A major summit on corporate responsibility is the centrepiece of this year’s Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) National Corporate Responsibility Week, which takes place from 15 to 19 November.
The focus of the summit in the Aviva Stadium on 18 November is how companies can transform themselves into sustainable businesses. Delegates will hear from a range of high profile speakers from some of the world’s most innovative companies, including Sir Stuart Rose, executive chairperson, Marks and Spencer, Natale Ricciardi, senior vice president of Pfizer, Rosheen McGuckian, group corporate development director, NTR, Chris Tuppen, chief sustainability officer, BT Group and Dr Werner Kruckow, CEO of Siemens, on how corporate responsibility impacted on their organisations. Speakers from IBM EMEA, O2, Danone, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company, Deloitte, InterfaceFLOR and Guardian News & Media will also be sharing their experiences.
“We decided to look at how corporate responsibility can help transform companies from very old traditional models into dynamic future models of sustainability,” explains Tina Roche, chief executive of BITC Ireland. “The calibre of the speakers who are coming, both international and national, is second to none,” says Roche.
“What we’re trying to do is look at what the major companies are doing,” she continues. “Some companies are brilliant and Marks and Spencer is one of those. There’s commitment behind every decision in the company – everything from where they source their eggs to the dyes they put in their clothes. They can see that everything has to be sustainable because the resources in the world are running down.
“James Quincey, Coca Cola’s president, Northwest Europe & Nordics Business Unit, is going to talk about the issues for the company involved in transforming into a sustainable business.
“The focus now is about how we can produce low-carbon or no-carbon products. How can we sell those and how can we make the consumer understand that this is what the future’s about.”
Roche maintains that the issue is particularly important at this time because businesses are facing a whole new set of challenges and rules. “The decisions you have to make now aren’t about what to make and what to sell it for, it’s about whether you can make a sustainable product in the long term, are you going to damage the environment if you produce this product, and if you do what can you mitigate until there’s new technology to provide you with something that isn’t damaging. Or do you not produce it at all.”
In addition to the summit, BITC is running its fifth annual corporate responsibility week. “We started the corporate responsibility week because we’re trying to get internal CR managers to engage more and more people, because corporate responsibility isn’t just about one department,” says Roche. “It’s every department. To try to get people to focus on a community day, workplace day or marketplace day gives them the opportunity to talk about all the different aspects of corporate responsibility.”
The main aim for the week is to raise the issue of corporate responsibility in all areas, she says. “We’ll work with all of our member companies for them to raise issues within their organisations. In our 60 member companies there are about 300,000 employees. Getting the word out about different issues and innovations affects all of those employees and their families.”
To learn more about the conference and corporate responsibility week, visit www.bitc.ie.