Business in the Community Ireland is the country’s network for responsible business. The collective goal of our network is to make Ireland a centre of excellence for responsible and sustainable business practice. So why is being sustainable and responsible so important currently?
[Pictured above: Paul Rellis MD of Microsoft, Padraig McManus Former CEO of ESB, Jim Mintern Country Manager CRH and Brenda Cannon, Corporate Affairs Director Intel at the Business in the Community CEO Forum 2011 where they were named the first four companies to be awarded the Business Working Responsibly Mark.]
Trust in business has been severely damaged and reputation needs to be restored. In addition, in the age of social media, customers expect and indeed demand more transparency. The effects of climate change are impacting all areas of commerce from cost of materials to insurance fees and carbon emission targets. In addition to this, how do you keep employees engaged and committed or as some industries are fighting for talent, how can you make your company stand out? Increasingly, investment houses and public tenders are demanding more evidence of good corporate practice. Finally, companies operate in communities so how do you build local trust?
All of these areas are the emerging challenges being faced by businesses but they also bring a wealth of opportunities. Our recent Responsible Business Survey of 100 of Ireland’s top CEOs shows that doing business responsibly in Ireland is no longer merely about financial performance and statutory compliance, important as these remain.
Rather there is a new understanding of what a responsible business does, and how it should be managed. That understanding recognises a wider mandate for business, and a wider set of responsibilities to go with it.
“The recession has brought about a national mind shift, a quickness among the public to question intent and integrity when it comes to business practice… doing the right thing must become a core business value.”
We know CEOs in Ireland are really thinking about responsible and sustainable business. Just look at some more of the findings from our survey:
- 71% of CEOs say Ireland should aim to become a global centre of excellence for responsible business practice
- 77% of CEOs think there should be a measurable standard for corporate responsibility best practice in Ireland
- 92% of CEOs think there will be an increasing demand for sustainable products and services in the future
- 86% of CEO’s believe that corporate responsibility has a role to play in rebuilding Ireland’s reputation
In today’s economy, the only way to survive and thrive is to put sustainability at the heart of your business. In order to do this, you must get a sense of how you are doing and where opportunities and risks are. Our Business Working Responsibly Mark, audited by the NSAI (National Standard Authority Ireland), is Ireland’s only certification for responsible and sustainable business practices.
The Mark is achieved in two stages. First, the company takes an inventory of responsible and sustainable practices across company operations in a self-assessment questionnaire. Secondly, the National Standards Authority of Ireland conducts a verification audit of the questionnaire responses.
The questionnaire touches on everything from greenhouse gas emissions to diversity and equality issues. We launched the Mark last year and to date four companies have received it. They are Microsoft Ireland, CRH Ireland, ESB and Intel Ireland. Our vision is to get many more companies on the journey and the Mark can provide an essential roadmap. More and more companies in this country are realising that sustainability makes for serious business.