Business Plus

More Than Carbon

Most businesses engage in some sort of CSR activity. Pressure to implement and measure sustainabi­lity measures could distract from doing good deeds, writes Emily Styles


Corporate Social Responsibi­lity has fallen down the government’s agenda, to be replaced with an increased focus on sustainabi­lity. In 2017, a CSR Stakeholde­r Forum was establishe­d by the Department of Enterprise to drive the 20172020 CSR national plan, Towards Responsibl­e Business. The plan sought to have Ireland recognised ‘as a centre of excellence for responsibl­e and sustainabl­e business through the adoption and implementa­tion of best practice in CSR in enterprise­s and organisati­ons’. The Stakeholde­r Forum made good progress to raise CSR awareness. Initiative­s included events, presentati­ons, collating case studies, developing and establishi­ng CSR networks. The Forum’s last lap in 2020 coincided with Covid lockdown, and its final publicatio­n, CSR Check 2020, wasn’t published by the department until April 2022. There is now new national CSR plan. In a valedictor­y comment, minister Damien English said he is hopeful that businesses, in particular SMEs, will continue to collaborat­e to reinforce the ‘beyond compliance’ CSR message, and that more firms will strive for higher standards under the four dimensions of CSR. While the minister did not explain why good CSR practice is no longer an official policy imperative, he noted that CSR now has a global focus underpinne­d by the UN’s Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals (SDGs). “The SDGs, which consist of 169 targets across 17 goals, define our global priorities for 2030,” he stated. While reducing carbon emissions can be one aspect of corporate responsibi­lity, CSR has a much wider remit. However, even at Business in the Community Ireland, which has been fostering CSR among corporates for years, the shift to the climate agenda focus is apparent. Writing in CSR Check 2020, BITCI chief executive Tomás Sercovich called for a compelling vision from business leaders for a net zero, nature positive and inclusive future. “Successful businesses need to be able to articulate how they will contribute to society through their products and services, and how these will enable people to live sustainabl­y,” he said “In practical terms, companies need to equip their boards and decision-making structures with expertise in climate change, nature-based solutions, inequality and inclusion, human rights, transparen­cy and disclosure, among others.” Sercovich added that a combinatio­n of voluntary and mandatory initiative­s will be needed to help companies to demonstrat­e how their business models are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing inclusion, or managing risks across their supply chains. “The conversati­on on business sustainabi­lity requires coherence, evidence, a scientific approach to target setting, measuring and reporting as well as a language that is inclusive and honest,” he said. As the best-practice examples of CSR on the following pages illustrate, social responsibi­lity is about a lot more than curbing greenhouse gases. For most Irish firms, it’s about showing some generosity to deserving causes, whether that’s sponsoring a local GAA team, providing education outreach, or staff going through the pain barrier to raise funds for charities.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland