MANAGEMENT: Business Must Create Sustainability
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Business wields great power, but with it also comes great responsibility. That responsibility is to create economic and societal sustainability for future generations.
This is according to Prof Anders Aspling, secretary-general of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), based in Belgium.
He was speaking at the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s (USB) first Leader’s Angle talk for the year. The USB uses this Leader’s Angle platform to share the leadership know-how of local and international academics, authors and business leaders with alumni, students and South Africa’s business community.
“Many businesses have realised that if they are not socially responsible they will destroy their brand. Instead of looking at sustainability as a strategy, it should rather be integrated into the DNA of the company. Economic and societal value should go hand-in-hand – they are equally important.”
Aspling says there is a sound business case for globally responsible business. This is that customers and markets the world over have come to expect sustainability in a firm’s operations as well as ecologically sound products.
“No organisation can ignore sustainability and being responsible,” said Prof Aspling.
The role of business in society today is explicitly on the agenda with this “growing concern among consumers”, which has become a competitive dimension. “Even in countries like China and India over the past three years they are speaking of ecology and the environment,” said Aspling.
Aspling said there are indications that top companies on the New York stock exchange which have cared for the environment and social aspects have reported better results. Swedish banks have refused to invest hundreds of millions of investments in the automobile sector, because these aspects of sustainability have not been fully considered by this industry.
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