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Corporate Social Responsibility as a Driver of Sustainable Development
6 June 2019
16:45—18:00
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Corporate social responsibility is important for society and business itself

[The focus on responsible and ethical behaviour on the part of business is in the interests of the state, society, and companies themselves]. First of all, there are financial benefits. <...> The second one is competitiveness vis-a-vis customers. We know that customers are increasingly aware of environmental and social criteria, and also make their purchasing decisions on the basis of certain criteria that are beyond just the price or the quality. Finally, responsible business conduct can motivate employees of a company, because the reputation as a responsible employer boosts recruitment — Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, Director, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

In today’s international business environment, CSR [corporate social responsibility, – Ed.] is becoming an ever-more integral aspect and offers various advantages, regardless of a company’s size or specialization. The potential benefits of CSR for companies include having a good reputation, higher customer loyalty, savings in expenditures, opportunities for innovation, and the ability to attract talent — Alexey Borisov, Secretary-General, United Nations Association of Russia; Vice President, World Federation of United Nations Associations.

PhosAgro spends 2.5 billion roubles every year in enterprises that seemingly do not have anything to do with the production of fertilizers – construction of hospitals, of schools, education programmes, sports programmes, healthcare programmes [etc.] <...> You realize that when you align yourself, not only are you defensively protecting the company, but more importantly, the alignment enables you to develop closer relationships with your investors, your stakeholders, and your employees to better serve your customers. You are, frankly, enjoying what you are doing a lot more, and you are reaching greater global strategic success — Xavier Rolet, Chief Executive Officer, CQS; Chairman of the Board of Directors, PhosAgro; Former Chief Executive Officer, London Stock Exchange Group Plc (2009 – 2017) .

We believe it is crucial to employ the various tools offered by CSR and public reporting to reshape our reputation and help investors understand us better. We place great importance on the new reality associated with our products’ sales markets, whereby sustainable shipments are a key factor for the consumer. Over the next year, we intend to launch a project to digitalize our contracts according to blockchain principles. This will allow all our products to be tracked — Larisa Zelkova, Senior Vice President, Head of Human Resources, Social Policy and Public Relations Department, Norilsk Nickel .

CSR has to be a bridge between government, consumers, manufacturers, NGOs, and small and multi-national businesses, so at the end we all benefit as inhabitants of the planet — Allyson Park, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mars, Incorporated.

It is not only senior management and the director who demand that the CSR agenda is embraced – shareholders do, too. Half of our investors’ questions at our company’s last internal meeting were about what we were doing with regards social responsibility — Maxim Goncharov, Chief Executive Officer, LafargeHolcim Russia.

Sustainable development is a recognized obligation

The sustainable development agenda and sustainable development goals are no longer seen in the business sector as passing trends which companies employed to stand out from the crowd. They have become a recognized obligation and a development pathway for many businesses — Alexander Plakida, Chair of the Steering Committee, National Network of the Global Compact; Vice-Chairman of the Board, ACIG Group of Companies.

The development we have seen in the last 10–15 years is that corporate social responsibility has risen to the absolute top of the agenda. <...> I would say that any company that does not embrace this may end up in the dinosaur category of corporations — Anne Edwards, Senior Vice President, Public Policy Government Affairs and Communications, PepsiCo ESSA.

Our work helps create an atmosphere in which patients are ready to have their illnesses diagnosed and treated as early as possible. <...> It is the duty of business to make life better — Natalia Kolerova, General Manager, Oncology Department, Russia, Ukraine and CIS, Novartis AG.

The environment is a key part of the social responsibility agenda

We use waste recycling technology. In Russia it would be easier to not use it, as gas prices are attractive, and in principle we could have chosen not to pay attention to this issue, but we took the decision to continue to use this technology — Maxim Goncharov, Chief Executive Officer, LafargeHolcim Russia.

We have committed to making all our packaging either reusable or recyclable by 2025. This is a very significant commitment — Martial Rolland, Chief Executive Officer in Russia and Eurasia, Nestlé S.A..

We see corporate social responsibility as reducing waste, recycling our products, or reducing the impact on the environment. We are doing that very well. We have exceeded our targets in terms of carbon dioxide emissions — Ashok Ram Mohan, President for Affiliates in Russia and Belarus, Philip Morris International (PMI).

We are always looking for ways to get better and to roll out new initiatives. One of the recent ones that we just rolled out was something we call ‘Environmental Awareness’. We’ve had a very strong outreach programme with <...> individuals who live in the community of our mines in Chukotka. It is all about transparency, and it is all about communication, and through that you build trust with your local stakeholders — Paul Rollinson, Chief Executive Officer, Kincross Gold Corporation.

ISSUES
Russia does not have public financial reporting standards

Public financial reporting is vital for transparency, business responsibility, and investment attractiveness. Russia does not currently have public financial reporting standards. They have not been brought in line with international standards. This is a problem that we are aware of and which we want to correct. A strategy to develop public financial reporting was adopted in 2017. <...> There is a global financial report disclosure rating, in which Russia occupies 22nd place, with Brazil and China in 8th and 13th. We see this as not good enough, and we understand that the situation must be corrected — Ilya Torosov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

SOLUTIONS
Adopting the law on public financial reporting

A draft bill on public financial reporting has been drawn up. Large companies – both public and private – with revenues of 10 billion and more will have to disclose their information [on a mandatory basis, – Ed.] — Ilya Torosov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

Providing businesses with the tools needed for sustainable development

What businesses really need are examples of practical tools which could help them achieve sustainable development. It is very pleasing to see that the Ministry of Economic Development is taking systemic steps in this area, and as the regulator will provide specific tools to allow businesses to become ever more closely involved in this initiative — Alexander Plakida, Chair of the Steering Committee, National Network of the Global Compact; Vice-Chairman of the Board, ACIG Group of Companies.

Involving all employees in efforts to achieve sustainable development goals

At virtually all major corporations, the sustainable development agenda is currently the domain of senior management and shareholders. <...> The next step will be to make all employees aware of the benefits and appreciate their responsibility to adhere to sustainable development. Once this is done, the culminative effect will be that the company in question will enjoy a competitive advantage. A substantial effect will result from these efforts — Alexander Plakida, Chair of the Steering Committee, National Network of the Global Compact; Vice-Chairman of the Board, ACIG Group of Companies.

Educating and informing the public

We started to implement a programme to inform the public about recycling schemes, and we realized that the level of awareness on the topic was virtually zero. We understood that the problem was much broader in nature, and we switched our focus to educating and informing people about the environment. As of this year, our programme encompasses 11 schools, and will continue to grow — Maxim Goncharov, Chief Executive Officer, LafargeHolcim Russia.

I would like to talk about one small example that we have here in Russia. It is a ‘Good Nutrition’ programme, which is all about talking about good nutrition to young kids going to school, about behaviours. And this is something which has been going on for 20 years. We have reached 8.5 million children in 60 regions all over Russia — Martial Rolland, Chief Executive Officer in Russia and Eurasia, Nestlé S.A..

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS