by Laurie Fitzjohn-Sykes, director of research, Tomorrow's Comapny Read the original article here. It is now 25 years since Tiny...
The City of London had to earn the public’s confidence and trust following the financial crisis, at a time when banks’ toxic debt was still ‘coming out of the woodwork’ such as in Ireland, Manwaring said. There was a need to ‘redefine our thinking beyond the triple bottom line’ of financial, social and environmental reporting.
Hosting the event, Lord Simon Haskel, a deputy speaker of the House of Lords who is a former Leeds textile industrialist, emphasized the need to gain ‘value for money’ from the public sector so as to benefit society as a whole. He added that ‘there is more to life than making money’.
He and Manwaring were setting the scene for the main speakers, David Phillips, senior reporting partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Anant Nadkarni, Vice-President of the Tata Council for Community Initiatives, from India.
Phillips, who is the co-author of The values reporting revolution, said that ‘we are still dominated by a piece of the jigsaw from the last century: GDP, profit and financial returns.’ While financial reporting was very important, ‘companies needed to move away from the obsessive path of financial outcomes’ and think about ‘behavioural influence’, sustainability and ‘the future of the planet’. This was why the Dean of Harvard’s business school had recently said that ‘the biggest issue facing business is trust’, Phillips said.
He suggested that ‘the most valuable customer is not the one who generates the maximum income but the one who helps to challenge and change your organisation.’ Reporting was still ‘stuck in a time warp’, he said. ‘Whatever we do we have to think of the behavioural influence– what makes us all tick.’
But he was also ‘more optimistic about change than I’ve ever been’, thank to the launch of a new International Integrated Reporting Committee. Launched in August, its remit is ‘to create a globally accepted framework for accounting for sustainability’.
Anant Nadkarni emphasised the need to move to ‘the next level of sustainability, no matter how one prefers to call it.’ Sustainability was at the heart of the Tata ethos but the values that underlie it had to be ‘co-created’, as they often lay in people’s collective opinions. ‘We need to work with people at all times’ in order to ‘be the change’, he said. ‘Change starts with me.’
Tata’s has pioneered a corporate Index for Sustainable Human Development–believed to be the first corporation in the world to do so–and the United Nations Development Programme is now seeking with Tata’s to ‘take it to the next level’, Nadkarni said.
Tony Manwaring said that Tata’s had ‘some of the most profound insights that we have come across’, including its ownership structure. Sixty per cent of the corporation is owned by its charitable trusts.
The Chief Executive of CIMA, Charles Tilley, said that population grown is driving the sustainability issue. While G20 governments had to oversee the preservation of the world’s fish stocks, rainforests and fresh water supplies, the two important words for corporate boards are ‘long term’. Good businesses were aware of this, ‘but we have to address the laggards,’ he said. Long-term thinking included the sustainability of the supply chain, such as fuel efficient delivery trucks.
When it came to building trust, ‘we’ve got to do the right thing when no one is looking,’ he said. He compared this to a golfer not being tempted to take an unseen second shot in a bunker. ‘That is so unprofessional,’ he said. ‘Business has to be a good citizen wherever it is working.’
Concluding, Lord Haskel said that ‘value creation is an output of creating good, sustainable, long-term business.’
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