“Businesses throughout the Islamic world are set to prosper with the advancing of the IRI.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a global leader in philanthropy, distributing more zakat than any other country in the Islamic world. The government’s visionary ambition to lead the country toward a stronger, diversified and green economy by leveraging the synergy effects of both philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) unleashes the enormous potential of Saudi Arabia becoming a global leader in CSR.
Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI), a non-profit organization creates an innovative framework for CSR reporting, designed to support companies that increase sustainable profit and growth by building on inherent strengths of Islamic principles and values.
“Collaborating extensively with governmental and corporate clients across Islamic countries, we recognized a unique harmony between Islamic principles and values as an essential part of corporate culture, and the objectives of CSR,” said Elffers.
“We realized this opened up endless opportunities for Islamic governments and companies implementing CSR and sustainable development. This potential had remained largely untapped, since none of the existing, mainstream reporting frameworks provided relevant compatibility.”
Henceforth, the idea of IRI came into existence, making it the first of its kind. The IRI is an industry standard based on Islamic values for measuring and evaluating CSR. By recognizing and embracing the characteristics of Islamic business practice, the IRI enables organizations to report more effectively on their CSR and philanthropic efforts, thereby accelerating the achievements of sustainable value and growth. It is a unique business tool, focusing on delivering the business benefits of CSR, such as optimizing management and efficiency, and thus increasing productivity.
So far, the response to IRI throughout the world has been truly phenomenal. Potentially beneficial to over 50 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and all international organizations operating in Islamic countries, the IRI established a membership base in more than 30 countries in less than six months. Members in Saudi Arabia include Zain, the International Medical Center and Glowork.
“Saudi Arabia is transitioning toward a knowledge-based economy, and integral to the success of this transition is the education and employment of women,” said Khalid Alkhudair, founder and CEO, Glowork. “Collaborating with the IRI, an organization which promotes such values, presents us with an excellent opportunity to work alongside businesses in delivering on national ambitions,” he said.
Al-Ramadi Qaad Al-Saqari, general supervisor of Saudi Network for Social Responsibility, said, “Businesses throughout the Islamic world are set to prosper with the advancing of the IRI. Unique in its capacity to recognize and apply the values of Islamic business culture in a way that is compatible with international standards of CSR and sustainability, the IRI will serve the sustainable interests of societies and economies worldwide.”
Several organizations such as World Bank and OIC have also embraced IRI as an excellent combination of Islamic values and advancement in CSR.
“Heading Corporate Responsibility (CR) and sustainability projects at World Bank, I have become very familiar with the challenges in delivering and reporting on CR and CSR-related programs,” said Dr. Faisal Al-Hothali, former head of the CR Program and senior environmental specialist, task team leader at World Bank. He added that IRI presents an exciting solution, aspiring to be a starting point and platform for change. IRI’s intelligent combination of cultural values and technological advancement is the future of CR and CSR reporting.
“In a nutshell, I wish I had had this tool years ago,” he said.
OIC has also commended IRI in its efforts to promote economic, social and environmental prosperity in a manner that is not only impact-oriented and sustainable, but culturally relevant and responsive. The OIC, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting Islamic values of peace, equality, human dignity as well as environmental prosperity, finds values of IRI aligned with its own.
Elffers noted that governments play an instrumental role in advancing CSR, and the IRI can provide a powerful tool to accelerate measurable progress for businesses to deliver on the national vision.
“We are honored to have Jordan’s Minister of Environment Dr. Taher Shakhshir as one of our first advisory council members,” he said. “We call upon everyone interested in supporting or collaborating with the IRI to get in touch, and help realize a legacy of sustainable development for Saudi Arabia and the entire Islamic world.”