Growing the Culture of Sustainability in South-East Asia
To give another context on the culture of Sustainability, Richard Welford, President of CSR Asia, returned this year to speak about ‘Developing a Sustainability Culture in Business in Asia’. He began by outlining the scope of sustainability culture, from leadership at the top to implementation by management, and development and training of staff. Businesses can only achieve lasting sustainability, Richard emphasized, once the whole value chain is engaged. He then enumerated the four core elements of a culture of sustainability:
First is “Fostering commitment” through employee engagement in delivering sustainability commitments. He elaborated that motivating employees can involve internal workshops and training, internal innovation and experimentation, and rewards for any contributions and progress. He stressed that employee engagement and fulfilment will form the strong foundation for the success of a company’s sustainability culture, and the longevity of sustainability commitments.
The second important element is “Clarity of expectations”, through development of structures and procedures to implement sustainability commitments. Businesses must develop structures and procedures to implement the commitments, particularly aligning with the criteria of being measurable, reportable, and verifiable. He pointed that companies must either expand existing roles or create new ones for sustainability commitments. Unilever was cited as a prime example, because they have the Executives’ salaries based on the sustainability-focused ESG metrics.
“Momentum-building for change” is the third element wherein generation of new ideas and practices paving way forward is encouraged. Richard proposed crossfunctional teams to catalyze innovation at all levels – from organizational, departmental down to personal – in order to sustain momentum for progress. Furthermore, Mr. Welford implored companies to work with their various stakeholders, from the supply chain to investors and customer-base, to generate ideas and collaborate. Sharing best practices within internal groups, and across the wider industries, would also drive momentum in the long term.
The last element is having “Actions for real change”, through formalization of processes and taking part in the ‘big picture’. He highlighted that businesses must formalize the movement towards lasting sustainability, playing the role of industry pioneer and collaborator on public policy. The integration of sustainability in corporate culture will ensure that benefits beyond business practices will cascade to society as a whole.
In closing, his presentation gave light to the Sustainability efforts of the Ayala Group. Being a pioneer in the country, and with the efforts and strategies it takes, the conglomerate has a growing culture of Sustainability – one that will surely positively impact its employees.