Posted on April 24, 2016

Vodafone Qatar, in collaboration with its esteemed Knowledge Partner Carnegie Mellon University (CMUQ), brought together scores of peers and experts in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to debate the critical role a well-defined corporate purpose and solid business ethics play in creating sustainable change.

Experts were brought together under the umbrella of Vodafone’s CSR Majlis. The CSR Majlis programme aims to provide an open platform that facilitates dialogue and knowledge sharing between peers representing both the public and private sectors of Qatar. Vodafone will hold a CSR Majlis, with different themes, on a regular basis to connect the leaders of this field and bring them together to explore ways of collaborations and mutual support. The CSR Majlis entailed a working session and a debate around how to incorporate solid ethics into the way businesses operate and how to craft purpose-based frameworks for organisational change. The Majlis spurred a number of crucial questions about how a clear organisational purpose merged with unwavering corporate ethical behaviour can inevitable lead to positive sustainable change that impacts both internal and external stakeholders.

Dana Haidan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Vodafone Qatar, said: “It is crucial that we have an open dialogue about business ethics as corporate entities in Qatar as exchanging best practices helps with reflecting these principles onto our daily business conduct to ensure that the organisation is meeting its duties towards the society in which its operates while doing business responsibly.” Vodafone’s CSR Majlis hosted Mr. Alexander R. Wilcox Cheek and Dr. David Emmanuel Gray to spearhead the roundtable discussion.

Alexander R. Wilcox Cheek is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar. He joined the I.S. faculty from the School of Design, where he received a Masters of Design in 2009. In Qatar, he teaches design studies, integrating technology with products, services, information, organizations, and human ecologies. He has received research grants from Google, National Science Foundation, Gates Foundation, Heinz Endowments, and Innovation Works. He is the co-founder of Macromicro, a data visualization company in Boston. In Doha, he leads the Interaction Design Association’s local chapter, which he founded.

Wilcox Cheek said: “Design is a powerful way of advancing change in an organization. Design in the 21st century has come to shape large systems, organizational culture, productivity, and values. This talk will present a tool that enables organization designers to bring high-level visions into concrete reality. The case study presents research conducted at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and transferrable to any complex organization.”

David Emmanuel Gray, Ph.D., is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. He earned a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Montana, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Logic and Computation from Carnegie Mellon University. His teaching interests focus on applied ethics, while his research interests focus on the logic of group decision-making processes. In Qatar, he has worked on social responsibility projects with local companies and ministries. In addition, he has taught executive education classes for various organizations in Qatar, and he has been invited to deliver talks on business ethics, sustainability reporting, ethics of leadership, conflict resolution, and religious tolerance.

Emmanuel Gray said: “Business exalts entrepreneurship and innovation, and yet its notions of ethics are antiquated. This has relegated ethics to the periphery of business practice, where ethics is seen as either a distraction or an outright threat to the business’ core financial responsibilities. By adopting a purpose-based approach, however, ethics is organically integrated into the heart of a business. Ethical responsibilities are as essential to a business as its financial concerns.”

“The joke is that ‘business ethics’ is an oxymoron, where business and ethics pull in opposite directions. This is a cynical falsehood. I engage with businesses so they can see for themselves how ethics is already inherent to their everyday practices.” Gray added.

At its last CSR Majlis in September 2015, Vodafone launched its first Sustainability Report covering the Company’s activities during the 2014 calendar year and follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) principles of sustainability context, stakeholder inclusiveness and materiality analysis. The report reflected Vodafone’s consideration of issues important to their stakeholders, including customers, employees, governments, regulators and communities where they operate, suppliers, their lenders and bondholders, and their equity investment partners.

Vodafone Qatar’s 2014 Sustainability Report is available on www.vodafone.qa/en/social-responsibility

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