Doing good things or doing things good way?
No one can debate that generating profit is the first responsibility of all corporations, regardless of any other obligations and responsibilities. Social responsibility was introduced in early 1970s to balance between both corporation financial targets and their responsibilities toward the broader community, but the critical questions are:
- What is the aim of corporate social responsibility, is it to do good things or to do things (Business) in a good way?
- Is there a contradiction between making profit and being ethical and responsible?
According to Mr. Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder “…it’s always been difficult for us to lead an examined life as a corporation. I’ve always felt like a company has the responsibility to not wait for the government to tell it what to do, or to wait for the consumer to tell it what to do, but as soon as it finds out it’s doing something wrong, stop doing it”. CSR is about doing business ethically and responsibly, Mr. Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me”.
CSR have big positive impact on businesses financially; a study conduct last year by two management professors at the University of California, found that companies experienced great increases in their stock prices by 0.468 percent within three days of distributing corporate social responsibility news. I wonder what will be the case if the company’s mission and values are driven by CSR!
In order to build in the social responsibility of the organization, seven areas of interest should reflect coherently:
- People within the organization
- Mission and values
- Environmental management
- Social involvement
ictQATAR CSR Practice and Strategy
Caring about others and doing wonderful things, is the spirit of corporate social responsibilities, I found that ictQATAR (Ministry of Telecommunication) is working hard to do so, the organization which is the governmental body responsible for setting ICT policy and regulation, established by Emiri Decree in 2004, and commenced its actual work in 2005.
ictQATAR doesn’t have CSR clear strand in its strategy and it doesn’t have CSR department responsible to look after CSR activities. ictQATAR have an embedded CSR culture in whatever they do. Starting from people within the organization, ictQATAR pay attention to the welfare of its employees, moving out to reach stakeholders (Other governmental entities, Private companies, Citizens, and Residents), as illustrated in figure (1) – Appendix (A).
Considering human resources as the invaluable assets, the ministry gives great concentration to the training and development programs for its personnel, working very hard to discover talents, giving them chances to raise and grow. The ministry produced a group of very young talented leaders, who were discovered and found their way to lead different organizations at different industries in the country. Employees are always encouraged to introduce innovative and outstanding ideas that are aligned with the overall strategy of the ministry to enrich people lives through technology.
Moving out from the ministry to reach the society, ictQATAR was established with a mission to promote innovative technologies, connect citizens to government, help people of all ages and income levels to become comfortable with technology in order to achieve their personal and professional goals, building digital society, and lead sophisticated ICT projects within the country.
ICT skills development initiative (Qatar National e-Learning Portal), through this initiative ictQATAR is committed to prepare ICT skilled workforce to become ready to work in a competitive market space. The potential is to help people in the country to stay up-to-date with the mandatory ICT skills for success. TumuhaTec, on the other hand, provides technical workshops, sponsorship programs for ICT talents and fans to grow and to add value to the technological sector locally.
With the open access to ICT tools and globalization, security and privacy are big concerns for all including private, and public entities, thus ictQATAR established Q-cert, a “security-guard” body in the country, with main mission to respond to relevant threats and vulnerabilities, ensure that ICT security best practices are being followed by government, private entities and individuals. Q-cert also pays high attention to build secured society, by raising awareness among all ICT users, including parents, teachers, and kids, through SafeSpace.qa, a specialized site that allows kids to report for any electronic abuse like “Cyber Bullying”.
Creativity and innovation can’t be boost in the society without maintaining people intellectual properties, thus ictQATAR launched Creative Common – Qatar charter in partnership with Creative Common association (CC). Not far away from Creative Common, ictQATAR launched under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License Digital Qatar, a blog for technology enthusiasts to share their thoughts and ideas related to ICT sector in Qatar.
People with disabilities were not ignored in the massive agenda of ictQATAR, thus mada center were founded, as the specialized center in providing assistive technologies for people with disabilities in the country.
Incubation Center is a remarkable center that supports and empowers technological entrepreneurs legally and financially for span of two years until their projects become mature and can stand alone in the market.
Areas for improvements
Overall ictQATAR got a distingueshed CSR practices, although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the strategy, which are in my point of view are extraordinary, well communicated, nicely executed, and very much appreciated by the society and stakeholders. But there are always areas for improvement, that would enhance Ministry’s position as ICT implementer in Qatar and at the same time will support and sustain its role as telecommunication regulator, please refer to figure(2)-Appendix (A). Here are some of suggested ideas:
ictQATAR is leading ICT development in the country through large scale ICT projects, such projects usually require enormous infrastructure and consequently high energy consumption, improper use of such infrastructure, will have negative impact on the environment. The environmental factor is not on the ministry strategy, this can be achieved through the following initiatives:
- Eco-friendly systems and Standards: Setting up environmental safe standards for using ICT tools and establishing eco-friendly data centers to host large scale projects. Building Data Centers on the concept of green building that uses clean energy like “Solar Systems” will reduce environment pollutions.
- Recycling: establish repair and recycling factory for damaged or out dated equipment (laptops, servers, network devices, etc.) to be donated to the countries in-need or for the sake of local use for research and development purposes.
Utilizing eco-friendly energy will ensure sustainable ICT projects in the long-run, and save the upcoming generations rights to live in clean environment and get benefit from natural sources of energy currently available. The recycling initiative would encourage research mentality within the young generations, at the same time it will support ictQATAR position locally and globally.
Broader involvement of the employees and society in decision making of critical regulations and laws, especially those directly concerning people daily lives. Such involvement will create sense of ownership and allow them to stand by issued laws and regulations.
Building long-term partnership with technology providers locally and globally including telecommunication service providers (ooredoo and Vodafone), will improve ictQATAR access to latest technology and ensure sustainability of implemented projects and eventually will return back to the society.
Figure (1): ictQATAR Current CSR Dimensions, including its core business focus
Figure (2): ictQATAR Suggested CSR Dimensions
- 1. ictQATAR Website, http://www.ictqatar.qa, retrieved on 8th Oct, 2013
- 2. Creative Common, http://www.creativecommons.qa/, retrieved on 8th Oct, 2013
- 3. Safespace, http://safespace.qa/ar, retrieved on 8th Oct, 2013
- 4. Q-Cert, http://www.qcert.org, retrieved on 8th Oct, 2013
- Digital Qatar, http://www.digitalqatar.qa, retrieved on 8th Oct, 2013
- 6. Tumuhatec, http://www.ictqatar.qa/ar/tumuhatec, retrieved on 12th Oct,2013
- The Social Responsibility of Non-Profit Organizations – A Conceptual Approach and Development of the SRO model, Pau Vidal / Domingo Torres, Observatori del Tercer Sector, 2005
- Special Report : Corporate Social Responsibility (Business Value Boosted When Tied To Nonprofit), April 1st 2013, The Non-Profit Times, www.thenonprofittimes.com , retrieved on 14th Oct, 2013.