In late 2020, amidst lockdowns that had just started to be a new norm, Business Forward launched its first of a kind digital campaign, “This is how I moved my #BusinessForward”, in which content flew from an audience of business leaders telling the stories of how their companies navigated the pandemic year with all the unprecedented challenges that came out of it. Following short-listing, the audience voted on the most inspiring story of business resilience, and the results were announced at the end of Business Forward’s annual event of 2020.
This year, we remain excited to hear how business leaders moved their business forward, this time by being more responsive and attuned to the needs of the communities they serve, while also bringing value to their business. In 2021- and probably the next few years to come- as the world talks about building back better, and as climate challenges become louder than ever, the concept of stakeholder – rather than shareholder- capitalism is gaining momentum, more enterprises are committed to Environmental and Social Governance (ESG), and consumers are gradually becoming more conscious about their choices. These are all trends that emphasize responsible business, which is the theme of this edition of “This is how I moved my #BusinessForward” campaign, that was launched during Business Forward Annual Event on December 13, 2021.
Enterprises of all sizes have a lot to contribute to their different stakeholders whether they are shareholders and owners, employees, customers, suppliers and distributors, investors, governments or the wider community. Making an impact through responsible business does not necessarily need to involve a huge amount of spending and is certainly not about creating PR hypes. In many cases, it is embedded in the company’s business model and DNA and contributes to building its brand value. The campaign, receiving contributions from companies until February 15, 2022, aims to highlight the examples that support this.
In this year’s edition of the campaign, Business Forward partners with two leading corporates: The Coca-Cola Company and the Commercial International Bank (CIB), both of which are pioneers in modeling impactful responsible business practices in their respective industries.
Besides being Egypt’s leading private sector bank and the first institution to issue green corporate bonds in Egypt, in cooperation with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), availing finance opportunities for projects that address climate action and potentially expanding the renewable energy, energy efficiency and green building sectors, CIB has embarked in a journey to reduce its ‘Carbon Footprint’ since 2018. This year, CIB issued its pioneering ‘Ecological Footprint’, by expanding the scope to include not only carbon footprint but also the water and land footprints, as explained by Maysoun Aly, Head of E&S Management & Sustainability Systems at CIB during the launch session.
Measures are adopted by the bank to reduce and monitor the land, carbon, and water emissions per employee, and the bank’s targets are expanding to include its value chains and clients by 2025. “Our monitoring shows that since 2019, emissions per employee have fallen to below the median for the banking sector and international benchmarks. CIB has successfully achieved the reduction of its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on its own operations by 10 percent in 2020 compared to the baseline year (2018),” said Aly, and continued, “Our ability to reduce the ecological footprint [of the bank], involves several elements, like green building certifications for our buildings and pursuing the EDGE certification for our new premises in the New Capital.”
During her presentation at the launch session, Shereen Shahin, head of public policy and sustainability for North Africa at the Coca-Cola Company, explained how the classic definitions of the purpose of the business being solely maximizing profits have long been proven wrong. Shahin reiterated that the concepts of responsible business can be applied by small and medium-sized enterprises, not just multinationals, subscribing to the conviction that it is more the former that potentially drives economic development. She explained that at the Coca-Cola Company, creating shared value is practiced on three levels. One of those is about redesigning how the company operates so that the process brings value to as many players as possible. An example of that is bringing circularity to its production, so that 50 percent of its production is recyclable, which is likely to be reached before the 2025 target year. The second level is redefining productivity, meaning bringing in solutions to reduce resource depletion, like shifting to renewable energy or for example using plant-based bottles as Coca-Cola currently does. Cluster development was the third level Shahin mentioned, citing Silicon Valley as an example, explaining that this is the company’s approach in creating an ecosystem of suppliers and service providers around its production plants. “We rise by lifting others,” stated Shahin, “One of the great things we can do together through the campaign is sharing knowledge.”
“This is how I moved my #BusinessForward” campaign, calls upon business leaders from Egypt, the Middle East and Africa to share videos or visual stories of how their enterprises are gearing towards responsible business and responding to the needs of their stakeholders and communities. The campaign ends with the audience voting on the most inspiring stories and an awards ceremony in March 2022. This campaign strives to build strong awareness and commitment to impactful responsible business through featuring real examples and storytelling by companies who will participate.