Business needs the real sustainability strategy alias Epitaph for terms that are often misused like CSR
Published 3/16/2012

Wednesday 14th March brought a summit of those who are not indifferent to the future, and who realize the importance of sustainable business development in all its contexts, whether it's a link to the consumers´ value orientation, harmonisation of relations with partners, responsibility towards employees or reduction of business impact on environment. The second annual Forum for sustainable business was organized by the company Blue Events in cooperation with the University of Economics in Prague.

The initial block, chaired by the editor of the weekly Respect, Tomáš Sacher, has focused particular attention to the attitude of top management of leading global companies to the topic of sustainability. Customers are more active, they have clear expectations – they want big companies to be fully aware of their influence and act in a fair and more responsible way, considering long-term consequences of their actions. And corporations’ bosses are really aware of this reality, as was proved by the contribution Chris Skirrow, partner of PwC Czech Republic. The situation has changed and companies can no longer rely on past practices, which often ignored the social and environmental impact of business. Nick Main, Global Leader of Sustainability and Climate Change Service of Deloitte also confirmed these ideas. According to him, strategic view on sustainability may also contribute to better management of risks associated with business.

The attitude of Czech state administration was represented by Robert Szurman, Director of the Department of Inter-Resort Affairs at the Ministry of industry and trade. His presentation brought a number of strategic governmental documents that are linked to the subject of sustainable business. There is however an obvious need for practical evaluation of these strategies, which must not remain only on paper.

The main theme, which connected all contributions of the second block, was a long-term planning as a key sustainability parameter. The main speaker of Forum, Vice President for sustainability of SAP - Martin Hill, stepped out with a presentation entitled "Innovation for the more sustainable future." He emphasized that sustainability does not conflict with profitability: "It is not primarily about the desire of companies to help the company, but it is also the path to profit. We must always answer the question, what is the value and return on investment."  Also Hill, as well as other presentations, mentioned critical notes on perception of CSR: "The problem of many companies is in the fact that they are talking only about CSR – often obsolete and with the taste of green washing."

Employees are the key holder of sustainability in companies. That was confirmed by the presentation that met with a great response of participants – a case study of Wal-Mart by Stewart Rassier, former Director of Saatchi and Saatchi S. He has demonstrated how the involvement of employees is still underestimated. His speech was significant also in the context of the current legislative pressure on retail chains


Improving sustainability is the basis of multinational corporation strategy, as was accented by Marieke Klein from Henkel. According to concept of Henkel sustainability is the way how company managers at all levels shall carry out their daily duties, reaching decisions, choosing projects and business partners, distributing resources, and finding business opportunities

The conference afternoon was devoted to the view of sustainability throughout the company. The first contribution of Petra Mašínová, Director of corporate communications and sustainable development in NWR, was devoted to the topic of reporting. She gave clear arguments why is reporting according to international company methodology so beneficial. Responsible behaviour, the positive and negative communication, fairness and transparency supported by the comprehensive reporting largely contribute to sustainability of the business. And allow you to obtain and maintain a social public agreement also with activities that may have a negative impact on surroundings. She showed how reporting in the area of responsible business may start a new strategy.


Corporate Affairs Manager of Nestlé CZECH, Martin Walter, spoke knowledgeably about the meaning of "Creating Shared Value" in practice. "Philanthropy and responsibility are not to be understood as contradictions, companies must only be aware of the need of social problem solutions as well as of chances to seek opportunities in them."  Agustin Lucardi from Interface FLOR showed what sustainability means for the company that has become a global leader thanks to this topic: „You must upgrade your products and provide customers with evidence of their new value parameters– real, credible information that will allow them to decide for purchase on the basis of the product´s whole life cycle.“


The second part of the afternoon block was dedicated to practical examples of sustainability application in company production represented by Jan Brazda of Knauf Insulation, or demonstration of cooperation between supplier and retailer introduced by representatives of the companies Unilever and Tesco. „I have heard the word sustainability for the first time only a month ago. Our company does not have any sustainability strategy pillar. However, we do all these things spontaneously, naturally," thus boldly started the Managing Director of a successful Czech company ET Netera Martin Montenegrin his fresh speech. In his opinion most important are people. If employees do not behave in accordance with sustainability, then it is a reason to consider where the error – on whose side is.


And what have been the key ideas of the Forum? They were summarised in the final panel discussion led by Dana Zadražilová, Head of the Department of Business Enterprise and Commercial Communications of University of Economics in Prague: • In Western societies sustainability is not just a modern word, but a comprehensive grasp of risks of irresponsible development, which actually exist and threaten the society as a whole. In the Czech Republic we still do not realize it fully. And prefer to be occupied by supposedly important matters of immediate care. We omit the need for long-term strategic planning, unfortunately, not only in case of corporations, but also at the State level.
• For sustainability development it is important to present successful cases. Not just nice stories, but also the real contributions of responsible behaviour for the company. Spontaneous moral authorities are heavily lacking.
• Sustainability also means business respecting ethical standards of conduct, including the fight against corruption - either the company behaves morally or supports corruption as a source of financial advantages, which company accepts despite moral credit.
• Companies should recognize that sustainability is the way, which helps to save their resources, and as such cannot be perceived only as costs, but as an effective long term investment.
• Sustainable attitude cannot be ensured by one specialised department or responsible team. It is necessary for all the staff to understand sustainability strategy, respect it, and engage in it.
• Creation of common values, from which the entire society can prosper, is a key role. Leading companies should create value standards for other companies, communities, and society as a whole. And they should look for opportunities for their business development in solution of social and environmental issues.
• Numerous activities e.g. around the concept of CSR, which in past were used primarily as a PR tool, led to the misuse of this concept. However sustainability is the parent term – the aim of many incremental activities, whether in the field of CSR, ecology or innovation.


Facts about the Forum for Sustainable Business 2012 (March 14 in Prague):
• Organizers: Blue Events and University of Economics in Prague
• Participants: 150 professionals across industries including a number of CEOs of both local and international companies
• Forum partners: Main Partner SAP Czech Republic and other important companies and institutions, incl. Ministry of industry and trade, Czech Commercial Chamber and Prague Business Club

For more detailed information contact 

Antonín Parma                                                            Radka Pokorná
General Manager, Blue Events                                   Expert Guarrantor                        

Media contact:
Zuzana Mračková, Client Service Manager, Blue Events
Tel.: +420 222 749 841, e-mail: