June 21, 2019

Islamic Reporting Initiative to transform CSR

With societies recognizing the potential contributions of business in addressing various social and environmental challenges, such responsibilities are beginning to shift towards the private sector. Subsequently, the concept of CSR is increasingly featuring on the agenda of corporations worldwide.

Launched earlier this year, the Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI), a not-for-profit organization headquartered in the UAE, is aiming to create an integrated reporting standard for CSR based on Islamic business principles. It will enable companies across sectors to inclusively assess and report on their CSR programs, facilitating progression towards responsible practice.

The IRI, in its aim of supporting organizations in realizing their CSR ambitions, is unique in its approach; the IRI seeks to tap into the expertise of those with an understanding of local organizational culture as a means of making CSR reporting as relevant and meaningful as possible.

Speaking with Drs Daan Elffers, founder of the IRI, the rationale behind this approach is clear; “we have developed the IRI in response to much research confirming that companies are finding the current, broad tools for CSR application to not always be as relevant or practical in a local context. We believe that a solution can be found in a reporting framework that engages with the nuances of the local culture, while working towards international standards of responsible practice”.

Dr Sied Sadek, Managing Director of DQS CFS and DQS Middle East, international sustainability auditors and corporate partner of the IRI, on the need for a culturally-relevant reporting framework, says; “International standards are sometimes thought to be universal but they seldom are. While important, they are based upon international experience but that does not mean they can completely replace local values. I think that many companies in Islamic countries are caught between international standards and expectations on the one hand, and Islamic business principles and culture on the other hand. In this sense, the IRI can be a much needed initiative to enhance communication between cultures [and] contribute to an appreciation for diversity [of culture].”

Islamic principles serve to imbue individuals and organizations with a responsibility to care for society, and such principles infiltrate society through various practices and perspectives. CSR reports are created to enable CSR program development and to open dialogue with stakeholders, which may include consumers and employees, the government and the general public. As such, it is imperative that the motivations for CSR are framed within the local context, and that the language used is familiar, meaningful and therefore relatable.

The IRI has recently surpassed the milestone of gaining strategic partners from over 20 countries across the MENA region, Asia and Europe, with members representing governmental, corporate and non-profit organizations across sectors including health, finance and environment.

The IRI was founded as a CSR initiative of Drs Daan Elffers, CEO of EMG Group, a CSR Consultancy, where HH Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau is Chairman of the Advisory Board.

For more information on the IRI, please visit www.islamicreporting.org

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