Along with its reputation, human capital is one of the most valuable intangible assets a company has. Successful businesses recognize this and invest in developing their workforce.
EEG conducted its second CSR workshop for 2009 entitled "Human Capital and Sustainability", focusing on the meaning and value of human capital and human capital development in today's context. The workshop defined 'human capital' as viewed from the scope of corporate social responsibility and how modern economics weigh its value. The conference was held amid an international economic crisis, where many companies undertake massive jobs cuts. The event also discussed the irony why labor becomes a soft target in an economic recession.
The workshop served as a gathering of local and international experts who gave light to the principles of human capital development and discussed related topics such as labor, human resource and human rights. The list of resource speakers included HE. Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, former Deputy Minister of Labor of the UAE, Dr. Werner Krieger, formerly Strategic Operations Manager of Henkel and Mark Hodge, Director of the Global Business Initiative for Human Rights.
The case study presentations of Mr. Albert Wong of Shell ME and Ms. Kaltham Al Koheji of HSBC added a practical dimension to the workshop by showing how policies and concrete programs on developing labor and human capital are contributing to company sustainability.
Mrs. Habiba Al Marashi in her opening speech said, "Employees are a key stakeholder group often forgotten in the CSR debate when the company's focus is on external engagement. In the workplace, corporate social responsibility should guide a company to build human capital to contribute to its increased profitability, reputability, and overall sustainability."
HE DR. Al Khazraji, the guest of honor of the event, provided an overview of the development of labor and human capital in the UAE underlining the numerous challenges that the country is facing to ensure rights are protected and the potential of people are developed and utilized to the fullest.
Dr. Krieger, the main speaker for the event, said human capita goes beyond traditional Human Resource perceptions which see people as an available organizational resource. Human capital is about leveraging value from people and recognizing people as investors of their personal human capital. He said this provides the main source of value for an organization.
Mark Hodge, mentioned in his speech that perhaps more fundamentally the "human capital" available to the world is clearly diminished if large portions of the 6 billion people living on the planet have their underlying humanity threatened on a daily basis.
In a more positive frame the "human capital" available to a society will be massively increased if its members lead lives that are safe, healthy, secure, full of dignity and where we are all provided what is needed to be all we can be.
A film depicting the lives of child laborers in Asia added a different but related dimension to the workshop as the vicious cycle of poverty is depicted as one of the reasons for the failure of human capital to develop.
At the end of the workshop there was a consensus that human capital development contribute to business excellence and sustainability and further investments in human capital will have realizable outcome for the company. Human capital is an economic variable that is valuable in the labor market and is basically intertwined with human rights. The development of human capital should be pursued both inside and outside the company.