I have only visited Dubai once and don't recall where I stayed (I remember having a great time, though). But an imperative for a return visit would be a stay in one of the 3,065 luxury suites in one of the 11 hotels and complexes of the Jumeirah Group, 7 of which are in Dubai. Not only does Jumeirah's business offering appear impressive, the Group's well structured and reported approach to CR is very positive. The report opens with a list of focus areas, achievements and '09 commitments which cover all areas of direct impact. It's a good summary of what to expect from the Group as they move forward. There are some fine points to highlight in this report:
Detailed table of stakeholder aspirations and engagement routes well-structured overview
Review of economic impacts of Jumeirah's operations a limited first view of how Jumeirah contributes to poverty reduction, community empowerment and building the national tourism offering. I am sure Jumeirah will have much more to say in this area in the future.
Engaging guests in environmental issues Jumeirah includes environmental questions in Customer Satisfaction Surveys. This is an area of indirect impact I can't recall ever having stayed in a hotel and been asked about how I think they should be environmentally responsible the closest I have experienced is being asked to re-use my towels and turn of the a/c before I leave the room!
The VOICES program I LOVED this VOICES stands for Very Original Ideas Can Enhance Success. Jumeirah gives an example of how one Keen to be Green suggestion generated savings of $67,000. What a super way of engaging employees.
The Carbon Offset scheme through the Jumeirah Customer Loyalty program, Sirius, guests are offered an exchange of Sirius Points for the purchase of fuel efficient solar stoves for communities in Africa. This is a best-practice way of generating greater awareness amongst Jumeirah's patronage for enviro-social issues, and enabling them to book their stay in the knowledge they are making a contribution to the world. Neat.
Colleague Consultative Committees designed to encourage employee involvement, these are groups of employees who are formally elected by peers to represent employees in joint consultations with management across the Group's operations in Dubai. Excellent initiative which I am sure supports the upholding of employee rights and enhances engagement.
An interesting and unique area of materiality in this region and for Jumeirah is the question of "Emiratisation", the objective of which is to increase the number of UAE nationals locally employed. The group employs 162 nationals (out of over 10,500 in Dubai), the remainder being Indians, Philippines, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, Chinese and others, 83% of whom continuously support their families living in their countries of origin. This is a significant indirect economic impact. Maintaining a predominantly immigrant and highly-diverse workforce is quite some challenge, and includes providing employees (called "colleagues" throughout the report) with a flight ticket home at least every two years and arranging family visit visas to the UAE for families of employees (2,071 visas in 2008!) To redress this balance, Jumeirah was a founding member of a UAE government task force to promote Emiratisation and is active in developing frameworks to advance this objective. This is a fascinating aspect of corporate responsibility impacts which I look forward to reading more about in future reports.
Jumeirah is a group set on expansion, with targets for 60 hotels opened or in development by 2012 that's a rate of over 15 hotels in progress per year, in different parts of the world. Clearly the credit crunch does not appear to be affecting this Group significantly, though the Chairman's statement does refer to delayed openings of new resorts and some restructuring. This is another material issue for the tourism industry. Jumeirah could deal with this in a little more depth.
At self-declared GRI C application level, this report follows the G3 framework to the letter in clean, crisp, clear and well-flowing language. The report design is professional and includes just enough breathtaking photographs to give you the sense of pleasure and luxury that is this reporting company's core business. And it's short enough to be readable in one reasonable session, without leaving you with the sense that there are material omissions, something that I rarely find with other reports.
Their first report is a delight and augurs well for the promised future annual reports from this Group. A first time reporter in a region where reporting is just starting to emerge, Jumeirah is showing leadership. Jumeirah declines to disclose first calculations of GHG emissions, stating, "We have chosen not to disclose our GHG emissions figures until such a measurement has been achieved. This is a target for 2009" referring to a consistent measurement approach. This is a positive disclosure and demonstrates a credible and responsible attitude to action and to reporting. Another credibility driver of this report is the references by name to several individuals in the Jumeirah group who have a role to play in advancing the CR program. When your name is in black and white in a public report, your cannot fail to be committed as, after all, the Corporate Responsibility of corporations is really about the Corporate Responsibility of individual people within corporations. A respectable, credible, well-structured first report and an example for the Region.
1. Develop a materiality matrix showing prioritization of issues, and give more depth to these in future reports
2. Continue to build transparency and report more quantitatively on a wider range of subjects
3. Maintain the pace of activity and ensure commitments made in this report are delivered
4. Deliver on the promise to assure the report next time around
Elaine Cohen is the Joint CEO of BeyondBusiness Ltd, www.b-yond.biz, a leading CSR reporting and consulting firm in Israel, specializing in a wide range of consulting services for the development of social and environmental responsibility of businesses. Elaine Cohen is an independent reviewer and has no relationship with the reporting company.