that will enable doing of activities that will have huge impacts
on the MENA development for the current and future generations Majid AL Futtaim
Charity Foundation, 2016).

The Majid Al Futtaim charity
foundation was founded by a virtue of Royal Decree that was issued by His
Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the year 2006. The foundation
supports the Ramadan activities since it started in 2010 through collaboration
with other charitable organizations in the provision of Ramada Meer and Iftar to
the needy people. In addition to this, the foundation provided for the
construction of 30 housing units that were to be given to the low-income
earners in Fujairah. In healthcare activities, the foundation has been involved
in numerous activities such as School Healthcare Awareness Campaign, Fujairah
Kidney Centre and Latifa Hospital NICU Extension.  For the School Healthcare Awareness Campaign,
the foundation has started healthcare awareness campaigns that are implemented
in schools with an aim of targeting the young generation. The campaign is to
encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles via providing ways of proper
awareness on exercise and nutrition. The foundation through these health
campaigns also raises the awareness and knowledge in some diseases/ illness
that can have a huge impact on their health such as diabetes, cholesterol,
smoking, diabetes, weight control, healthy nutrition and physical activity. One
of the activities that have been implemented is the SMART program whose focus
is to promote healthy lifestyles as well as awareness increment on
non-communicable diseases. The campaign also involves poster and drama
competitions, internship programs as well as inputting knowledge on cardio
vascular related diseases such as obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and
hypertensions (Majid AL Futtaim Charity Foundation, 2016).

In addition to this, Majid
Al Futtaim charity foundation has sponsored the expansion of the Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit in Latifa Hospital (Dubai) in addition to conducting
various studies assessing the current situation of some of the hospitals in UAE
to detect areas that require development based on societal needs. The company
also has numerous city center clinics that are located in the malls that they
operate. This healthcare facility is mandated to provide excellent healthcare
and medical services delivering them in an environment of integrity, trust and
expertise. The aim is delivering services and products that are efficient,
consistent, replicable and reliable and most importantly patient-centered Majid
AL Futtaim Charity Foundation, 2016).

The goals and benefits
behind the company’s CSR activities

The involvement of Majid
Al Futtaim in sustainability and corporate social programs serves to achieve a
number of benefits and goals. The major goal of involvement in these CSR
activities is to create a long-lasting goodwill and cement the brand name of
the company to the people. The goal is to ensure that the organization is able
to identify itself to the people through programs that bring a difference in
their economic and social lives. The benefits of getting involved in CSR
activities are numerous. One of the benefits that Majid Al Futtaim is set to
get is affecting positively to the communities that live in the MENA region.
The company is able to act in an ethical way in such a manner that they become
conscious of the environmental and social impacts from their operations. The
company is, therefore, able to mitigate any negative impacts from their
operations.  Another benefit that Majid
Al Futtaim gets from being involved in sustainability and corporate social
responsibility programs is the support it offers to the public value outcomes.
The organization has been able to help in delivering public value outcomes through
focusing on services that make a difference in the society. Either this can be
directly or indirectly where the organization has direct contributions or funds
/ sponsors events where the community members can volunteer to make the
environment they reside better (Galbreath, 2010).

 Majid Al Futtaim can also benefit in terms of
supporting the imitative of being the employer of choice in the region where it
operates. For instance, because of the high involvement in community service
programs and sustainability activities, Majid Al Futtaim has become the
employer of choice in the MENA region. The company has been able to attract the
best and most skilled employees from the region and globally. Another benefit
that Majid Al Futtaim accrues from being involved in CSR and sustainability
activities is the encouragement of both personal and professional development.
Majid Al Futtaim employees have over the years benefited from being trained on
different aspects of sustainability and CSR. Employees who are passionate in
doing certain activities are offered that chance. This is a way of improving
the motivation of employees as they get to be involved in programs and
activities that they hold dear. Besides these benefits, the involvement in CSR
programs and sustainability activities enhances the client relationships. For a
company to enhance and build trust between them and the customers, it is
important to have a framework of corporate social responsibility that is
appealing (Galbreath, 2010).

Majid Al Futtaim high
involvement in sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs in
the MENA region has benefited by not only building customer loyalty but also
brand differentiation. It has used these programs and activities as to create a
competitive advantage over any other competitors in the region. The use of CRS
by organizations is a tool that has been used to gain public support as well as
acting as a form of advertising. Another benefit that is derived from being
involved in sustainability and CSR activities is having a close relationship
with the government regulators and politicians. It is, therefore, a form of
decreasing scrutiny from government regulators. In addition to this, another
benefit that the organization benefits from is the fact that it shows a true
commitment to a certain cause. For instance, when Majid Al Futtaim gets
involved in healthcare campaigns and activities it is a sign that it is
committed to ensuring that MENA region benefits socially and economically.
Another way that the organization stands to benefit is having strong supplier
relations in such a way that it is able to attract the best supplier firms to
offer their quality services to the company. When suppliers are associated with
worthwhile CSR programs they get to know that a positive image is being
portrayed and, therefore, reducing any risks of bad publicity. It is,
therefore, a two-way gain for the suppliers and the organization carrying out
the CSR programs. By an organization of Majid Al Futtaim caliber being involved
in sustainability and CSR programs in a consistent manner, it has allowed
itself to stand out in the MENA region attracting not only local customers but
also international customers. The high involvement in sustainability and CSR
programs has enabled the global image of Majid Al Futtaim to be enhanced. This
has been evident through the many awards that the organization has been awarded
because of the major investments they have made in CSR programs in the region
where they operate their business. From this, they have built appositive
workplace environment for their employees and customers. It has built a sense
of teamwork bringing everyone onboard leading to employees who are happier and
productive (Hopkins et al. 2009).

Another benefit that
Majid Al Futtaim is able to get out of the CSR activities it practices is the
access to capital from the most reputable banking institutions. It is very easy
for the organization to access any amount of capital because of the goodwill
and good image they have created through involvement in sustainability
activities and CSR programs in the MENA region. Lending institutions would like
to be highly associated with Majid Al Futtaim since the people in the MENA
region have identified the company with good values. Any lending institution
that gets to be associated with the company is assured of much more business
from the people in communities where the company has launched numerous CSR and
sustainability programs. Another benefit that the company gets is having a
diverse workforce that is highly equipped with skills, expertise and knowledge
to further the agenda of the organization. Companies that are involved in CSR
programs are better positioned of having a diverse workforce that works
efficiently in meeting the targets set by the organization. In addition to
this, the company is able to work on lower operation costs and decreased
liability. The more an organization gets involved in the sustainability of the
environment where they are situated they get to establish a good working relationship
with all stakeholders. This reduces any form of barriers or disagreements since
the company such as Majid Al Futtaim ensure there are constant meetings between
all stakeholders to forge future directions bearing in mind the need for all
stakeholders to emerge as beneficiaries (Eccles, Ioannou, & Serafeim,
2014).

Apart from the benefits
that the organization such as Majid Al Futtaim is able, to get from being
involved in sustainability programs it is important to acknowledge that the
community, the public and the environment also stands to benefit. The public
and the communities in the MENA region stand to benefit through charitable
contributions, employee volunteer programs as well as program safety and
quality. On the other hand, the environment benefits from efficient use of
renewable resources and proper use of materials. The society also stands to
benefit through job creation, reduction in diseases, improvement of the economy
and having a better relationship between the members of the society and the
organization (Hopkins et al. 2009).      

In the years from 2011
to 2015, Majid Al Futtaim has been able to achieve many of its set CSR and
sustainability goals. This shows how the company has been committed to ensuring
that they bring a positive change in the communities in the MENA region. The
organization has invested millions of AUD in community development programs.
While the goals set are realistic and are reviewed each year, the organization
has also benefited despite it being an expense to fund the different
sustainability CSR programs. The management of the company has remained
committed to ensuring that they continue to enjoy the above-mentioned benefits
and goals for as long as the community where they operate from has no pressing
societal needs.               

Challenges in operating the
CSR activities by the company

Despite the organization
continuously investing in CSR programs and sustainability activities a number
of challenges are encountered in meeting the goals set. It is the responsibility
of the sustainability management to ensure some of the barriers in sustaining
some of these programs are overcome in the easiest way possible. One of the
challenges in the operation of these activities is the high costs/ expense
involved in ensuring that all project goals have been funded adequately. It is
a challenge to balance between costs of business and costs of CSR activities.
For the organization to continuously become the champion of sustainability, it
must make annual profits from the business it operates. For instance, Majid Al
Futtaim must ensure that its business makes enough profits that enable some of
these profits to be used in doing the charitable activities. Even through
donors and some partners come in, the huge part of funding the programs must be
borne by the organization because it is its initiative. Briefly, the cost of
funding CSR programs is challenging and that is the reason not all
organizations can afford doing them. Another challenge that comes with
operating CSR activities is caused by the complications in logistics. By
logistics it means the number of volunteers needed, employees needed, cars
needed, time needed among others. Plans must be made way before the actual
programs to ensure everything runs as expected (Jonker, 2006).

Another challenge that
faces organizations like Majid Al Futtaim that fully engage in CSR activities
is the lack of support from some stakeholders or shareholders. When some of the
shareholders and stakeholders are opposed to carrying out some programs it
becomes challenging for the people in the organization to carry out all CSR
activities effectively when expected to do so. Some shareholders will argue
that it is the responsibility of the company to make and maximize profits for
the shareholders. Another challenge that is faced in operations of CSR
activities is the accusation that involvement in many of these activities is to
avoid being asked some ethical questions by the civil societies or the
government. Despite these challenges, another challenge in the form of
formulating the best sustainability strategy exists. For Majid Al Futtaim to
formulate their current sustainability strategy it required many consultations
between the stakeholders. Formulating the plan and strategy to implement in rolling
out the CSR programs requires expertise and calmness to ensure that a sound
plan and strategy has been approved for implementation. Finally, a challenge
facing all CSR programs is the lack of reliable indicators of progress. This
means that there lack reliable ways to indicate the level of impact by the
sustainability activities after they have been implemented (Jonker, 2006).   

Recommendations

A number of recommendations
can be given to Majid Al Futtaim to enhance the sustainability efforts that it
has continued to show in the Middle East and Northern Africa. These
recommendations should be considered by the organization after further
consultations with the stakeholders. First, it is recommended that Majid Al
Futtaim should broaden its sustainability activities to cover more societal and
communal needs. It is therefore important for the company to benchmark from the
best western accredited CSR companies so that they can learn on how to expand
what they are currently offering. The second recommendation for the company is
to measure the level of impact of the different sustainability programs and
activities that the company is involved in. Through measuring the level of impact,
Majid Al Futtaim will be able to identify the challenges and barriers that may
prohibit success in these programs. The results of the measurement can also be
used in streamlining the internal process that may prohibit these programs
having a huge impact on the society or community. Thirdly, it is recommended
that Majid Al Futtaim should work more closely with members of the community
through sustainability programs that will empower them and create jobs for
them. Through this, the members of the community will become more independent
and this will have created a long-lasting impact on the lives of these people. It
is also recommended that the sustainability strategy of the organization be
sharp enough to influence the environment and the society. The more the
strategy is inclined on the ensuring that both the community/ society benefits
and the organization benefits from the CSR program the more it will be
appropriate in meeting the intended goals.  
        

Conclusion

In conclusion, Majid
Al-Futtaim is one of the most reputable organizations in the Middle East and
Northern Africa owing to the high investments it has done in sustainability
activities and corporate social responsibility programs. The company has been
involved in activities that touch on healthcare, training and education as well
as direct contribution activities such as Ramadan activities. The
sustainability wing of Majid Al Futtaim has been committed to ensuring that the
company only invests in programs and activities that are of the immediate need
to the society and communities in MENA region. Majid Al Futtaim has been able
to create a competitive advantage over other competitors because of its high
investment in sustainability activities. The company is the largest beneficiary
of these sustainability activities even though there are other beneficiaries
such as the community, the public, the government and the environment. Despite
the benefits, it is important for Majid Al Futtaim to take note and address some
of the challenges that hinder efficient and effective running of the
sustainability operations.     

References

Eccles, R. G., Ioannou, I., & Serafeim,
G. (2014). The impact of corporate sustainability on organizational processes
and performance. Management Science, 60(11), 2835-2857.

Galbreath, J. (2010). How does corporate
social responsibility benefit firms? Evidence from Australia. European
Business Review
, 22(4), 411-431.

Hopkins, M. S., Townend, A., Khayat, Z.,
Balagopal, B., Reeves, M., & Berns, M. (2009). The business of
sustainability: what it means to managers now. MIT Sloan Management Review,
51(1), 20.

Jonker, J. (Ed.). (2006). The challenge of
organizing and implementing corporate social responsibility
. New York, NY:
Palgrave Macmillan.

Majid AL Futtaim Charity
Foundation (2016),Activities; Retrieved from; http://www.majidalfuttaimfoundation.com/About/Activities.aspx

Majid AL Futtaim Properties
(2011), Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Majid AL Futtaim Properties
(2012), Taking Bold Steps; Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Majid AL Futtaim Properties
(2013), Transforming Tomorrow; Sustainability Report

Majid AL Futtaim Properties
(2014), Building from the group; Sustainability Report

Majid AL Futtaim Properties
(2015), Our Sustainability Strategy; Internal Staff Guide

Responsible Business (2012), Majid Al
Futtaim: Serious commitment to advancing sustainability, Retreived from; http://csrlebanon.com.tropaeolum.arvixe.com/Features/FeaturesDetails/ID/187/Majid-Al-Futtaim-Serious-commitment-to-advancing-sustainability

World Green Governing Council (2016), Majid AL Futtaim Properties, Retrieved from; http://www.worldgbc.org/worldgbc/corporate-advisory-board/majid-al-futtaim/

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