The Chambers Ireland CSR Awards 2018 took place recently. As official partners on the Awards our CEO Tomás Sercovich spoke at the celebratory event challenging business leaders with some thought provoking questions and celebrating the inspiring work of CSR and Sustainability practitioners. Here that follows is an edited summary from his keynote speech.
“We were delighted to be partnering once more with Chambers Ireland in this great initiative.
Congratulations to the shortlisted companies, the category winners and of course the Outstanding Achievement winner. Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion was the guest category this year and, looking at the shortlisted entries, it was exciting to see the broad focus to diversity implemented in these initiatives.
Everybody tells me Ireland is booming again, that we are open for business.
It is great to hear Cathriona Hallahan announcing 200 new jobs for Microsoft in Ireland or to see the Dublin “crane count” back up again. And growing. But there are serious challenges ahead for our economy, our society and our environment. And this is without mentioning Brexit, Trump, Putin, the Refugee Crisis or North Korea.
As this uncertain and complex world unfolds, we need to ask ourselves if our business models are future-fit and we need to see how your strategies as leading businesses will adapt quickly to the ever-changing landscape. Just recently the World Economic Forum announced that half of workers worldwide will need re-skilling by 2022, especially in sectors like tourism and financial services.
As there are serious sustainability threats to face, there are also huge opportunities. There is money to be made in the low carbon economy too.
So, my question to you as business leaders is whether your company’s business model is future-fit and ready for the change coming in the next 5, 10 and 15 years?
Are your investors, customers and colleagues ready for the challenge ahead?
Does your Board support this “systemic transformation”?
The scale of the challenge we face is huge and we need to drive the collective power of business.Where is the business voice on climate change? Or the business action on tackling social exclusion? Because you know very well that broken societies are bad for business. How do we partner among businesses for greater impact and greater benefit?
I was made aware of the need of a collective response earlier this year in Ringaskiddy and Little Island, the heartland of our bio pharma and medical devices boom where the war for talent is a clear challenge. Companies are aware that they need to work together to ensure that Cork, Munster, Ireland are seen as great places to live and work if we want to bring the talent this industry needs.
I’m delighted that Business in the Community is driving the agenda for collection action on sustainability with more concrete actions and results to be announced soon.
I will close with one word.
The word is authenticity.
While the interest in sustainability and CSR continues to grow, we must ensure this is done consistently and with solid foundations on the strategy and the behaviours of the company.
CSR is not a restaurant menu or an optional course at school.
It is more than a one-off set of initiatives, a glossy report.
It is about the Purpose of your business.
In particular I want to take this opportunity to celebrate those who have been driving this agenda for many years, even before these awards existed and long before CSR became popular and got the attention of CEOs and the media.
I want to celebrate the CSR managers that were flying the flag for CSR when it meant photos with giant cheques. And that then during the crisis they were also defending CSR while budgets were being cut and management attention diverted elsewhere.
I want to celebrate the CSR managers that still today believe this is about the long term viability of your business and not just the accolades you showcase in the glass cabinet.
You are the unspoken heroes of the great initiatives we celebrated last week.
It is great to be back working with you again.
You inspire us every day with your leadership and your determination.”