The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Nigeria Limited, Mr Bisi Onasanya has urged organizations to show commitment to sustainability as it has long-term benefits for them.
Giving the admonition at the International Sustainability Conference 2014 held in Lagos, organised by FirstBank Sustainability Centre in partnership with the Lagos Business School, Onasanya noted that sustainability will focus on minimizing or getting rid of social and environmental impact on business activities for speedy development of the society.
He said, “I think we need to do away with the mindset that being corporate responsible organisation is expensive. It is not about making money, but it is not also about losing money. It might be expensive to implement, but at the end of it all, the entire society benefits from it and every institution that takes part in it also benefits from it.”
He went further to say that building a sustainability oriented organizations makes avenue for business cost-efficient and cheaper to run.
“Also, at the end of it all, it enhances your profitability. But you have to be patient to get to that level,” he said.
On the need to keep the ecosystem sustainable enough to enable prosperity in the venture of human progress, Onasanya said, “The issues that rock the relative serenity of our world economically, socially, politically – and especially the threats to our physical environment – are more explicit today than ever before in the history of the human race.”
He said stakeholders, from investors to customers and employees were demanding sustainable practices as a condition for determining engagement with business organisations.
“Every institution needs to accept the fact that sustainability is not an expensive venture. While it might be expensive in the short-run, at the end of the day the rewards are bountiful. We all have to accept responsibility that we cannot abandon the society that we have to put back into the society what we have taken from it.”
Delivering a keynote address, the Director, Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield University, Prof. David Grayson, described corporate sustainability as the highest level of maturity.
“Businesses should be committed to sustainable practices. It is important that businesses work with each other, learn from each other and share some of their practical challenges in trying to improve their performance around sustainability. That kind of collaboration can be very useful in terms of finding some innovations, some new ways of doing business,” he said.