Channel Post MEA catches up with Nishi Vijan, HR Manager – Middle East & Africa at Acer to discuss the state of CSR in the Middle East and what are the key highlights of Acer’s CSR program and its success in the region.
How would you describe the CSR landscape in the Middle East region?
In my opinion the overall CSR landscape in the Middle East has improved substantially over the last decade or so; companies in the region are becoming more socially responsible and making conscious efforts towards contributing to the society. Having said that, I do believe we have a long way to go. As a region, we are still very young in terms of our CSR initiatives and a lot of work needs to be done in terms of increasing awareness among the general public and encouraging participation. I also believe we need to adopt internationally acclaimed methodologies that can helps us generate reliable data and use it to measure our impact on the environment. This will help us better inform which initiatives are making a difference and the ones we need to revisit.
How is Acer responding to the requirements for CSR in the region and how would you describe Acer CSR program for the Middle East?
Acer Middle East has been operating here in the region for just under 30 years and we have been working hard to do our part through various CSR initiatives, every year. Our program is designed to bring our employees and stakeholders closer to the company’s human-centric values.
In the region, we have been driving initiatives that create a positive impact, as we believe it’s our responsibility to give back to society and to protect the Earth. Some of the local organizations we have worked closely with include Arabian CSR and Emirates Environmental Group, who lead some of the biggest CSR initiatives in the region.
What are the key features of Acer’s CSR program?
Acer’s CSR program is focused around two factors;
Education – from addressing the digital divide and cultivating talent, we are empowering children to use technology to better their futures
Environment – from resource optimization to product innovation, we are minimizing our impact on the environment.
From your perspective, what is the role of CSR and how important is it for a company to have a CSR program?
In the world we live in today, it is crucial for companies to operate in a way that is considered socially responsible. Ethical work practices and being socially responsible is a vital component to the success of any organization. An effective CSR program would not only help improve the brand image of the organization but also bring in public recognition and increased customer engagement which will give the organization a direct advantage over their competition.
From an employee point of view; people would rather work with companies that have a good public image; which will further help retain and attract top talent in the industry. It also creates a positive work environment, which in turn has a positive impact on the overall productivity of its employees.
What are the major CSR initiatives for Acer in the region?
Acer has successfully implemented a number of initiatives in the past – summary below:
- Saying no to single-use plastic in the office. Acer aims at becoming a plastic free office in the UAE, over the coming years.
- Hosted blood donation drives and invited other companies and partners to participate and donate blood.
- Help the less fortunate campaign included donating to the animal shelter, assisted labourers in repatriation during COVID, donated to Red Cross Lebanon to assist families who have been impacted by the recent blast in Beirut
- Tree planting – to date, we have planted over 200 trees through organizations around the world
- Responsible disposing of e-waste
- Donation of IT hardware to the Dubai Autism Center
- Distribution of reusable grocery bags
- Donation of Acer laptops to all employees with kids, to assist them with e-learning/ studying from home
- We encouraged our employees to commit to 30 green actions over a period of time. Some of the actions employees chose included: reducing use of plastic, eating a vegetarian meal once every week, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, carpooling, wearing sustainable clothing, using reusable bags, etc.
How do you motivate your workforce to be part of CSR initiatives?
I believe what has worked for Acer Middle East is to be a part of initiatives that are close to the hearts of the employees. We do this by encouraging feedback and maintaining an open communication channel between the employees and CSR team. Our initiatives are driven based on the interest of our employees.
Another important factor that has led to the success of our initiatives is keeping it simple. Employees clearly understand how they can participate in the programs; with increased involvement, comes a feeling of fulfillment. We at Acer also provide paid time off to employees for voluntary work.
What is key to a successful CSR program and how do you assess the success of your CSR initiatives?
Other than following the interest of our employees, which results in increased involvement and engagement; the key to a successful CSR program is consistency and building a work culture of giving back to the society.
There are two methodologies we use to assess our success; firstly, the GHG (Green House Gas) reporting, where we submit data to our regional headquarters on a quarterly basis and it measures our carbon footprint and second, the employee opinion surveys that assist measure employee engagement based on six factors, which includes CSR.
What are the next few CSR initiatives planned for the rest of the 2020/2021?
We have a few of initiatives planned for the rest of the year, which are;
- A blood donation drive
- Random act of kindness – it’s like a relay the baton of kindness will be handed over from one person to another
- Voluntary day at the animal shelter
- Donating essential packs to families in need through local organisations