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Businesses must Embrace the Power of Corporate Philanthropy in Accelerating Pandemic Recovery

Badr Jafar calls for creation of Gulf Corporate Philanthropy Network to boost cooperation and coordination between businesses

Crescent Enterprises CEO Badr Jafar has called for the creation of a Gulf Corporate Philanthropy Network to encourage all businesses to embrace the transformative power of strategic corporate giving, as businesses across the region and the world play a leadership role in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit on Tuesday, Badr Jafar, who also founded the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the University of Cambridge, said: “Beyond the ill-effects on the pandemic, it provided many with an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the status quo in relation to the role of business in society, with a greater acceptance of the notion that business really has no other choice but to be at the forefront of addressing our social and environmental challenges.”

“This is not simply a moral imperative, but a commercial one, with inextricable links between long-term economic success and positive societal impact,” Jafar added.

The World Economic Forum Jobs Reset Summit brought together world leaders and top business executives to collaborate on shaping a fair, inclusive, green socio-economic COVID-19 recovery. In 2020, the global workforce lost an equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs, $3.7 trillion in wages and 4.4% of global GDP. While the growth outlook is expected in improve, a fair socio-economic recovery is not guaranteed.

Badr Jafar made his comments during the session A New Vision for Business Leadership for Social Justice and was joined by other speakers including Sharon Thorne, Global Chair of Deloitte, Ebony Beckwith, CEO of Salesforce Foundation, Jacqueline Fuller, President of Google.org, Asahi Pompey, President of Goldman Sachs Foundation, and Jonas Prising, Chairman and CEO of Manpower Group.

As founder of the Pearl Initiative, a non-profit established in 2010 to boost standards of corporate governance across the Gulf Region, Jafar also advocated for the essential role that governance plays in building resilience to future shocks: “We mustn’t see the individual components of ESG as being mutually exclusive. They are linked. Environmental and social goals are two sides of the same coin, and I like to think of the governance dimension, the G, as the edge of that coin, which binds everything together. Governance in many ways is the most important aspect of the ESG agenda, as strong corporate governance creates the foundations upon which a business’ agenda of purpose is built.”

The discussion also addressed the opportunity to embrace strategic philanthropy as an important partner in elevating social impact across the world, in particular within the most vulnerable communities. With the top 30 fastest growing economies in the world in 2019 all in emerging markets and more than 5 trillion dollars in wealth expected to be passed from one generation to the next over the next 10 years, there will be a major increase in philanthropic activity in these societies in the years ahead.

“For too long, philanthropy has been treated like the neglected child of capitalism. It is seen by too many as a peripheral concern, and even viewed in some parts of the world with suspicion. The reality is that well over a trillion of dollars of private philanthropic capital, more than triple the annual global development and humanitarian aid budgets combined, is deployed every year. We must not squander the opportunity to deploy this capital strategically, to where it is needed the most and with maximum impact” Jafar said.

It is estimated more than 10 percent of working hours in the Middle East region were lost in the second and third quarter of 2020 due to COVID, equivalent to 24 million full time jobs. The session addressed the urgent need for businesses to work together to alleviate the socio-economic impact of these job losses, and coordinate their responses.

On the opportunity to collaborate, Jafar commented: “Businesses will of course always compete with one another, but we can generate a multiplier effect on impact by collaborating and cooperating on our social missions, and there are many models for such collaboration – for example pooling capital, sharing data, intelligence and learnings, leveraging each other’s networks, or even just brainstorming solutions together.”

The Jobs Reset Summit held discussions around four themes: economic growth, revival and transformation; work, wages and job creation; education, skills and learning; and diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.

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