The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has emerged as one of the foremost countries in adoption and integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, as per the findings of the first annual MENA CSR Survey Report 2020, conducted by Cicero & Bernay Public Relations (C&B), a leading regional communication agency, in partnership with YouGov, an international research and data analytics group. The C&B YouGov report identified the use and implementation of CSR across select countries in the GCC, Levant, and North Africa. UAE, KSA, and Egypt took the lead, with Saudi Arabia proving to be a frontrunner in adopting CSR as a way of life for its business landscape.
219 C-suite executives and corporate leaders from across the MENA region (UAE, KSA, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) were hand-picked due to their position and their contribution to their respective sectors, including government, aviation, automotive, banking and finance, construction and real estate, healthcare and transport. The respondents were asked a series of CSR-related questions that were revisited in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to gauge perception.
The survey found that CSR is no longer an optional feature or luxury; it is a necessity. The survey results indicate that there is a reasonable level of CSR awareness as well as a moderately positive attitude towards the concept in KSA. Key findings pertaining to Saudi Arabia are as follows:
41 per cent of respondents there are familiar with CSR
CSR is not just important for the organisations but is also a factor that job seekers consider. This was marked as an important criterion for 70% of executives in KSA who are fully aligned with this statement
Of the executives surveyed in Saudi Arabia, 90% possessed an intrinsic understanding of the scope of CSR
58% deemed CSR to be integral for their businesses
Ahmad Itani, founder and CEO of C&B and Chairman of PRCA MENA, said: “Working with YouGov to publish the region’s inaugural CSR report is a source of immense pride for us at C&B through which we sought to reflect the impact of regional and global initiatives while also celebrating the rising influence of CSR. The UAE and the KSA emerged as leaders in CSR implementation and incorporation, and while familiarity with CSR regionally has always been of note, the report consolidated how the value of giving is ingrained in the region on a cultural level and not an attribute that needed to be adopted.”
Improving the reputation of a company remained the most selected option for respondents when asked why they thought it was important for businesses to have a CSR plan in place. It was also found that 45 per cent of surveyed leaders from KSA consider CSR to be a means of giving back to society. When the surveyed executives were asked if, as customers or users, they would trust socially responsible brands more, 73 per cent in KSA aligned with the statement.
In his comments, Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov, commented: “This report represents a milestone that underpins the emphasis on CSR across regional sectors and industries. It was a pleasure collaborating with C&B on its publication, and we are delighted and proud to unveil the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leading regional position in the integration of CSR. The demonstration of responsible business practices towards employees, stakeholders and customers was apparent throughout the findings, and we look forward to the continued growth of CSR across the MENA region to influence and inspire its global counterparts.”
For job seekers, the fact that an organisation is socially responsible or not matters. It was marked as an important criterion — KSA showed the highest average of executives (70%) who agree or strongly agree that CSR activities are important when considering opting for a job or rejecting it. Overall, 92 per cent of executives in KSA are upbeat about the impact of CSR.