We kick off our first In Conversation of 2018 with no less than our CEO Tomás Sercovich. In this feature Tomás provides great insights into the current state of sustainability and business in Ireland, they key areas businesses should be focusing on and why.
Delighted to welcome you as our new CEO. What are you most excited about when it comes to leading Business in the Community Ireland into its next stage of development?
Hi and thanks for inviting me to join this prestigious engagement platform on business and sustainability! I am really delighted to be back in Ireland and back in Business in the Community. It is the place where I started my career in sustainability and I am really excited about the next era of responsible business in Ireland.
What attracted me most to this organisation is the wide and impactful membership it has, with some of the most outstanding companies in our country working towards continuous improvement. Secondly, BITCI has built an amazing leadership on articulating the business case for responsible business through the development of the Business Working Responsibly Mark and the many companies that have certified against this standard and this really shows that CSR is certainly more than a management language; it has become the norm for successful business worldwide. I am keen on looking at how our impact can make a difference in our country, our people, our businesses and how we can build a stronger business community that is future ready for the challenges ahead.
How do you feel Ireland compares to other countries in the sustainability agenda?
Ireland has evolved in big strides towards sustainability in recent years. We have the right mix of national and international companies, those focused on export markets and those serving the internal market. We have built a great sense of good citizenship and a good evidence of this is the great numbers coming from the BITCI Business Impact Map. On the environmental side, there is a great sense of how we must prepare for the low carbon economy, although more action and leadership is needed here. Finally, when it comes to the great challenges for business and society, we must ensure that we partner and collaborate. This is still an area where we must improve our approaches and aim at strategic collaboration. On the international arena, Ireland is well recognised amongst those countries taking a key role forward in driving sustainability. We must remain at the top of these rankings and we must have more companies recognised for their sustainability.
Sustainability has many key challenges and issues, what are the ones personally important to you?
Based on the conversations I had this last month, my sense is that we have a major challenge ahead with the low carbon economy. We must think of our competitiveness and we need to ensure our industry, transport, ICT solutions and lifestyles are adapted to the low carbon economy.
Secondly I see that the war on talent has evolved to a major conversation on the model of country we want and the type of businesses we aspire to develop in Ireland. There are great opportunities for talent to prosper and we know that Millennials are keen on working with responsible companies. Is there enough evidence that Irish companies excel on this? We need to work harder to see how this develops.
Finally, transparency is a major challenge ahead. We need to see more Irish companies engaged in disclosure of their social and environmental impacts, aligned with international standards. I don’t see enough evidence of this yet and we are in year one of the implementation of the EU Directive on Disclosure of Non-financial information. This will be a critical year for the transparency and reporting agenda.
What do you think is the role of business in driving the sustainability agenda?
Business has a huge role to play in driving sustainability. We must work together to develop business models that can tackle the major sustainability challenges we face: climate change and environmental degradation, demographic change, inequality, urbanisation, to name some. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission highlighted last year the business opportunities of sustainable development. I would say that the companies aiming their business models towards these products and services are the ones that will prosper and succeed. The phrase “Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail” remains a solid illustration that not tackling the sustainability agenda is a problem and a huge risk for business.
We should also remember that we must bring investors into this conversation. There are important developments in this area through green and social impact bonds, the emergence of the ESG agenda in some investors and greater activism from this community. But this thinking is still siloed and we must work together.
How do you stay inspired in the quest of helping businesses be as sustainable as they can be?
Inspiration is critical and I get it in great amounts from various sources such as BITCI colleagues and Board who live and breathe sustainability and who are at the forefront of this agenda in Ireland; our member companies who challenge us and mark the path we must pursue in this ever changing agenda; counterpart organisations worldwide that give us examples, best practices and leadership. We must always look outside our country as many solutions will undoubtedly come from collaborating and partnering for better impact.
What is your motto in life?
We are blessed in so many ways to live in such an amazing planet with such incredible diversity of talent around us. We must embrace this diversity and make change happen today and tomorrow. The crazy thing is, that it is possible!
What does a perfect day entail for you?
Nice question! A perfect day combines inspiration from colleagues in the office with challenges from our members, finding solutions to common problems; helping connect people with solutions and celebrating our success. A good film and a good meal are always great elements of a perfect day.
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