This joining was to set up a course for long term sustainability. The CEO Forum 2012, a working dinner organised by Community Business, was held on Friday 25 May 2012 at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Site, Crown Wine Cellars, Hong Kong.
Thirty CEOs and senior leaders from large and medium enterprises attended a working dinner where they discussed the topic of “Redefining Growth for Long Term Sustainability”. The event, sponsored by Crown Worldwide Group, was an opportunity for senior leaders of Hong Kong’s leading companies to gain insight on how some of the world’s top business leaders are reframing their business strategies in response to the most complex challenges faced by the world today.
Key-note speaker, Clare Melford, CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), set the context for the discussion by sharing IBLF’s three approaches to growth – Smart Growth, Inclusive Growth and Responsible Growth.
What is Smart Growth, Inclusive Growth, Responsible Growth?
Smart Growth – refers to how businesses can do more with less by optimising resource use, helping to create an ‘enabling environment’ through regulations and using resources efficiently, whilst investing in technical innovation.
Inclusive Growth – refers to how those at the bottom of the pyramid – the 2.5 billion people who live on less than US$2.50 per day – can access more of the world’s wealth.
Responsible Growth – refers to how those at the top of the consumption pyramid can consume differently or less to support long-term sustainable consumption.
Why should businesses care?
This is a common question faced by the leaders responsible for growing businesses in today’s changing landscape. Businesses exist to make profit, and should evolve to meet the demand of the customers – why should they adopt this model?
By 2025 the population will have reached 8 billion people, of which close to 75% will live in urban centers. China’s GDP will have long since surpassed that of the USA, demand for water will be double its supply, and the inequality in our societies will increase. Business will find growth ever harder to achieve.
Leaders that can redefine their companies to create value through Smart, Inclusive and Responsible growth will be able to rebuild trust, regain the license to operate and help build the societies in which their businesses can flourish. This is a redefinition of business that will transform the market and our communities.
Through lively discussions at the dinner, our business leaders acknowledged the need for thinking about growth and sustainability together. However, there were some challenges raised to shifting business mindsets. Some of these were:
- Regulation: Over and under regulation and the challenges of building and maintaining a level playing field
- Lack of qualified candidates and retention issues: A challenge faced by companies across different sectors, this will be one of the top priorities for senior management in developing and developed countries.
- Managing supply chains: Many companies are struggling to translate robust sustainable supply chain policies into effective and consistent practice across their wide range of suppliers. The situation is even more critical in Asia where companies outsource a large part of their production.
- Younger generation with a new set of demands: Understanding the goals and challenges expressed by the next generation of young business leaders is critical for a company’s future growth and sustainability.
Whilst challenges remain, optimism exists as well. With growing demands for responsible business practices and an increasing number of examples of successful inclusive business models, companies are willing to participate in discussions around growth models that are socially and environmentally sustainable. Business leaders are beginning to understand that in today’s volatile economy, growth and sustainability are mutually dependent.
About International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF)
The International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) is an independent, not-for-profit members organisation of multinational companies focusing on the responsible business agenda. Based in the UK, the organization inspires business leaders consider sustainable development. Featuring a Leaders Council of 40 of the world’s leading CEOs, and programmes in countries all over the world including Russia, India and China, IBLF addresses the challenge companies face in maintaining growth while effectively and responsibly managing the limited human, financial and natural resources at their disposal.
For more information about their work in Asia, please contact Julia Przetakiewicz at Julia.Przetakiewicz@iblf.org