With many clean-up campaigns making headlines in the region, we speak to Business Ethics and CSR specialist Marc Ruiviejo Cirera, who is also the Founder and CEO of Companies for Good to understand how these campaigns are organised while also creating awareness...
Cirera founded Companies for Good as he believes that good business practices help companies perform better. According to him, businesses have the potential to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. And he wanted to help make this a reality! A born entrepreneur, Cirera was introduced into the business world at a very early age by his grandfather, a self-made businessman. At 19, Cirera set up his first business in the hospitality segment while studying Economy & Business Administration in Barcelona. He ran the business for four years, then sold it and used the profits to pursue his Master’s in Business Ethics in Sydney.
After graduation, Marc moved to London where he worked at a communications consultancy, Radley Yeldar, as an Employee Engagement & Sustainability Consultant for five years. He helped multinational companies such as Rolls-Royce, ABB, Nivea and Cargill, become stronger by putting ethics, values and CSR at the heart of their organizations. Cirera landed in Dubai in 2015 and worked as a Sustainability Specialist at Chalhoub Group until October 2018. He had by then launched Companies for Good in May 2017 and has been fully dedicated to the social impact start-up since November 2018. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with him…
Tell us about your company. When did you start and how has the journey been?
We exist to make the world better, and we believe companies have a key role to play. Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, Sustainability, whatever you call it, ‘good’ is essential for companies. Consumers, employees, governments all want it. We exist to help businesses meet these demands for good - boost their reputation while they make a positive social impact. A world where companies operate in a responsible and sustainable way, care about the environment and support those in need is not something ‘great’, but the standard way of doing business.
What kind of activities you organise?
We organise team activities that have a positive social impact. We partner with local charities, social enterprise and experts. And, we give companies the chance to give back in a fun, hassle-free way. The activities include tree planting, making toys for refugees, beach clean-ups, women empowerment sessions, etc. We’ve already worked with some of the world’s greatest brands, including: Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Unilever, Mundipharma, Standard Chartered, AIG, Philips, Bain & Company, DHL, Henkel, Emirates NBD and many more. It has been a truly exciting journey! Companies for Good has grown from one to six members team in less than two years, consolidating the UAE market operations and expanding to Spain in January 2019. Cleaning has been an integral part of most of the projects you undertake.
Can you tell us about the cleaning initiatives taken by your clients, how did your company help them achieve their goals, and what were the challenges?
We help businesses do good for the planet through team activities. Our most popular activities involve cleaning up natural areas to keep our land and our oceans free of plastic and other trash – saving animals and avoiding environmental pollution.In addition to the beach clean-up, we do the Wadi clean-up, an underwater scuba adventure to clear ocean plastic and a Kayak expedition to clear plastic trash from the mangroves. After a traditional breakfast and welcome speech, we provide gloves and rubbish bags and help the team to clear the incredible beach of any waste the ocean has brought onto the sand. We also conduct a sustainability quiz game after a group picture and team lunch. At Companies for Good, since we began these activities in September 2017, we have taken 1,500 plus employees to clean-up beaches, mangrove reserves and wadis, engaged 30 companies in these environmental initiatives and collected 10,000 plus kg of plastic waste from the UAE natural environment. Our goal is to remove 20,000 kg of plastic waste by 2020, and all plastic waste from the UAE natural habitats by 2025.
How has the response been so far?
It’s been very positive. We have always come across companies who love to involve their people in team activities that have a positive impact, for employees’ wellbeing and team bonding, for business’ reputation and for the environment.
Tell us about your achievements so far.
We have helped 100 plus companies do ‘good’ for the planet and the communities, involved 5,000 plus employees in giving back activities, positively impacted 7,500 plus refugees and children, have planted 800 plus trees and have collected 10,000 plus kg of waste from the beaches.
Being a resident of Dubai and having travelled the world, what is your opinion of the cleanliness of this city?
I can state that things are as clean here as anywhere in the world. Streets, bathrooms, lobbies, restaurants, hotels… you name it, the amount of effort the staff put into keeping things nice and clean is enormous. On this note, we want to see the natural spaces equally clean. We do not want visitors to leave their pristine hotel to go to a dirty beach or to escape from the spotless city to find a desert full of plastic. That’s our aim through Companies for Good