Future Proofing your Business

14th November 2023

Posted In: FYI

Earlier this month, Business in the Community Ireland held its annual CEO Forum which brought together over 100 CEOs from multiple sectors to share insights, experiences and ambitions on how to advance the ESG and sustainability agenda that is so critical for protecting the planet and business development.

Against a backdrop of war, millions displaced due to climate and nature degradation, a polarised society where certain groups remain excluded, a changed workplace due to the pandemic and the short-term nature of political leadership – what does this mean for businesses?

Tomas Sercovich, CEO Business in the Community Ireland said “the biggest challenge is to push forward through these turbulent times to ensure businesses are future proofed. Business leaders must be brave as well as responsible.

CEO’s must consider the viability of their business model, ensure the company’s behaviour is consistent with its values, be transparent in what is measured and reported and question how the business creates and destroys societal value.

Also knowing that they don’t always have the answer is important but can they unite to find solutions to common problems. Providing that space to discuss the hard-to-tackle problems is core to what Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) offers its members.”

The keynote address was from Ruth Kent of Generation Investment Managers (pictured) and focused on transforming finance and the long-term benefit of redirecting finance and investor capital into more sustainable activities that has proven to yield significant return on investment. Such thoughts were dismissed 20 years ago but now it is more mainstream and is what investors and shareholders expect to maintain the profitability of the business.

Prioritising the decarbonisation of business operations is a common challenge but there was also recognition to engage comprehensively with supply chains given the urgency to tackle particularly scope 3 emissions to achieve a net zero economy.

BITCI’s Business Working Responsibly Mark – the independently audited management system for ESG and sustainability standard – has helped raise the bar for responsible and sustainable business for over a decade. Those companies who have attained the Mark admit having such credentials helps win tenders and attract talent. In 2023, A&L Goodbody, Bank of Ireland and eir were recertified with the Mark while Coillte, Bus Eireann and daa attained it for the first time.

The CEO Forum also put a spotlight on the importance of collaborating with local DEIS schools to help break cycles of educational disadvantage and the value of engaging in progressive inclusive initiatives including BITCI’s EPIC Employment Programme to advance a company’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda.