Family first – how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can contribute to Qatar’s vision of strong cohesive families
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), established the Institute in 2006 to support the aims of the Doha Declaration on the Family (2004) through research, policy and outreach activities.
As a member of Qatar Foundation that supports Qatar’s transition from a carbon-based to a knowledge-based economy by unlocking human potential, DIFI focuses on a crucial element to the overall development of our social and cultural life – the family.
This is in line with QF’s mission to foster a progressive society while enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage, and addressing immediate social needs in the community.
The family is the core of Qatar society. Qatar permanent Constitution recognizes this fact and stipulates that State laws shall regulate adequate means to protect the family, support its structure and strengthen its ties. Moreover, Qatar Vision 2030 recognizes the impact of modernization and rapid population growth on Qatari society and plans to advance social development by nurturing its citizens as well as preserving and protecting strong and cohesive families. Family cohesion is not only a goal of the National Development Strategy 2011-16, but also one the enablers for the achievement of Qatar Vision.
Striking a balance between work and family is a major challenge facing women and men in today’s world. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, which was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1994 to focus the world’s attention on the role of the family and its contribution to overall development. Work-family balance was one of the three themes selected by the General Assembly for this anniversary in addition to confronting poverty and advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity. The Doha Institute marked this important observance by organizing an international conference in Doha in April 2014 on theme of “Empowering families: a pathway to development” which culminated in the adoption of the Doha Call to Action – a powerful consensus statement by major civil society organizations calling on governments to acknowledge that families are the center of sustainable development and to empower them by implementing specific actions, including the adoption of policies to ensure work-and-family balance.
The imbalance between work and family responsibility is impacting society as a whole and not only the working individuals and their families. Corporations in Qatar frequently feel this impact in the constant loss of qualified staff members, mostly women, frequent absenteeism or reduced productivity. In today’s competitive business world, the tendency to view people only in the framework of human resources involves misunderstanding what matters most to their employees – their families. Corporate Family Responsibility (CFR) is a term coined by the International Center for Work-and-Family Balance at IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain, to address “the internal, essential nuclear dimension of CSR.” In short, CFR is the commitment of companies to exhibit leadership, create a culture and implement policies that enable their employees to integrate personal and family life with work commitments.
The Doha Institute recommends that Corporate Family Responsibility be integrated in any national strategy for social responsibility and until such strategy is developed, corporations are encouraged to voluntarily undertake a review of their relevant policies and practices and assess the level of support they provide to their employees to help them reconcile their personal and family life with work. To align CSR to support Qatar Vision, the Institute recommends looking inwards and focusing on society’s most fundamental unit – the family.