AUC's Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement Launches

Published March 31st, 2010 - 09:29 GMT

AUC's Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement Launches
Corporate Sustainability Capacity Building Program

AUC's Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement Launches
Corporate Sustainability Capacity Building Program

CAIRO, March 31, 2010/PRNewswire/ --     With over 150 leaders from the
private sector, the public sector and
civil society from Egypt in attendance, the John D. Gerhart Center for
Philanthropy and Civic Engagement launched the Corporate Sustainability
Capacity Building Program at the Semiramis Intercontinental Cairo Hotel,
Garden City, Cairo.

 

    The program has been developed to respond to the clear need for the
private sector in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia to not only
understand what corporate sustainability means to their business, but also
to
acquire the skills necessary to implement sustainable business practices. By
doing so, they will be able to both implement and integrate corporate
sustainability in a manner that will serve the bottom-line of their
companies
and positively impact the sustainable development of their surrounding
communities.

 

    Moderated by AUC Provost Lisa Anderson, the event was highlighted with a
panel discussion entitled: "Sustainability: A Paradigm Shift in Management".
An introduction was given by David Arnold, President of the American
University in Cairo. The panelists included: H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin,
Egyptian Minister of Investment; Mr. Fadi Ghandour, Founder and Chief
Executive Officer of Aramex International; Mr. Frederic Sicre, Executive
Director of Abraaj Capital; Mr. Helmy Abouleish, Vice Chairman and Managing
Director of SEKEM; and, Mr. Mounir Thabet, UNDP Country Director. During a
dynamic and thought-provoking discussion, the panelists focused on the
evolution of corporate sustainability in a global context with emphasis on
the transformative effects corporate sustainability can have on the Arab
region as a whole.

 

    Announcing that AUC will become the first university in the region to
join the UN global compact, President Arnold underscored how corporate
sustainability was essential for "sound business today and in the future."
This was followed by welcoming remarks by Dr. Barbara Ibrahim, Director of
the Gerhart Center, who highlighted how corporate sustainability can bring
about a paradigm shift in management.

 

    AUC Provost Lisa Anderson reflected on the program as a means by which
universities can go beyond "preaching to practice" and can yield world-wide
development. She praised the program and stated the Gerhart Center's unique
role as a convener and catalyst in establishing such ground-breaking
programs. Mr. Youssef Mansour could not make it to the event but sent a
statement that was delivered by Provost Anderson. By promoting civic
engagement and corporate sustainability, Mr. Mansour asserted that The
Gerhart Center has made it easier for companies to better serve their
communities.

 

    In the panel discussion, H.E. Minister Mohieldin announced that "We've
just had our third annual conference for CSR" and related how the Egyptian
government is supportive of the corporate sustainability model, emphasizing
the collaborative role the government has been taking to enhance industry's
ability to develop and implement sustainable factors. H.E. the minister
cited
the 10% reduction in taxes and the effects it has already had as an example
of this governmental engagement. During the closing remarks, H.E. the
minister also cited that the ultimate accountability for sustainable
practices in society lies with the government. Another concrete example that
H.E. the minister discussed with the audience, was the development of the
environmental, social and governance index that has been developed for
companies listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, which is only the second
such index in the world so far.

 

    Mr. Fadi Ghandour discussed how entrepreneurship takes root in hardships
and the desire to solve problems. He elaborated on this by discussing how
sustainability needs to be built into the DNA of an organization and not
just
used as an "add on" practice. In response to Provost Anderson's question
about how companies need to internalize a sense of responsibility and not
simply use their interface with the community as a marketing strategy, Mr.
Frederic Sicre stated that the environment is changing for the better and
that corporations are now more directly involved in the societies with which
they interact. This, he said, is "the beginning of a path that has a lot of
good promise for the Arab World." Mr. Abouleish asserted that all envision
the future to be different and discussed how corporate sustainability can be
a tool to affect that difference. Mr. Mounir Thabet discussed UNDP's role in
promoting corporate sustainability and how it can be sought as a true
business model.

 

    "This program was designed out of a belief that businesses can
contribute
to sustainable social change in a more meaningful manner if they develop an
integrated sustainability focus in the overall management of their
businesses," said Dina Sherif, Associate Director of the Gerhart Center.

 

    The program will be implemented in partnership with Abraaj Capital,
Mansour Group, Aramex International, the International Executive Education
Institute, AUC; Al Khazindar Business Research and Case Center, AUC; the
United Nations Development Program and the Egyptian Corporate Responsibility
Center (ECRC).


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