The Rise of Corporate Social Responsibility in the UAE

By Stephen Stocks, Marketing & Communications Manager

The United Nations (UN) Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative and has recently launched a local network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). NRS International is honoured to have been appointed a member of its Steering Committee. In this blog we take a closer look at the Global Compact initiative and how we are actively embedding its sustainability ethos throughout our business.

NRS International | The Rise of Corporate Social ResponsibilityOur colleague Nicole Malick, who focuses on Corporate Social Responsibility within our company, is representing NRS International on the UAE Steering Committee.

“I am very proud we officially launched the UAE chapter last week in Dubai and that NRS International can play an active role in building this sustainability initiative. We are looking forward to the challenge of helping UAE companies adopt socially responsible practices and to promote the ten principles throughout the wider business community, taking into consideration the unique culture of the UAE,” stated Ms. Malick.

The rise of corporate social responsibility and the UN Global Compact

NRS International | The Rise of Corporate Social ResponsibilityAs the world around us becomes ever more unpredictable and turbulent, more companies are coming to realise that an altogether different approach to business is required if they are to remain successful. They recognise that working in isolation is no longer viable and that they need to become more intimately acquainted and connected with their economic, social and environmental systems. As a result, awareness of corporate social responsibility is on the rise, and both large and small companies are embedding sustainability strategies into their core business.

For the past 15 years, the UN has been helping to drive the adoption of such corporate social responsibility best practices through the Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. This encourages businesses to support ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment, and anti-corruption. To date, more than 8,000 companies and 4,000 other stakeholders have joined up, including NRS International in 2012.

Launch of the UAE network

The UN actively seeks to extend the take up of the Global Compact ideals in all regions and as part of this expansion exercise it has recently confirmed the launch of a local Global Compact network in the UAE. Similar to other country networks around the world, this local network is designed to be multi-stakeholder, being led, but not dominated, by business. It aims to provide a platform for dialogue and learning, and a means of highlighting best practices. In essence, it is a network of like-minded businesses, all striving towards a more sustainable future.

NRS International to play a leading role

NRS International | The Rise of Corporate Social ResponsibilityThe local network is self-managing and has its own governance structure, a key component of which is the Steering Committee. NRS International, a member of the Global Compact since 2012, is honoured to have been selected as a member of this local network’s Steering Committee.

Ms Malick continues: “We have invited key clients and partners to the launch ceremony, which took place in Downtown Dubai. We encourage all of our partners to become a signatory of the UN Gobal Compact and support responsible business practices. It is a voluntary initiative to promote and advance responsible business and it provides a universal value framework to help businesses get organised. It is not a PR exercise, but a change of business approach that will define the new way of doing business, with eye for our people, planet but at the same time, profit.”

Sustainability in action

NRS International | The Rise of Corporate Social ResponsibilityNRS International is a passionate advocate of sustainability and we have made great progress in spreading this philosophy throughout our subsidiaries and suppliers. For instance, our Flexiway Solar Solutions subsidiary was established after our founder travelled to remote communities in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania and saw the need for reliable solar technology that would have minimal environmental impact. We subsequently brought that belief home and have prioritised the reduction of our own carbon footprint and dependency on the electrical grid. This led us to install our Solar Street Power lights in our Dubai headquarters and our Lahore factory, thus significantly reducing energy consumption.

Our ongoing commitment to gender equality and equal opportunity is another powerful example. We have pioneered women’s empowerment in Pakistan which culminated in the opening of a groundbreaking female-only unit in our Lahore factory. In early 2015 we deepened this commitment by signing the UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) and simultaneously launched our HeForShe campaign.

Building on success

In the words of Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell, “Business and investors around the world increasingly see the connection between the bottom line and the health of societies. While we have made much progress, we still have a long way to go.’’ At NRS International we are looking forward to sharing our experiences, to promoting the importance of sustainable business practices and to the opportunity to learn from others. We aim to set a new standard of socially responsible business practices in the humanitarian relief sector and to contribute to the UAE becoming a world leader in sustainability.

Become a member

We invite UAE companies to join the movement and become a member. For more information, please visit the UNGC UAE website or contact Ms. Malick on

More photos can be found here.

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