Corporate leaders advocate sustainability as tool for corporate efficiency

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Corporate sustainability has been described as the next mega trend, which could transform organisations, their markets and the economy in a way far superior to past mega trends, such as total quality management, globalisation and information communication technology.

Discussants at the FirstBank International Sustainability Conference held at the Lagos Business School, LBS, on Thursday, said that global organisations are increasingly faced with expectations of taking active roles in meeting the world’s environmental and social challenges, especially as investors, customers and others are demanding sustainability as a condition for determining which organisation to do business with.

The discussants include the Group Managing Director of FirstBank of Nigeria, Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, Tonye Patrick Cole, co-founder and Group Executive director, Sahara Energy Group and Ivana Osagie of Notore Chemical Industries.

Others are Prof. David Grayson, director, Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cransfield School of Management, Paul Gumey, director at Accenture and lead Sustainability Business in Africa and Temitope Akin-Fadeyi, banker and overseer of Financial Inclusion Secretariat of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The position canvassed by the discussants, stem from the reasoning that sustainability involves ensuring the negative environmental and social aspect of business activities are minimised so as to be consistent with development requirements of society in a resource depleting society.

They argued that many business leaders have responded by beginning to integrate sustainability to their corporate strategies despite the challenges.

FirstBank boss, Onasanya said that the gathering became pertinent “because of the untiring efforts of preceding generations to keep our ecosystem sustainable enough to enable us prosper in the venture of human progress.

Onasanya said that the issues that rock the relative serenity of “our world economically, socially, politically – and especially the threats to our physical environment – are more explicit today than ever before in the history of the human race.

“You are here because somehow you are concerned enough, like me; and that makes the two of us, or the multitude of us if you may. I am, therefore, comfortable to note that together we are able to deal with our sustainability issues.

Onasanya said that conference held under the auspices of the FirstBank Sustainability Centre, provides yet another platform by the bank to promote thought leadership and policy development on a subject of immense global interest.

“For more than a century and two decades, our Bank has been at the forefront of driving national economic growth, empowering people, expanding educational opportunities and learning, improving healthcare and wellbeing, strengthening communities and promoting environmental sustainability across the nation and the world at large.

“This is consistent with our belief in banking that serves the common good.
Our corporate responsibility and sustainability investments have always been devoted to forging partnerships with people and institutions at the vantage position of finding lasting solutions to the economic, social and environmental issues facing people and communities.

“Permit me to highlight our partnerships with the United Nations Global Compact and the Nigeria Sustainable Banking Practices led by the Central Bank of Nigeria, as typical examples of our Bank’s measurable long term commitments to ensuring a better world, for this generation and succeeding generations.

“Globally, organizations are being tasked with taking more active interest in meeting the world’s environmental and social needs. Stakeholders, from investors to customers and employees, amongst many others, are demanding sustainable practices as a condition for determining engagement with business organisations.

Onasanya said that in furtherance FirstBank’s position as a sustainability thought leader, the FirstBank Sustainability Centre in partnership with the Lagos Business School, serves as a fulcrum for knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination and knowledge application on sustainability related issues.

“I am especially pleased with the bold strides the Centre has made in living up to its billing. I cannot thank the Director and team enough for the good work they are doing.

He said that the International Sustainability Conference is amongst a series of programmes organized by the FirstBank Sustainability Centre to actualize its mandate.

“I welcome our distinguished speakers and panelists, and all delegates that have assembled from across many continents to share their expertise in Sustainability Strategy and Sustainable Investing; Corporate Responsibility and Governance; and Reputation Management, amongst other themes.

“Your partnership exemplifies our Bank’s brand promise to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence, through passion, partnership and people, to position “You First” in every respect.

“Our financial services knowledge and practices lead the market in ensuring that we understand our customers and surpass expectations by seeking for a better way of delivering first class service and experience. We believe that this conference will equally lead the way in generating a viable roadmap for tackling the issues of sustainability in Africa and the world.

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