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Encouraging news on sustainability from the corporate world

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  • Benoit
    Copied from: http://www.theroyalgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article? AID=/20061110/MIDOCEAN/111100203 Corporate responsibility now being embraced around the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12, 2006
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      AID=/20061110/MIDOCEAN/111100203

      Corporate responsibility 'now being embraced around the world'
      by HEATHER WOOD

      TOP companies around the world are today looking at non-traditional
      factors to determine whether or not their objectives are being met.
      As pointed out in a seminar given by The Institute of Directors'
      (IoD) Bermuda branch this week, social, environmental and ethical
      issues are increasingly included in business strategies by companies
      as eager to contribute to their community as their bottom line.
      The presentation was the first in a series of three presented in
      conjunction with KPMG.
      George Molenkamp, a partner of KPMG Netherlands and chairman of the
      company's Global Sustainability Services group, told those present
      that corporate responsibility is now being embraced around the
      world, with its contributions evident in all aspects of a community.
      "In the last few years, more and more companies have been busy with
      the question, 'Who are my stakeholders and what do they require from
      me'?," Dr. Molenkamp explained.
      "Of course, this question is not new. But new is that companies in
      the past dealt with these questions in a rather qualitative,
      unorganised way. Now they take a more structured approach."
      Dr. Molenkamp has worked in the field of environmental consulting
      and sustainability since 1974. He has experience in more than 35
      countries and at present, is closely involved in work in the field
      of corporate responsibility for multinational corporations in Europe
      and Asia.
      Using a definition given by the World Business Council for
      Sustainable Development, a coalition of the 190 of the world's
      largest multinationals, Dr. Molenkamp described corporate
      responsibility as "the commitment of business to contribute to
      sustainable economic development, working with employees, their
      families, the local community and society at large to improve their
      quality of life".
      Such is the role he plays at KPMG.
      "Corporate responsibility is an issue I'm responsible for in KPMG.
      We have a group of a few hundred people who are active as
      professionals in advising organisations and companies in this field.
      Corporate responsibility means that you – as a company, as an
      organisation – that you feel yourself responsible for the
      environment, for social issues and for the community and that when
      you do your business you take all those issues into account.
      "You not only look at money, the economy, profits, you also look at
      your impact on the environment. You look at how you're dealing with
      your employees, with equal opportunity and the diversity of your
      workforce.
      "You look at satisfaction of not only people within your company but
      also the people outside – the suppliers, the communities you are
      living in. You consider how you can integrate with the community,
      what can you do for the community.
      "If you are a rich company it's not only about making money but also
      giving something back to the community."
      Dr. Molenkamp added that a number of KPMG's clients are very active
      in the field helping their communities establish an efficient water
      or electricity supply, helping set up health systems for HIV.
      "Basically, they're giving something back to the community."
      Asked how such measures might benefit a developed society such as
      Bermuda, he said: "I must be honest, I don't know that much about
      Bermuda but I've read a little bit about it. There are, if you're
      talking about corporate responsibility, you have to deal with a
      number of big topics here.
      "I'm talking about the environment, for instance. I have the
      impression you don't have much drinking water here, there's more
      demand for water than there is supply, you depend on rainwater. So
      resources are fairly scarce.
      "Energy is a big topic for Bermuda as well. Not only the energy
      supply but how to deal efficiently with energy. If you are looking
      at climate change issues, well for Bermuda, it's really important.
      "You are an island. You know what will happen if the level of oceans
      rise – it has an impact on many countries, including Bermuda. We're
      talking about waste. What are you going to do with it? You have
      limited space. You have to look at sustainable tourism. Cars are a
      problem.
      "What I do with companies is to help them to think about what their
      responsibilities should be as a company. I look at the impact of
      those companies or those organisations on society – environmentally,
      socially, what are their biggest challenges? – and then see what is
      important to do.
      "That is the interesting thing. You can talk the talk, but you have
      to walk the talk. At KPMG we help companies walk the talk. We see
      what is necessary and help them integrate it into their
      organisations."
      In 2005 KPMG published a survey on the subject in conjunction with
      the University of Amsterdam. The International Survey of Corporate
      Responsibility Reporting examined more than 1600 of the biggest
      companies around the world including the top 250 Fortune 500
      companies and the top 100 businesses in 16 countries.
      "The results for us were really striking," said Dr. Molenkamp. "In
      the last few years we have seen a breakthrough in the developments.
      We found that CR reporting is now mainstream among the big
      companies, with more than half of the top 250 companies issuing
      separate CR reports besides their financial report."
      KPMG director Steve Woodward expressed his delight at Dr.
      Molenkamp's participation, saying it was especially valuable because
      the issue of sustainable development has been under debate for some
      time here.
      "We are delighted that Dr. Molenkamp has agreed to present this
      seminar in Bermuda at this time, given the current debate generated
      by the Government's recently-published Draft Plan for Sustainable
      Development, and the high level of interest in philanthropy,
      corporate responsibility and similar initiatives shown by corporate
      Bermuda.
      "We just thought it was a relevant topic for Bermuda. We have an
      association with the IoD through these general business seminars and
      we asked Dr. Molenkamp to come over to present.
      "We're talking more of a holistic approach – looking at the whole
      policy of what companies do."
      While here, Dr. Molenkamp also met with philanthropic groups and
      Government representatives.
      "We just felt it was something of general interest to Bermuda," said
      Mr. Woodward.
      Added Dr. Molenkamp: "I've been working for a long time in this
      field with many countries and really have just brought a little bit
      of my experiences to Bermuda.
      "Bermuda has been thinking about it already but having someone take
      a fresh look at it and tell what happens in other countries and
      other companies is sometimes – I hope – refreshing."
      As such it could be of benefit to companies considering developing
      their own corporate responsibility strategy, he said.
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