“But CSR is more than simply compliance with legislation. A company does have a soul, and that means a CEO has to think about how the company behaves. You sit down with your stakeholders and open up a discussion about how you will meet your moral obligation to be sustainable.”
EMG CSR Consultancy interview with the President of EUROSIF. The European Sustainable Investment Forum (EUROSIF) is a network with missionto Develop Sustainability through European Financial Markets. The association is a not-for-profit entity that represents assets totalling over €1 trillion through its affiliate membership.
EMG CSR Consultancy spoke with Giuseppe van der Helm President of EUROSIF, about his work and his relentless passion for putting real meaning into the concept of stockholder values.
How do you see the role of the CEO in making a company more Sustainable?
In my experience, the CEO is key to the whole thing. We regularly organize stakeholder dialogues for large organisations and can have up to 40 key stakeholders from a company attending.
We sit down and talk about relevant CSR topics for the company, and ask for input from those stakeholders and what should be done. However, if a CEO is not on board with creating a sustainable business, it’s almost inevitable that efforts will fail. Cultural change in business must come from the top. I’ve been doing this work for six years now, and coming from a life in business, it’s in my blood. I know a good business case when I see one, and sustainability is definitely a good business case. But while there are plenty of numbers to back this up, we should not forget the moral and ethical side as well. Companies tend to shy away from that argument, because morals are about right and wrong, and nobody wants to be told they are wrong.
But CSR is more than simply compliance with legislation. A company does have a soul, and that means a CEO has to think about how the company behaves. You sit down with your stakeholders and open up a discussion about how you will meet your moral obligation to be sustainable.
So it shouldn’t be a one man show, but the fact is that it starts there. It should filter through the organization, and live through the organization. Then, when the company is ‘drenched’ in sustainability, a CEO leaving won’t change this, because the company is now living and breathing it.
One of the things we also recommend is that bonuses for management and the board be based on both long term performance and CSR performance. This is because the board cannot realize these goals by themselves. They’re just a few people; it’s the organization that has to perform.
So if they can make sure those smart, measurable goals are the same throughout the organization, and reward their people for their performance in realizing those targets, they will then get their own bonuses and take care of good reporting in the organization at the same time.
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