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2009: a year to keep our collective resolve

January 2009

The next 12 months are not likely to be easy for anyone. EP asked a selection of people in the CSR world for some new year’s resolutions in the troubled times ahead.

Anthony Perret, head of corporate responsibility, Fishburn Hedges

‘2009 will be dominated by the economy – in corporate responsibility as much as anywhere else. Given this, the pressure will be to find quick, measurable impacts, whether through efficiencies or opportunities. This will certainly be a focus, but throughout the sector we need to work to ensure the genuine gains of the last few years are not wiped out by a renewed short-termism. It’s not sustainable, but it’s also not good business. So my resolution is to work for a responsible recession, one that gives a platform for greater sustainability going forward.’

Carolyn Housman, corporate responsibility manager, City of London Corporation
‘I have at least three resolutions. First, to encourage more business clients to pursue long-term partnerships with sustainable outcomes rather than “charity of the year” type relationships. Second, to commission empirical research to back up the business case for specific community investment programmes. And third, to work with large private sector buyers to shorten payment terms to help SMEs withstand the economic downturn.’

Paul Cornes, head of sustainability at Prudential Property Investment Managers
‘In an economic downturn sustainability is more important than ever and every penny counts – which means that having an efficient and sustainable business model is vital. So my first new year’s resolution is to do my bit to ensure that the business case for sustainability stays at the forefront of everyone’s mind. I will also try to avoid getting on a plane whenever there are alternatives, and to get out of the office more often to meet other sustainability practitioners.’

Mark Goyder, founder director, Tomorrow’s Company
‘The financial crisis is, ultimately,  the logical outcome of a view of business that maintains that transactions are more important than relationships. For 15 years Tomorrow’s Company has been building the argument that we need to redefine success for the sake of staff, shareholders and society. 2009 is the year that we will pull these arguments together. So my 2009 resolution is to help steer regulators and governments towards creating a climate in which investors and boards act as better stewards, and away from Sarbanes Oxley type solutions that just promote paper compliance  and kill innovation.’

Alyson Warhurst, Warwick Business School and co-founder of Maplecroft consultancy
‘My resolution is to work hard to ensure that all the efforts that have been made to encourage businesses to respect human rights throughout their value chains are not wasted as companies cut costs (hopefully not corners), in their adjustment to the global economic slowdown. Human rights violations around the world remain pervasive, and the picture going into 2009 is gloomy – although some companies have made important strides. We must ensure improvements are made in 2009 and that progress accelerates.’

Eileen Kohl Kaufman, executive director, Social Accountability International
I resolve to learn and report more about  the impact of the use of SA8000,our workplace standard, as well as other tools and our capacity building work. I also hope to document the lessons we have learned as we collaborate to build an enabling environment for workers to enjoy their rights.’

Alex Parkinson, consultant, Context
‘I’ll spend 2009 convincing business to continue to embrace sustainability despite the economic downturn. Our strongest argument is based on risk, opportunity, cost and profit. As a former financial journalist and Context’s newest member, I feel sustainability must be monetised.’

Alexander Nicoll, director of corporate responsibility, Liberty International
‘Our property management business is founded on people and place, and our shopping centres, in particular, thrive when local communities are strong and sustainable. So in 2009 I want to broaden and deepen existing relationships with many stakeholders active in the places where our business is carried on. Central to achieving this will be the active involvement of staff throughout our business. Additionally, one of my challenges will be to respond to the greater willingness to engage shown by staff, particularly new and younger colleagues – many of whom are already involved in charitable and volunteering projects in their own time. For me, 2009 will be about encouraging, and responding to, actions from others while keeping firmly in mind the fact that our power to reach out to the vulnerable and disadvantaged will be fundamentally curbed if we don’t keep the basic needs of our business in primary focus.’




Ethical Performance | Global | CSR

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