Sustainable practices and balancing the books are no longer conflicting goals

Great organisations are measured equally against financial, environmental and social impacts, says Abdullah Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah.

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Gone are the days when organisations could rest on their financial laurels alone. Companies today operate in complicated ecosystems of stakeholders and communities, accountable for far greater impacts that extend well beyond the walls of their operations and deep into the societies in which they are embedded.

Great organisations are now measured equally against financial, environmental and social impacts. It is for this reason that savvy leaders treat sustainability as an integral part of business and strive for the promotion of sustainable practices.

A responsible organisation must be accountable for the lives it touches and the environment it lives in by matching the interests of the environment and the community in which the company operates to stay competitive and innovative.

It’s for these reasons Al Naboodah Group Enterprises has published its first group-wide sustainability report, benchmarked against Global Reporting Initiative sustainability guidelines.

The report highlights the significant contribution the group made to sustainable practices and its alignment with the pillars of the UAE’s Vision 2021 and the Year of Giving initiative of Sheikh Khalifa, the President.

Organisations around the world recognise the need for urgent action on sustainability. We can look to companies like Starbucks, which have led the way.

Starbucks has established a comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing, using responsible purchasing practices that have seen the company recognised for building a sustainable supply chain and changing the game on sustainability in the food and agriculture sector.

At Al Naboodah, we’ve taken heed from the lead of such companies. The theme of our first report is reflected in our attitude to sustainability – preserving our heritage and working towards a sustainable future. This is why we have embedded sustainability in everything we do, supporting our vision to be an employer and business partner of choice.

That’s the beauty of investing in sustainable practices. We know the power and benefits of doing good deeds pays rewards through brand loyalty, increased employee retention and recruitment, reduced costs (through energy and water efficiency programmes) and ultimately improving the bottom line.

UAE Vision 2021 focuses on improving the quality of life of citizens across several measures, which is exactly what a sustainable approach to business should attempt to accomplish.

At Al Naboodah, we have taken great strides in achieving this through reducing our Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate, investing more than 40 per cent of our turnover on local suppliers through our “UAE first” procurement programme and partnering with community programmes.

This is just the beginning of a new sustainability journey for Al Naboodah. Looking ahead we will improve our sustainability practices, design safer and more environmentally friendly operations and deepen our engagement with the communities in which we operate.

What we have learnt is that sustainable practices and balancing the books are no longer conflicting goals. A high-achieving and profitable company can be financially astute and sustainable at the same time. The leadership of the UAE has bestowed upon us a vision and pathway for aligning our operations to achieve sustainability success. We owe it not only to our companies, but also to the communities in which we operate, to embed sustainability in everything we do.

Abdullah Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah is the chairman of Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding.

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