Over 50 UOWD students and staff benefited from a guest lecture on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) from Mr Elliot Lewis, Senior Real Estate Portfolio Manager at GE Global Operations recently. Attendees were given the opportunity to learn more about Mr Lewis’ role as the Council Leader for GE Volunteers UAE, one of the affinity groups within GE that focuses directly on CSR in the community.
The one-hour lecture focused on defining CSR, and gave students the opportunity to understand how it works and why organisations engage in such practices. As Mr Lewis explained, “CSR practices are generally self-regulated. It is often up to the corporations what kind of community activities they engage in.”
“As with GE, responsible corporations maintain their standards wherever they go, ensuring every stakeholder in the entire supply chain is engaged in responsible practice. This enhances the internal and external stakeholders’ cultural, social and economic values, helping to bind all stakeholders to a basic common cause.”
Mr Lewis, who was part of the team that led the submission for the Dubai Chamber CSR Label that GE won this year, further commented that ”Engaging in CSR practices may not highlight short-term benefits for a corporation. However, in the long-run, the returns can be very positive. “He quoted the example of the recent stand taken by Standard Chartered that joined an industry pact against deforestation and highlighted how if larger corporations do take such stands, eventually bad practices will be weeded out, helping the greater community and ultimately the corporations’ bottom line.
With an in-depth look at some of the practices GE Volunteers engage in the region, Mr. Lewis captured the audience’ attention with students asking a variety questions from the kind of returns on CSR practices to the impact on the corporations if they promise and do not deliver on such practices.
“The lecture was an eye-opening experience,” said Mr Hossam Al Masri, a final-year student at UOWD. “The topic is very contemporary and the information provided was very insightful to us.”
“As part of our university’s approach to discovery learning, we always try to enhance our students’ learning experience by bringing industry into the classroom,” concluded Dr Zeenath Khan, lecturer of Ethics at UOWD. “In keeping with that practice, we organised the guest lecture to give students the opportunity to interact with experts from the industry and understand corporate social responsibility.”