Iranian firms urged to take charge

Iranian firms urged to take charge

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Iranian firms urged to take charge

The CSR Marketplace, organized at at Kadir Has University showcases companies’ efforts to engage in social responsibility projects. Companies from six countries in the region including Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia attended the event. DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜREL

Despite the political tensions Iran is experiencing in the international community and the economic embargo imposed on it, an Iranian NGO has been working to bring international standards to the Iranian business world.

The Iranian Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Association, which has been trying to promote understanding of CSR in the country, has proposed placing CSR issues in the 2013 budget bill to Iranian Parliament, the head of the Iranian CSR Association, Ali Reza Omidvar, told the Hürriyet Daily News Dec. 21.

The Iranian CSR Association and Iranian mining company Sayahan Sepehrasia, which has established its own charitable foundations as well, attended the international CSR Marketplace Fair organized by the CSR Association of Turkey at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

“CSR is not very popular in Iran, it is mostly perceived as charitable activity. We are trying to bring the modern concept of CSR, such as employee volunteering, sponsorship policies and philanthropy policies, to Iran,” Omidvar said.

Close cooperation

Established five years ago, CSR Iran has worked closely with stakeholders and key players in the business community, such as the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, universities and government institutions.

Omidvar said they established a three-unit course for MBA students at Sharif and Tehran universities in 2009 and held three workshops with Iranian business journalists and two workshops with the general directors of all the ministries in Iran in order to provide them with information about CSR.

“The impact of these workshops with the general directors was very good for us. First of all, we became more legitimate and second of all, these directors supported our proposal to Parliament to convince the government to give CSR a place in next year’s budget,” Omidvar added. Omidvar also said CSR Iran has been working very closely with CSR Turkey in order to bring some regional and international practices to the Iranian business environment. “We held the same marketplace in Iran last year with the participation of 15 Turkish businessmen,” he added.

Companies from six countries in the region including Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria attended the marketplace, exhibiting the CSR activities that they carry out in their own countries.

The founder and president of the CSR Association of Turkey, Serdar Dinler, said they have been working to promote an understanding of CSR not only in Turkey but in the whole region. “We wrote a comparative report about the situation of CSR both in Turkey and Iran in 2010. And we continuously transfer ‘know-how’ to Iran. Since we are a member of CSR Europe, we also send the information that we get from CSR Europe to Iran and other countries in the region,” Dinler said.

“If you ask me what we promote, we promote transparency, accountability, gender equality, fair trade, not using child labor and environmental protection in the countries in the region,” Dinler added.