Published On: 25/11/2020

Dubai, UAE: Companies in Dubai are taking an innovative approach to virtual volunteering and exploring new ways to support community projects in the new normal, according to members of the Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network Community Task Force.

The webinar, titled Reshaping Employee Volunteering During COVID-19, was hosted by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and attended by 58 participants from 41 companies, including industry leaders from the private and community sectors who shed light on how they have adapted volunteering initiatives to meet the challenges of today.

Speakers included Claudia Candiotto, Corporate Responsibility Manager-EMEA at Hilton (UK); Shipra Saxena, Manager-Corporate Responsibility, Transworld Group (UAE); Naila Al Moosawi, Founder at AMAL -Counseling For A Better Tomorrow (UAE); and Manjula Ramakrishnan, President of SmartLife (UAE).

During the event, the speakers shared valuable insights on how corporate volunteering has evolved in the Covid-19 era, as well as their experiences and best practices in effectively engaging employees in virtual volunteering initiatives and community-focused projects. Presentations and discussions highlighted common challenges faced by organisations incorporating new forms of volunteering, such as skills-based volunteering and new solutions to address them.

Candiotto elaborated on Hilton’s global commitment to making a positive impact on the community and emphasised on how promoting skills-based volunteering in an organisation could lead to a long-term and sustainable impact on society.

Saxena outlined opportunities and challenges faced by the company while digitalising their community initiatives. In doing so, they have ensured that the spirit of volunteerism stays alive in the organisation, she noted, adding that this element is a crucial part of keeping employees motivated.

Al Moosawi spoke about how AMAL has transformed its volunteering model by empowering corporate employees and provided them quality experience. Although the pandemic has disrupted business norms, the organisation has continued to embark on the journey of hope to help create an aura of positive well-being within the society, she explained.

Ramakrishnan noted that organisations and their employees have remained resilient in the face of disruption and new challenges. Now more than ever before, entities have a responsibility to support the communities around them and look at new ways to give back to society, especially during unprecedented times, she noted.

For his part, Dr. Belaid Rettab, Chief Economist & Senior Director, Economic Research & Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business, noted that rapid digital transformation of the business landscape has created new opportunities and possibilities for companies to engage with different communities and maximise their social impact.
Dr. Rettab highlighted the active role played by the Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network Community Engagement Task Force in fostering a culture of volunteerism within the business community, adding that its member companies are leading the way in virtual volunteering and setting a positive example for other businesses to follow.

Established by the Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), the Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network serves as the focal point for the business community to share and exchange best practices in implementing CSR and sustainability. The network provides an opportunity for local companies to network, learn, share experiences and constitute CSR leadership.