Published On: 17/12/2014

Dubai, UAE: In order to stimulate corporate involvement in community development through employee volunteering, the Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business’s ENGAGE Dubai programme organised a seminar at the Dubai Chamber premises recently to promote skills-based volunteering opportunities amongst the private sector.

The ENGAGE Dubai programme, managed by the Dubai Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business, connects businesses to community partners to get their support on different community projects. The main objective of ENGAGE Dubai programme is to stimulate corporate involvement in community development through employee volunteering.

With its focus on leveraging the specialised skills and talents of individuals in the knowledge-based capacity building community projects, the seminar provided an overview of the Skill Based Volunteering opportunities offered by ENGAGE Dubai community partners including C3: Consult and Coach for Cause, INJAZ-UAE and Growing Leaders Foundation.

The seminar also featured a case study from DLA Piper to demonstrate how companies can work effectively with the community partners by using their key strengths in order to make a positive contribution to the local community.

Opening the floor for other speakers at the seminar, Syed Atif Ali from Dubai Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business explained the importance of Skills-based Volunteering programme which is a practice of matching volunteers with tasks or responsibilities in which they have knowledge, expertise, or professional experience and how participating companies can engage their employees in such programs more effectively.

He emphasized that volunteering is a three-way relationship between a company, its volunteers and the community organization, as each of these stakeholders have their own opportunities and challenges in order to make an employee volunteering programme successful. The key here is that the companies treat such programmes like any other business process with proper reporting methods to measure the social impact created, he said.

Anna-Liisa Goggs, COO, C3: Consult and Coach, which is a UAE-based social enterprise enabling emerging social entrepreneurs to become active agents of positive social change, explained the C3 approach to use the power of business to make a social change while maximising a company’s impact through skills-based volunteering.

On her part, Sulaf Saleh Al-Zu’bi, CEO, INJAZ-UAE, a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, stressed on her organisation’s strategy of empowering young people to own their economic success as she highlighted the importance of providing the relevant training and guidance to their corporate volunteers to ensure a successful and engaging experience.

Sallyann Della Casa, Dreamer-in-Chief, and Lead Tree Shaker, Growing Leaders Foundation, a social enterprise focusing on Corporate Social Education programmes through HR and CSR platforms, during her presentation engaged participants on topics such as “Paid volunteerism – is it paying to play and is it worth it?” and “How thoughtful volunteerism can positively impact the employees and the brand.’’

Rasha Kashkoush, Community Engagement Manager, EMEA, DLA Piper Middle East LLP, shared her company’s pro bono legal services offered to low-income and disadvantaged individuals, families and non-profit groups. As one of the largest law firms in the world, DLA Piper develops, manages and delivers pro bono and community engagement programs in size, scale, and scope unlike any other global law firm.

Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber, stated that skills-based volunteering programmes play an important role in harnessing the talent of the private sector employees to help community partners resolve social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the community.

He further stated that since its launch, the ENGAGE Dubai programme has been instrumental in inspiring and encouraging companies to mobilise the time, talent, energy and resources of their employees to contribute to the community as well as to enhance their reputation in the marketplace.

He added that since its inception in 2008, more than 11,632 volunteers from 110 ENGAGE Dubai member companies spent more than 32,803 hours to support more than 71,566 beneficiaries in different community projects across the UAE.

“Over the years, the ENGAGE Dubai programme, has maximised both the quantity and quality of employee volunteering in the UAE while supporting Dubai Chamber’s efforts in promoting responsible business practices. The programme has also been contributing to spread a culture of corporate social responsibility for adopting voluntary work amongst the business community,’’ said Dr. Rettab.

ENGAGE Dubai programme mobilises employees to volunteer during work hours in communities to make a real difference on the issues that matter to the business community, schools, universities, local charities and community groups. Each year ENGAGE Dubai organises a Give and Gain Day to celebrate the power of volunteering. The next event will be held on May 14, 2015.

Launched in 2008 by the Centre for Responsible Business, ENGAGE Dubai is part of an international network of businesses and community organisations that collaborate to support the development of healthy and sustainable communities through increasing the quality and quantity of employee involvement and volunteering in their local communities. The international ENGAGE Program, managed by Business in the Community (BITC) in the UK, operates in major cities including Paris, Frankfurt, Istanbul, and Hong Kong.