Demanding companies to play a prominent societal role in a social responsibility conference

مطالبة الشركات بدور مجتمعي بارز في مؤتمر للمسؤولية الاجتماعية

The first Palestine Social Responsibility Conference was held. In the city of Ramallah, for the first time in the Palestinian territories, topics and discussions took place in the five conference sessions, in addition to presenting many experiences at the local and regional levels in social responsibility for the civil sector and the private sector, as well as at the level of individual initiatives that have achieved great successes.

The objectives of the conference, as explained by the organizers, were to unify efforts and determine the priorities of institutions. Representatives of some private sector institutions presented their vision of social responsibility, in addition to their role in this field.

The media played a prominent role in the conference, by presenting the role of various media outlets in consolidating and strengthening the concept of social responsibility, and presenting it through different angles and programmes.

One of the conference sessions dealt with the role of the Palestinian private sector and its social responsibility. The discussion revolved around the concept of social responsibility for this sector and the companies’ distinction between the advertising role and the social role of their societal contributions.

Among the criticisms directed at the conference was the lack of momentum for the private sector in the conference session, as Imad Al-Laham from the Palestinian Telecommunications Company considered that the attendance was timid on the part of the private sector groups.

Al-Lahham explained that the goal of companies is profit, with the need to differentiate between companies that achieve large profits and do not have a prominent role in society as a tangible, moral and patriotic contribution towards it. He stressed the need for companies that achieve profits to have a percentage of these profits directed to society and to cover some of its needs. At the same time, he pointed out the inability of the private sector in general to meet all of society’s needs.

Al-Lahham said that the Palestinian Telecommunications Group has spent about 63 million dollars on social responsibility in the form of sustainable projects and scholarships amounting to 3,300 scholarships, in addition to decent life programs for some poor families and an initiative to provide some schools with computers.

Al-Lahham denied that the focus of the group’s work in the field of social responsibility was on cities only, and said that the countryside and remote areas have the largest share in these contributions.

While Thaer Hamayel from the Bank of Palestine explained that there is a difference between advertising and the bank’s social responsibility, and said that the latter must be part of the corporate strategy, pointing to four main axes of the bank’s social responsibility, which are providing a sound work environment, achieving successes for investors, and providing good banking services to customers. The bank, in addition to social contributions and serving citizens and people with needs in all fields.

Hamayel said that the private sector needs to coordinate roles to achieve successes and cover an important role in meeting the needs of society, stressing at the same time that providing the needs of citizens is the responsibility of the government and not companies, and that the bank contributes to meeting part of these needs as a matter of its social responsibility towards the country, but not He is required to play the role of the government in this aspect.

He pointed to the bank’s role in the field of social responsibility and the bank’s implementation of projects with the participation of civil society associations and institutions and those interested.

For his part, Shadi Qawasma from Wataniya Mobile said that his company has been working diligently in the field of social responsibility since its inception and before it achieved profits. He explained that there is no problem with commercial sponsorship that benefits the company and society at the same time, stressing that successful work is an ongoing charity.

He pointed to the activities and contributions achieved by Wataniya Mobile since its inception, which considered social responsibility as a business approach.

In turn, Jamal Haddad from the Palestine Investment Fund said that the Fund is working diligently to cover programs and establish large projects related to the most important sectors in society, such as the energy and electricity sectors. He said that there is room for any owner of a project idea who needs funding to enter the Fund’s electronic website and fill out a form explaining his request, and the Fund will In turn, he will study the request and decide on it.

He referred to projects sponsored by the Fund as part of its social responsibility towards the nation and the citizen, including employing thousands of graduates in Lebanese camps, establishing projects in Jerusalem, and agreeing with the International Labor Organization to link students of vocational specializations in the world of business.

Participants in the session expressed their fear that social responsibility would turn into a form of blackmail by some small associations.