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TDIC Recognised in Pearl Initiative’s Series on Corporate Good Practices Report

Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), a master developer of major tourism destinations in Abu Dhabi, has been recognised in a report published by Pearl Initiative, the not-for-profit organisation developed in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships that seeks to create a corporate culture of accountability and transparency in the Arab world.

The report, titled Pearl Initiative Series on Corporate Good Practices, focuses on the implementation of integrity-related policies and integrated reporting as well as provides practical lessons from companies based in the Gulf Cooperation Council region that are ahead of the curve in implementing good practices.

The report includes eight case studies that were initially researched and compiled by a five-member team of MBA students from Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge in the UK and American University of Sharjah (AUS). The TDIC case study, included in the section on integrity-related policies, illustrates efforts and lessons learned in contractor employee practices policy development and their implementation across the value chain.

TDIC created in 2009 its Employment Practices Policy – which is primarily based on and complements the UAE Labour Law – to ensure that best practices are fully implemented pertaining to the wellbeing, benefits and interests of its workers. The policy’s aim is to set fair employment relations practices between TDIC and its contractors and subcontractors, while emphasising the protection of employees working on Saadiyat and their provision of good standards of living.

Sultan Al Mahmoud, TDIC’s Executive Director of Strategic Performance, stated: “We are proud that our achievements in integrity-related policies are being recognised by highly credible organisations, such as Pearl Initiative. While we are committed to developing world-class cultural and tourism assets in light of Abu Dhabi’s long-term economic progress, we are just as equally dedicated to those involved in helping us build that promising journey. We strongly emphasise the well-being of employees working on Saadiyat Island through established policies that set fair employment relations practices between TDIC and its contractors and subcontractors,” explained Al Mahmoud.

Imelda Dunlop, Pearl Initiative’s Executive Director commented: “Based on the conceptual framework developed by the student research team, TDIC featured as a case study in the section pertaining to integrity-related policies. The examples included in the report illustrate efforts made by a selection of companies that appear to be working and are therefore worth sharing with the wider business community.”

The Pearl Initiative report highlights the importance of having companies develop their own integrity policies which in some cases includes a code of conduct or code of ethics. “Developing and writing the policy is a valuable and necessary first step in the process. The real challenge, however, is in implementing and embedding such a code or policy into the day-to-day reality of people throughout the organisation and value chain,” the report states.

One of numerous achievements TDIC has realised in ensuring its construction workers dedicated to developing the world-class projects on Saadiyat Island are treated to high ethical standards is the introduction of Saadiyat Construction Village – a high-quality, modern construction community project built to international standards. With the capacity to accommodate up to 20,000 people, this housing project boasts a broad range of social, recreational and educational facilities – such as multilingual libraries, computer and Internet access, satellite TV rooms, gymnasiums, and floodlit sporting area with four cricket pitches, basketball court and tennis court – the village has become an exemplifying model in the region.

The report’s conceptual framework uses various criteria in assessing integrity-related case studies of organisations in the region. To meet the requirements of “beyond compliance”, a company must develop a policy based on ethical principles, which are embedded throughout the organisational structure. This element encompasses leadership commitment, innovative training, communications and reinforcement.

Another element in the Pearl Initiative report is the identification and reporting of issues, including the use of help desks, hotlines, reporting links and whistle-blowing mechanisms. TDIC, for instance, has made available a contact centre consisting of a direct access line to all employees who wish to raise grievances, report concerns or non-compliance of ethical policies, anonymously and without fear of victimisation.

“The case studies included in this Pearl Initiative Report are just the first step in building up a comprehensive knowledge base of good practices in operation within the region. It is vital that we continue to analyse and share good practices within GCC companies, in order to encourage the wider business community to also adopt them,” said Dunlop.

TDIC, which created its Employment Practices Policy (EPP) prescribing the fair treatment of its employees in a safe, healthy and friendly working environment, committed internal resources to dutifully enforce and monitor the implementation of its policy. Moreover, TDIC appointed in June 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the world’s largest professional services firm, as an independent auditor to monitor its contractors’ and subcontractors’ performance in the area of worker welfare on Saadiyat Island – all in compliance with the EPP. In September 2012, the first independent monitoring report compiled by PwC was released highlighting details of positive findings on TDIC’s worker welfare practices on Saadiyat.

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