CSR Agendaen #7 on the future for companies, CSR and CSR people

What is the decisive decade, what is the prize and how can companies and you as practitioners make it happen? A world-renowned expert and thinker talks to CSR.dk abot a way forward and how to make yourself relevant.

Aron Cramer, BSR CEO and global opinion leader on corporate responsibility and opportunities shares his thoughts and strategy advice with CSR.dk listeners. .

07.04.2020

Eva Harpøth Skjoldborg, CSR.dk

Early in 2020, member organisation and advisory provider BSR's CEO, Aron Cramer, visited Denmark. CSR.dk got to sit down with him to discuss the future of sustainability and business - and how CSR practitioners and professionals should think about their future. 

It was a conversation that took place long before most of us began working from home and hand sanitizer were a highly valued commodity. The short term reality for most companies and their employees will most probably have changed since this interview was recorded but the key points and challenges addressed in this podcast remain the same. 

However, we sent through two follow-up questions to Aron Kramer to ensure that we also address the current crisis. These - and his answers you can see below. For a more in-depth view on the role of corporate sustainability - please listen to the podcast. 

We strongly believe it will be worth your while. 

If you want to hear more of Aron Cramer's ideas, go to the BSR blog.

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Question:
In the podcast we talk about sustainability professionals and their understanding and contribution to business. I would assume this is even more relevant to stay in the rooms where decisions are made and stick with sustainability ambitions and investments post-corona, when the struggle to rebuild the economy begins. If you agree, can you elaborate on that?

Answer:
The question we are addressing concerns how companies can ensure that sustainability sits at the core of business decisions, rather than being treated as a separate effort which needs to be integrated into business strategy and operations.

This is why BSR talks about resilient business strategies. Ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of business strategy will indeed be more important than ever in the post-COVID-19 period, because there is an opportunity to build back in ways that prioritize areas such as climate change mitigation, human rights, economic inclusion, and women's empowerment.

COVID-19 has revealed, in a stark fashion, that many business models – particularly those involving extended supply chains – currently lack resilience. Climate change, for example, remains a very present issue with significant business impacts. And, when we emerge from this crisis, companies will have the opportunity to contribute to and shape a new social contract that respond to the needs of citizens, especially the most vulnerable people and communities, as we now see how in many nations the social contract is not functioning effectively or fairly.

Question:
In a recent blog post - a letter to the BSR community - you stated that "We hope that you and your families and communities are staying safe and healthy, applying the values that underlie our collective work on sustainability to see us through this challenging time."  What are "the values" and why are they particularly important now?

Answer:
The fundamental values that underlie our collective work are those of respect, integrity and leadership.  Many areas of our work - such as inclusive economy, human rights, and women's empowerment - are specifically focused on ensuring fairness and equity for vulnerable groups. Attention to these values is important now more than ever.

COVID-19 has shown very clearly that we are all in this together.  While crises often affect the most vulnerable among us first, they will ultimately affect everyone – that’s true whether we’re talking about the coronavirus or the impacts of climate change. We have to ensure the inclusion of all voices and perspectives in both our immediate responses to COVID and our long-term strategies to create a just and sustainable world.

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