Posts Tagged ‘Conversation Society’

Donna Young, CSR Programme Director, BT continued the debate by adding to the points raised by Jo and Wolfgang.

She commented on how businesses have changed over time – and how, much like Jo commented, CSR teams have gone from being ‘sales prevention teams’ to being more about pushing the agenda – ensuring that the business set clearly defined goals that will help the business integrate sustainability into every element of the organisation.

What Donna was pleased about was that BT has six strategic intentions for it to be a responsible, sustainable business.  These ‘intentions’ are focused on ensuring that every element of the value chain considers how to make the offer more effective and of benefit to its customers and their communities.  She reffered to the fact that many people still lacked broadband so, in turn, how could ITC be of benefit in reducing consumers carbon footprint.

She referred to how many businesses and organisations are broadband connected and why that should be a stepping stone to ensuring all businesses have the same opportunities.

Yet she highlighted that for those who experience digital inclusion, particularly the elderly or disabled, how can a company like BT help those individuals who they may not touch through the service they offer.

Referring to the ‘two percent club’ which the Telecoms sits in, she claimed that these organisations have to look at how to create levelling playing fields where organisations, companies and developing countries can grow.

She moved on by commenting on the huge sustainability story BT has to tell. Using the example of how charities struggle during the recession, she raised the interesting point that in fact online is a great channel which has proven to drive greater levels of donation – so for a business who offers a service such as ‘MyDonate’ – BT is able to help much broader individuals and communities. Its about seeing how BT’s technology and services can help make a better place for many more individuals.

Wolfgang Weinmann, CafeDirect, continued the debate by talking about the efforts that CafeDirect has made since its inception, how it became the first large beverage company to ensure that sustainability was deeply engrained into its business operations and how sustainability helped CafeDirect defined itself as a company.

Wolfgang began by asking whether or not you could profit from sustainabiluty and argued that it is in fact sustainability that benefits from business and profitability. He used the example of sustainability in the supply chain – how you can use a process that involves several different stakeholders to identify opportunities for sustainability and really drive benefits.

He raised an interesting point around how businesses must help consumers behave in a more sustainable manner. The issue that CafeDirect faces as a hot beverage company its their consumers who have the larger carbon footprint. To this extent he claimed that what his business needed to do was to help their customers find more effective ways to benefit from sustainability – and the best way for CafeDirect was to improve the supply chain.

Wolfgang also commented that whilst businesses must improve their environmental footprint, they also have to consider their social footprint – particularly in developing companies.  For CafeDirect, as with most businesses, the aim is to deliver an outstanding product so how can businesses ensure that they also consider sustainability and CSR when the product is a priority.

He raised an interesting point – organic food may be syonymous with  sustainability but because the consumer sees no real benefit despite paying more for a product,  its no wonder that organic consumption has fallen in the last few years.

To the above point, he highlighted that CafeDirect was not a profit driven business, instead it was about finding the most sustainable way to operate its business through every step of the supply chain. He referenced the close relationship CafeDirect has with its farmers to ensure that when they go to market, the farmers are assured that the drive for profit does not distract the business from ensuring that it does its best for those it works with.