Thursday 9th November 2023, 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 CEO Forum provided such a space to learn from each other. Our keynote address from Ruth Kent from Generation Investment Managers 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 is proud that our Business Working Responsibly Mark, which is our independently audited management system for ESG and sustainability standard, has helped raise the bar for responsible and sustainable business for over a decade. Achieving the Mark certification and recertification is a major achievement. It takes an integrated approach and a commitment to continuous improvement. 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.
BITCI’s mission is not only to help its members achieve a low carbon economy but also to create a more inclusive workforce where everyone thrives. The CEO Forum 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 our EPIC Employment Programme to advance a company’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda.
Watch the highlights of the BITCI CEO Forum 2023 here.