Boursa Kuwait's Corporate Sustainability strategy

By: Naser Al-Sanousi, Marketing & Communication Director, Boursa Kuwait Dec 2019

We set out to create a dynamic exchange that serves the needs of the Kuwaiti capital market, while gaining an international position as a leading exchange in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that operates according to world class standards.

With this effort comes a responsibility towards our community. In order to continue building on our rich Kuwaiti heritage, it is imperative that we are integrated into society and contribute to its development through the support of various key areas and issues.

We’re firm believers that sustainability can only be achieved by operating a profitable business without compromising the well-being of our society or the environment. We have taken our understanding of this fact and channelled our efforts through the development of a Corporate Sustainability (CS) strategy that focuses on supporting the three main areas - or pillars, as we refer to them - of Education, Community and the Environment. This strategy will allow us to invest our resources in an impactful manner and play a pivotal role in raising CS awareness across different stakeholder groups. To date, awareness has been raised through the provision of a clear understanding of what CS stands for across the business community, driven by the belief that the exchange can achieve sustained growth only by ensuring the well-being of both internal and external stakeholders.

In order to develop a capital market that is better equipped to handle such issues, the exchange published a disclosure guide for its listed companies to follow, with an initial set of 26 indicators that are in line with the State of Kuwait's sustainable development ambitions, as set out by the Kuwait Vision 2035 and the National Development Plan 'New Kuwait'. This guide is also aligned with the recommendations of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE), with which Boursa Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU formalised the deployment of a series of strategic initiatives aimed at further enhancing transparency and disclosure of sustainability/ESG information among listed companies, including those listed on Boursa Kuwait.

To support the three pillars and affirm our commitment to sustainable development, Boursa Kuwait embarked on a CS strategy in line with our business goals. Today, sustainability is viewed as a key element of any business plan, evolving to become a significant ingredient and investment focus for business health and growth, and the overall development of the economy.

To that end, the exchange signed a statement of support for ‘Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business’ to reinforce its commitment to gender equality, and held a ‘Ring the Bell’ ceremony at its premises as part of the global ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ initiative, which is a partnership between UN Women, UN Global Compact, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, the International Finance Corporation, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges. The event sought to bring the private sector’s attention to closing the gender inequality gap at workplaces.

We’ve also been very keen on the health and wellbeing of our employees and the surrounding community, reaffirming that initiative with several wellness sessions in collaboration with DISC Kuwait, a lifestyle, pain management and sports rehabilitation centre, and dental checkups, as well as a 'Health Day' for employees. The exchange has also partnered with the Kuwait Central Blood Bank on a blood drive, an initiative that it will also undertake in the future.

As part of the commitment to advancing financial literacy and advancing the Kuwaiti capital market, we’ve partnered with the Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA)-Kuwait Chapter and signed a slew of agreements with universities in Kuwait to advance capital market awareness among listed companies and students respectively.

Various memorandums of understanding have also been signed by Boursa Kuwait and volunteer organisations. The first is with the Environmental Voluntary Foundation (ENV), whose vision is to raise environmental awareness and instill the spirit of volunteerism locally and globally. This was followed by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS), whose mission is to provide assistance to the most vulnerable people affected by social conflicts, wars or natural disasters. We’ve also undertaken several initiatives with other non-governmental organisations, both in Kuwait and across the region.

Boursa Kuwait recognises that it can play a crucial role in encouraging and advancing Corporate Sustainability practices in capital markets, and effectively contribute to achieving the overall objectives of the Kuwait National Development Plan by creating an investment climate that is capable of attracting funds and encouraging sustainable corporate investments.