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 Launch of Centre for Business in Society

2011-03-09 00:00

The leading companies of the future will be those that are serious about sustainability and who prioritise it as such.

Companies are increasingly finding themselves in an environment with limited resources. To play a leading role and to maintain it, sustainability must receive preference in their economic, social and environmental practices.

This imperative for sustainability in business was strengthened by the launch today of the Centre for Business in Society at USB Executive Development (USB-ED), the public executive development and training company of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

The Centre focuses on research in corporate responsibility and sustainable development in business to provide for best practice benchmarks. These benchmarks are used to advice and consult companies and organisations on sustainability improvement strategies.

Dr Arnold Smit, head of the Centre for Business in Society, said that companies who want to play a leading role in future should seriously consider the following:

  • To empower management and staff at all levels to understand sustainability and put it into practise in their daily business operations
  • To identify and manage the changes that are involved in crossing the bridge towards a truly sustainable business
  • Collaborate with their stakeholders to create an environment within which a sustainable business is possible
  • Report confidently and truthfully about the economic, social and environmental impact of their business decisions and behaviours

“The objective of the newly launched Centre is to be in partnership with companies and organisations with the aim of a more sustainable business environment. The Centre, as part of USB Executive Development, will provide for a number of development programmes and services, focusing on the development and promotion of responsible leadership, sustainability and social capital.

“Some of the offerings amongst others are company in-house sustainability programmes, a certificate in sustainable corporate responsibility strategies and a programme to empower companies to better understand and engage more effectively with business dynamics at the “base of the pyramid”.

“There are also programmes aimed at organisations in the social sector to function more effectively and sustainable. The programmes provides for a suitable opportunity for companies to partner with USB ED for related BEE initiatives.”

The key note address speaker at the launch, Prof Obiora Ike from Nigeria, an international thought leader on sustainability and moral leadership, provided some food for thought with a number guiding principles for the role of business in society. These include:

  • Business exists to be sustainable. It is normal for business to understand their role as helping to create wealth (prosperity) by making profitable investments. This is not enough. The human being should be at the centre of this
  • Companies are part of communities
  • People form the basis for a sustainable corporate agenda
  • Measures that provide a healthy workplace, environmental protection, safety standards, rights of employees ensure that the environmental impact of what is done is minimised
  • The rule cannot remain: If you cannot beat them, join them. The rule must rather be: If you cannot beat them, close shop.

The Centre’s advisory panel consists of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, founder and executive head of the Umlambo Foundation, Prof Anders Aspling, secretary general of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, Dr Dan Ofori, senior lecturer at the Business School of the University of Ghana, Michael H. Rea, an international sustainability consultant and Frank Kilbourn, a business man from Cape Town.

Visit the Centre for Business in Society webpage
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