Logo of the Pearl Initiative
|Motto||Creating a Corporate Culture of Accountability and Transparency in the Gulf Region of the Middle East|
|Formation||September 24, 2010; 7 years ago (2010-09-24)|
|Purpose||Non-profit Private Sector led initiative|
The Pearl Initiative is a Gulf business–led organisation promoting a corporate culture of accountability and transparency as a driver of competitiveness and sustainable economic growth across the Persian Gulf region of the Middle East. The organisation was developed in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and was launched in September 2010 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In 2013, the Pearl Initiative signed a strategic partnership with the United Nations Global Compact to collaborate on a number of programmes in countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
The Pearl Initiative aims to influence the regional business and student community positively towards implementing higher standards in corporate accountability, transparency, and governance within the Middle East. As a result, the organisation develops programmes and publishes regional research reports and case studies that helps encourage greater insight and appreciation of business cases, issues and associated trends. The Pearl Initiative also aims to bring together business, government and civil-society decision makers to discuss best business practices and maximize the economic opportunities available to companies within the region. To encourage Gulf-based university students to identify and embrace ethics as in their future careers, the Pearl Initiative has closely engaged with universities across the Persian Gulf region of the Middle East.
As a non-profit, private sector led initiative, the Pearl Initiative is supported by annual contributions from its partner companies that are based across the Persian Gulf region.
The official Pearl Initiative agenda includes:
- Initiating collective action and dialogue forums; acting as the catalyst between regional and global business leaders, international institutions, government bodies, wider initiatives, and cross-sector partnerships.
- Knowledge creation; by fostering greater insight and appreciation of the business case, issues and trends associated with transparency and accountability through the generation of new data, research and analysis across the region.
- Building a collaborative educational environment; within the many institutions to help assert a foundation for future leaders, to make a difference in creating a culture of transparency and accountability.
Annually, dialogue forums and interactive roundtables are sponsored by the Pearl Initiative, to enable contact among global and regional corporate business leaders, local government bodies and wider initiatives. Meetings are held in major cities across the Persian Gulf region. In 2015, the Pearl Initiative and United Nations Global Compact held their inaugural Regional Forum in Dubai under the theme Corporate Accountability Matters.
The Pearl Initiative holds Case Study Competitions for university students to research, write and submit case studies of Corporate Good Practices in accountability and transparency that are implemented and working within the Region. The published reports contain information that can benefit the business community and can be used as teaching material by regional universities.
The first report in the Corporate Good Practices Series Accountability and Transparency was published in 2012. The report includes eight case studies written by MBA students from Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge in the UK and the American University of Sharjah. In 2013, Pearl Initiative – in collaboration with the King Khalid Foundation – launched a competition for Saudi university students and published a Report including the top case studies on best practices applied in Saudi companies.
In 2014, the Pearl Initiative ran the Case Study Competition for university students in the UAE. The published report includes the top five case studies submitted for the competition.
The Pearl Initiative operates programmes and publishes regional insights and research-based reports in the following topics:
Corporate Governance 360
The Pearl Initiative develops several programmes that aim to enhance corporate governance practices across the private sector in the Gulf Region of the Middle East. In January 2013, in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Pearl Initiative published a report titled Family Matters: Governance in GCC Family Firms, based on the results of interviews with 106 family firms in the Persian Gulf region.
In June 2014, a research report Good Governance in Family Firms was published by the Pearl Initiative to study the governance frameworks of five of the Persian Gulf region's prominent family firms – WJ Towell Group, SABIS, Alissa Group, Al Zamil Group and Majid Al Futtaim Group, by providing in-depth analysis for similar firms to draw upon.
The Pearl Initiative is launching a programme to help enhance the competitiveness of the SME Sector in the Persian Gulf region through raising the standards of corporate governance and accountability.
Anti-Corruption Best Practices
The organisation currently runs a three-year collective action programme on Implementing Integrity Practices in GCC Private and Public Businesses in collaboration with the Siemens Integrity Initiative to raise awareness and encourage the adoption of integrity practices in businesses across the Gulf Region of the Middle East.
Following the launch of the programme, the Pearl Initiative published its report At a Glance: Anti-Corruption Good Practice in December 2015. The report offers a practical guide for regional companies to incorporate anti-corruption measures into their operations, and demonstrates that tackling corruption can boost job creation and profits and promote international expansion of companies across the region.
Diversity in Business Leadership
The Pearl Initiative's Diversity in Business Leadership programme incorporates business cases for greater gender diversity at senior levels, as well as delivering insight on the practical ways that companies can incorporate more women in senior management and board positions.
In 2015, the organisation published its research report Women's Careers in the GCC – The CEO Agenda. The Report examines the position of women on the corporate ladder across the Persian Gulf region, and seeks to determine what can be done to attract, retain and promote female employees through to senior roles, in order to achieve better gender diversity at executive levels and on boards.
Corporate Reporting Best Practices
The Pearl Initiative signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Prince of Wales's Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) in 2015 in order to promote Integrated Thinking and Reporting in the private sector across the Gulf Region of the Middle East.
A Gulf Region "circle of practice" of finance leaders will be established to drive further progress and levels of implementation. The focus continues to educate, raise awareness and spread the business case for Integrated Thinking and Reporting.
Riyadh - MENA Herald: A three-student team from Prince Sultan University in Riyadh won the Pearl Initiative 2016 Case Study Competition on corporate governance. Part of a collaborative long-term integrity programme between the Pearl Initiative and Siemens, the contest drew the participation of 51 student teams from 11 universities across the GCC region.
The competition annually challenges business students to prepare a short case study on integrity practices – including anti-corruption, ethical supply chain and anti-money laundering – in a GCC company of their choice. The exercise aims to foster student-business engagement, facilitate hands-on experience and highlight the importance of integrity to competitiveness in business.
An award ceremony at Prince Sultan University recognised Wed Hadhrawi, Leah Villarhemosa and Waad Al-Akeel, pursuing their bachelor’s degree at Prince Sultan University, for their excellent case study focused on ethical labour practices in ANB Invest Company, a fully-owned subsidiary of Riyadh-based Arab National Bank. The company offers custody, advising, arranging, underwriting and brokerage services. It also manages investment funds and discretionary portfolios.
Following the successful conclusion of the 2016 edition, the Pearl Initiative and Siemens announced that submissions for the 2017 Case Study Competition are now open. The companies invite all business students based in the GCC region to apply, demonstrate their creativity and business aptitude, and learn about the important aspect of corporate governance.
Speaking at the ceremony, Carla Koffel, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative, said: “Exploring real-life case studies and conducting in-depth analyses of strategies that businesses in the GCC region are implementing provides students with much-needed practical experience to help them build their skillsets and hone critical thinking abilities. With the regional governments aspiring to develop knowledge-based economies that fuel innovation and resilience in business, the contest is an integral part of the Pearl Initiative and Siemens’s integrity programme that has reached 6,500 students across the GCC region since 2013.”
She added: “With more than three-quarters of the contenders – 101 out of 129 – being women, this is a strong indicator that our competition motivates all students equally to tap into their potential. I take this opportunity to congratulate not only our winners but all participants for their hard work, creative approach and insightful projects that highlight the best practices being adopted by the private sector in corporate governance and integrity across the region.”
Shadi Al Daoud, General Counsel, Head of Legal and Compliance at Siemens in Saudi Arabia, said: “The Siemens Integrity Initiative backs projects that encourage clean business and healthy competition, helping build the right environment for sustainable economic growth. With The Pearl Initiative, we look forward to yet another successful year where students learn about best practices in the private sector. In future, we hope they will take these examples and apply them in their professional lives, bringing a positive impact on the business environment in their country.”
Dr. Rimah Al-Yahya, the Vice-Rector, Prince Sultan University said: “At Prince Sultan University, we are dedicated to teaching our business students how to innovative and build resilient organisations in an evolving and digitizing economy. Corporate governance, integrity and accountability are some of the tools with which we can bring about the desired change – not only to workplace culture but its essence.”
She added: “We are grateful to The Pearl Initiative and Siemens for bringing this issue to the forefront – especially among the region’s ambitious youth – in such an engaging and practical way. I would also like to thank Dr. Ahmad Al-Yamani, Rector, PSU, the university’s higher management, faculty mentors and all the bright participants for their hard work. I also wholeheartedly encourage all eligible students to participate in the upcoming 2017 contest.”
Students Alanoud Aleisa, Dina Shibat Alhamd, Sarah Alshuwayrikh, also from Prince Sultan University, won second place for their comprehensive case study on avoiding conflict of interest and anti-money laundering compliance used by Banque Saudi Fransi. The third place was awarded to Salek Muyeen Akbar from Ahlia University, who submitted a study on the anti-money laundering measures implemented by Bahrain Financing company.
With the number of contestants increasing year on year, the 2016 Case Study Competition saw teams from Prince Sultan University in Saudi Arabia, Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) Dubai and Zayed University in the UAE, and Ahlia University in Bahrain make it to the finals. The top 10 entries examined integrity and accountability practices across private and public sector organisations such as Arab National Investment Company, Bahrain Financing Company Banque Saudi Fransi, Etisalat, KPMG, Thales Security Solutions and Services, and UAE Exchange.