EARLIER this month, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of TT hosted a conference addressing the ways global sustainable development goals, or SDGs, can be incorporated in business culture.
Among the participants was KC Confectionery, the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s Internationally-Known, T&T-Owned Company of the Year, whose CEO Satnarine Bachew this month also called for SDGs to become part of the commercial landscape.
“This is a conversation that needs to be ongoing,” Mr Bachew said. “If we are really serious about this, we need to get as many people on board as possible.”
Also participating in the same conference was John Hadad, group co-CEO of the Hadco Group of Companies, who lamented not enough attention is being paid to environmental, social and corporate governance issues.
“Trend is a lot of talk, but no action,” Mr Hadad said.
It is worth taking note of the positions of both figures.
It makes sense for companies to adopt the best practices possible in alignment with international goals.
While pressing issues have emerged within the changed international landscape owing to the pandemic, military conflict and economic malaise, the 17 SDGs outlined at a key UN Summit in New York in 2015 remain relevant.
Those goals include: ending world hunger and poverty; ensuring that the world practises good health and well-being, creating a framework for net-zero emissions; reducing inequalities and creating affordable and clean energy to meet the demands of the world; and providing decent work and encouraging economic growth.
It all sounds lofty, even utopian, given all the stresses economies around the world currently face, such as high-inflation environments and continued distribution problems.
But the seemingly more pressing issues faced by business in fact provide justification for why SDGs should be a part of the overall picture still. Without a doubt they can potentially contribute to a more stable global economic environment.
Certainly, compliance with these objectives can potentially make local businesses more competitive when it comes to attracting investment.
The SDGs can be viewed as a shorthand for caring about one’s customer base. Doing so is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good business, according to figures like those who spoke at this month’s conference.
International firms are taking steps to implement cultural changes to widen their focus. If local companies do not do the same, they will fall behind. TT’s economy will become less competitive and lose out.
The public sector has a role to play in all this.
State agencies like to sign up to agreements and to commit, on par, to a range of ideals. More palatable would be seeing such ideals in action in the civil service, where there is an overdue need for reform.
If the private sector is still lagging behind when it comes to adapting to 21st-century marketplace practices, then the public sector is even further behind. Both need to change.