Companies urged to embrace sustainable practices to truly go green – The Straits Times

Companies urged to embrace sustainable practices to truly go green – The Straits Times yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7

SINGAPORE – Companies are signing up to the notion of sustainability but they must make it a core part of their business and not just a box-ticking exercise, noted judges for the Steward Leadership 25 (SL25).
This means getting employees from the executive suite on down to embrace the concept of sustainability and to become more aware of how the company’s operations could affect the environment and the community.
SL25 is an annual listing of the 25 best projects of steward leadership excellence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The projects will be recognised at the Steward Leadership Summit at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore on Nov 21.
Steward leadership is the desire to create a collective better future. In business, this means pursuing a stewardship purpose that aims to enable employees, shareholders and society to thrive together.
The SL25 initiative highlights companies that might not feel their efforts related to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives are being recognised and appreciated, said one of the judges, Mr Munib Madni, chief executive of fund management company Panarchy Partners.
“If the company is recognised for its initiatives externally, it makes an impact internally as the employees will feel recognised,” he added.
Fellow judge Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria noted that consumers, particularly younger ones, are more discerning in their consumption, so companies must take steps towards becoming sustainable and inclusive.
“SL25 provides an opportunity for businesses that have begun this journey to highlight and share their experience of why sustainability and impact matter and how to put this into practice,” added Dr Sta Maria, who is the executive director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Secretariat, an advisory body to the 21 member economies in the Apec forum.
“Making sustainability and inclusivity a key part of one’s business strategy calls for leadership that looks beyond profit and strives to balance profit with impact on the environment and community.”
Companies need leaders that do not see ESG as just ticking boxes but as integral to the company’s business objectives, she added.
Regulators are also including ESG compliance in their corporate governance mandates, with emphasis on good business conduct, Dr Sta Maria said, noting: “They are increasing demands that businesses take cognisance of their global supply and value chains and include traceability and transparency as part of their practice.”
The gaps that need to be addressed centre on competence and skills within organisations, including the directors, to understand how the business affects the environment, society and community.
Dr Sta Maria noted that a company’s ESG efforts cannot be consigned to a department, unit or individual: “Everyone in the organisation must understand how the business impacts their environment, society and community.”
This must also involve governments, specifically in ensuring regulations are fit-for-purpose and supportive of the transition that companies must make in the face of the environmental and sustainability challenges, she said.
Singapore’s role as a financial and business hub means it can lead the way for the region, not just in ensuring regulatory coherence but also to test-bed ideas towards a more sustainable and inclusive future, said Dr Sta Maria.
Fellow SL25 judge Hellmut Schutte, professor emeritus of international management at Insead, added that vested interests have to be overcome and “greenwashing” avoided.
He said that banks here are also well positioned to guide clients in the region in the area of green finance.
The honourees in 2022 included the lenders DBS, UOB and OCBC, as well as City Developments and CapitaLand Investment.
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MCI (P) 066/10/2023. Published by SPH Media Limited, Co. Regn. No. 202120748H. Copyright © 2023 SPH Media Limited. All rights reserved.


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