Queen Rania attends conference promoting corporate-community partnerships that support of progress for women

Responsible corporate practices benefit bottom lines

November 05, 2007

(Linda Hindi, Jordan Times - Amman) Her Majesty Queen Rania said, “Engaging in responsible corporate practices allows businesses to get closer to their clients in a personal way,” which in turn “develops consumer trust and positively affects their bottom line.” 
She made the comments during a training session held within a two-day conference on “Leveraging Corporate-Community Partnerships to Support Women’s Progress”. 
The conference is the result of a year-long project which stimulated the practice of good corporate citizenship in the region.
The Queen, who has encouraged the spirit of active giving and corporate engagement in the community in recent years, explained that donating to a cause is not the same as active community involvement, which should be integrated in the overall business strategy.
“Adopting a cause needs to be more developed in our part of the world… It has been proven time and again that employees feel better when they are working for a larger cause, being closer to your market increases your market share, the giver always benefits more than the receiver… It is a win-win situation all around,” Queen Rania said.
She emphasised that all employees should be actively engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) plans, as opposed to community work being the responsibility of a “department”.
The remarks were in line with core ideas of the “Jordanian Forum for Public-Private Partnerships" (JF-PPP) members while they worked on forming sustainable partnerships between NGOs, the government and the private sector over the past year.
According to the chief consultant at Mahara Professional Consultations in Development (MPCD), Samar Haj Hassan, giving is not new in Jordanian society, “it is something ingrained in our culture through religion, but we wanted to bring sectors together and focus on sustainable approaches”.
The forum worked over the course of the year to “get a feel of what projects are out there, what kind of training is needed” and to bring the givers and receivers together, Haj Hassan told The Jordan Times. 
The MPCD is a main implementing partner in the project.
She believes the project was a success because the private and public sectors were directly engaged and all training sessions at the conference were a result of “what the participants asked for”. 
The underlining factor in all the meetings was how to make these partners work to support progress on issues such as violence against women.
“Although there are many corporations here that have in-depth CSR plans, there is little focus on women’s issues, except for breast cancer… companies would rather distance themselves from some ‘taboo’ women’s issues like violence… we know this area needs support,” Haj Hassan said.
According to her, another aspect of successful programmes is finding the appropriate persons to manage them. “People involved should be passionately committed to get the rest of the team on board.”
Haj Hassan said corporations such as HSBC made “impressive contributions” to local causes during the course of the year through their participation and good management. 
Nada Nasser, marketing and corporate affairs manager at HSBC, told The Jordan Times that the bank has a long history of in-depth social plans but the forum meetings helped them become more aware of local issues that needed attention. 
As a result, HSBC engaged in several new initiatives, which included building a centre for at-risk children in Zarqa. 
Meanwhile, Gurtay Kipcak, Coca-Cola Eurasia Group’s public affairs and communications deputy director, believes it is always important to get involved with other parties to see what is being done and what kind of other opportunities are available, even for corporations with long histories of community work. 
He told The Jordan Times that one element which could have been added to the conference itinerary was the importance of “preventative public awareness campaigns”, as well as making sure that projects and their impact are being communicated to wider audiences.
“If, for example, NGOs restrict their results to certain circles; how are they going to have their voice heard? It is important to find innovative ways to get the attention of the widest audience possible,” said Kipcak, who flew in from Turkey to attend the meetings.
More than 100 participants from Bahrain, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and the US representing the private, public and NGO sectors, convened to showcase the partnerships nurtured among the three sectors over the past eight months.
The project, which sought to support women’s progress through cross-sector partnerships, was initiated by Vital Voices Global Partnership, implemented by the MPCD and funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative.