Greening Corporate Mindset

Vish Govindasamy – Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce – on promoting a corporate sustainability focus and ethos

Q: The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has made an announcement on Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability (BCCS) Awards. Could you give us a brief history of how it came to be?

A: The Awards were conceptualised in 2003 to encourage the private sector to focus on corporate social responsibility – CSR – initiatives.

Over time, the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards have become more focussed on sustainability aspects (such as the 3Ps: Planet, People and Profit) to encourage local corporates to integrate consideration of these aspects into business strategy.

The awards were renamed the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards to reflect the growing need for the inclusion of a sustainability mindset in commercial practices and to encourage adoption of safeguarding practices across operations and supply chains. And to engender an overarching accountability.

Q: What are the focal areas of the awards and who are the participants?

A: The awards focus on holistic sustainability initiatives and dedicated sustainability projects.

The BCCS Awards evaluate applications based on how effectively corporates adhere to sustainable practices against the 3Ps. The Triple Bottom Line award recognises excellence in one of these three areas while category and sector awards recognise sustainability initiatives in more specific areas.

Q: In what ways does the chamber encourage the corporate community to make decisions that are centred on sustainability?

A: The Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards are a pivotal point of the chamber’s efforts to encourage corporates to converge on sustainability.

As the premier representative of the private sector, the chamber’s initiatives such as the BCCS Awards demonstrate leadership in sustainability efforts, encouraging companies to adopt new tools and best practices such as circularity, assess and reduce energy and water consumption, and carbon footprints, in line with science based targets, life cycle assessments, and global conventions such as the Paris Agreement and other post-2020 global biodiversity agendas.

Q: How important is it for companies to promote projects on sustainability?

A: Every business operation impacts the planet – it’s incumbent upon companies to ensure that this impact is positive. Sustainability projects can deliver many benefits including business continuity, greening supply chains and benefiting communities.

As society becomes more environmentally conscious, companies engaging in sustainability efforts enjoy positive public perception, which drives customer loyalty and corporate growth.

Q: Can corporates balance profitability and sustainability?

A: Profitability and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. Focussing on sustainability ensures the long-term availability of resources. Sound financial management i.e. profitability ensures efficient operations, positive stakeholder relationships and longevity of the enterprise.

Business operations require various resource inputs such as water, air, raw materials, finances, employee and community support. It’s critical to ensure the availability, quality and longevity of such inputs in order to achieve business continuity and resilience.

It has become increasingly evident that commercial gains without an attempt to integrate sustainable models into business operations will benefit neither people, planet nor profit.

“The chamber’s initiatives such as the BCCS Awards demonstrate leadership in sustainability efforts, encouraging companies to adopt new tools and best practices