Planet-forward I People-centric I Change-making: Here’s how GMG is making a difference

September 13, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Razan Akrouk, Vice President – Brand, Culture & Sustainability, GMG

Starting with a quick look at how UAE-based diversified family business GMG is making a difference by being caring for its people and the planet, by owning change, supporting local and operating responsibly.  

Support local:

  • In 2022, GMG forged strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as Emirates Crop One’s Bustanica and Silal.
    • Bustanica is the world’s largest hydroponic farm that uses 95% less water than conventional farms. It is driven by powerful technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Bustanica supplies a range of leafy greens to all Géant hypermarkets and supermarkets across the UAE.
    • Silal allows GMG to support up to 1,100 UAE farms in accessing the local retail market through Géant.
  • GMG has more plans in the pipeline to form partnerships with the public sector to enhance its local procurement strategy and food safety programme.

Operate responsibly:

  • GMG employees came together in May to plant over 1,000 Ghaf trees at its solar-powered Trilogi Mega Distribution Centre in JAFZA.
  • Last year, GMG partnered with the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) to install a water station in Al Qudra as part of the ‘Dubai Can’ initiative. The partnership was part of GMG’s commitment to support national sustainable development, catering to the wellbeing of communities across the UAE.
  • GMG has plans to launch its corporate social responsibility strategy, which will support environmental and social initiatives as well as look after the wellbeing of its employees.

In August 2022 GMG defined its sustainable strategy framework called ‘Make a Difference’. The strategy aligns with key global and local sustainability trends and showcases the Group’s commitment to creating positive and transformative change across the region and beyond through three strategic pillars – ‘Planet Forward’, ‘Inspire People’ and ‘Own Change.’

Offering a deeper look into GMG’s sustainability agenda, Razan Akrouk, Vice President – Brand, Culture & Sustainability shared, “We are defining our carbon footprint scope and boundaries and will have our first carbon footprint calculation in the coming quarters. In addition, we have redefined our code of conduct and our ethics commitments with policies and procedures. We are preparing to get the most prestigious certifications in terms of procedures and safety for the next year.”

DE&I is a priority

Diversity and inclusion rank quite high on GMG’s ESG commitment. In this context, Akrouk said, “At GMG, we honour and respect the diversity in our workforce, which is home to nearly 78 nationalities. We recently published our Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DE&I) policy following the code of conduct. We also have a DE&I committee that helps us define and decide actions and implement the vision for GMG.”

Last year, GMG implemented a policy to allow employees two days off for religious festivities. In addition, to cater to its gender-diversified workforce, GMG follows a 90-day maternity leave policy.

“Understanding and implementing policies that foster a genuinely diverse and inclusive workplace is not just a trend, but a crucial aspect for businesses globally. It is essential for employers to recognise the value of nurturing talents from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. This approach brings forth a multitude of perspectives, fostering innovation, employee satisfaction and ultimately improving business performance. If we genuinely believe that ESG is about business longevity, we’ll do it with intent,” she highlighted.

“At GMG, we embrace this philosophy and prioritise the wellbeing of our employees, inculcating a sense of value and recognition. Our comprehensive policies provide guidance, promote consistency, establish accountability, enhance efficiency and offer clarity on our operational framework. As an organisation, we understand the added responsibility of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that ties back to our values,” she added.

Since GMG has many global brands as part of its portfolio alongside homegrown labels, how does the company ensure partnering with entities that follow fair and inclusive business practices?

“We have a clear mandate to maintain the highest standards of integrity and ethics across all our brands whether it is global or homegrown, and we ensure these principles are upheld even with our business partners. We have included a sustainability criterion in our suppliers’ screening, and this will continue to be a part of our KPIs for the upcoming years. Through our solid 45-year legacy we have forged long-term relationships with many prestigious brands as well as business partners and continue to support them if they encounter any challenges, especially on the CSR front,” Akrouk responded.

A “multi-layer” governance approach  

Asked how GMG is building a robust governance framework to operate sustainably, ethically and equitably, Akrouk said, “Our governance framework has a multi-layer approach with executive management, sustainability management and business unit heads working together closely to ensure that sustainability mandates are implemented across the various business units. This sustainability committee is where plans are discussed and approved. All the business units have the expertise and vision to enrich our sustainability journey and are ready to incorporate it into their daily lives.”

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