Akzo Nobel has joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a move which underlines the company’s efforts to create a dedicated approach to Corporate Social Responsibility.
Based in Switzerland, the WBCSD is a coalition of around 170 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.
WBCSD president, Björn Stigson, visited Akzo Nobel’s Arnhem headquarters recently, when he discussed the benefits of membership with CEO Hans Wijers. He explained that all companies in the coalition have the same fundamental belief—a coherent CSR strategy, based on sound ethics and core values, offering clear business benefits.
“In other words, acting in a socially responsible manner is more than just an ethical duty for a company,” said Stigson. “It is something that actually has a bottom-line pay-off. We are frontrunners, looking for ways to make things happen.”
He added that there are many cases that can be made for social responsibility—moral, ethical, religious and environmental. “Many of us as individuals believe in these cases”, continued Stigson. “But being a Business Council, we emphasize the business case.”
The president pointed out that pursuing corporate social responsibility can actually make companies more competitive, resilient to shocks, nimbler in a fast-changing world, more unified in purpose, more likely to attract and hold customers and the best employees, and more at ease with regulators, banks, insurers, and financial markets.
For his part, Wijers is confident that there will be clear benefits in joining the WBCSD. “Society today faces issues that cannot be solved on a local or even national level. A globalized economy asks for globalized solutions. We think that the worldwide outreach of the WBCSD is an effective way of contributing to a sustainable future, not only for developed countries, but also for developing nations and nations in transition.
“Joining the WBCSD will enable Akzo Nobel to participate in the development of policies and frameworks for businesses that contribute effectively to sustainable development worldwide, while at the same time creating a global level playing field.
"We will also be able to share leading-edge practices with the other members. In our businesses, we want to be leading. Quite naturally, we also want to join the leaders in the field of CSR.”
There’s another angle of the business case which is closely connected to Akzo Nobel: the value of entrepreneurial spirit." Added Wijers: “We look to the next point of the business curve—the point at which business can be more competitive by being more sustainability driven. WBCSD companies aim to be at that point first, and to stake it out as their value opportunity, and I believe that Akzo Nobel should be among them.”
(Released: July 2, 2004)