Following a year of great discussion on sustainability and climate change, there’s never been more pressure on Irish business to take immediate, meaningful action and adapt their way of doing business to become more sustainable. While global discussions such as COP27 have had the positive result of shining a light on the changes we need to implement immediately, what does this mean for Irish business and how can they ensure that they stay on track to reach their goals for this year and beyond, as well as actively educating themselves and their staff and preparing for upcoming EU sustainability legislation that may directly affect them?
How Business in the Community Ireland can help with sustainability
It is precisely here that Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) can offer vital support as the leading, non-profit advisors in sustainability, ESG and corporate social responsibility in Ireland. Business in the Community Ireland is a movement for sustainable change in business with 120 of Ireland’s largest companies as members. BITCI’s mission is to inspire and enable business to move Ireland towards a low carbon, socially inclusive, nature positive future where everyone thrives. To achieve this, they provide access to best practice, support businesses with bespoke advice, training, and delivery on their journey of change, and enable and embed moving towards a sustainable Ireland, as a diverse collective of businesses across sectors.
Underpinning this, they support businesses with practical management and monitoring systems including the Business Working Responsibly Mark (‘The Mark’), a rigorous audit-based assessment, designed to help Irish business build a cohesive approach that supports their journey towards environmental and social sustainability. The Mark focuses on a strong foundation of governance and incorporates new and vital dimensions of economic impact for Irish companies who are deeply committed to change.
It is aligned with the upcoming Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and certifying can provide a route towards compliance. 41 of BITCI’s members have achieved The Mark certification. The Mark assessment puts in place strong governance systems which ensure that the organisation stays on track to achieve its sustainability goals and complement regulatory requirements. The Mark process also provides best practice examples, supporting organisations in peer learning and leadership. Through ongoing consultation with a variety of stakeholders, the experts at BITCI have evolved the contents of the Mark and designed a certification process which embeds sustainability into the core management systems of businesses.
BITCI empowers a movement for change through their collective voice and pledges. The Low Carbon Pledge by BITCI is now in its fourth year and includes over 70 major Irish companies who have signed up to date. It is the first dedicated pledge generated by Irish business to set industry standards on sustainability and reduce carbon usage. The Elevate Pledge is BITCI’s new pledge to support the building of more inclusive workplaces with the ultimate ambition of a nationwide workforce that is representative of all members of Irish society. By signing up, companies in Ireland can demonstrate their commitment to building truly inclusive workplaces and supporting broader values of inclusion, equality and opportunity in Irish society. Over 50 of Ireland’s leading businesses and organisations have committed to this change.
BITCI also engages business to have a positive impact on social inclusion, diversity, disadvantage and accountability by delivering an extensive range of Employment and Education programmes. Their evidence informed programmes are tailored to help people facing discrimination and marginalisation to access labour market and education opportunities, while leveraging the expertise and resources of business. This includes one of Ireland’s only Traveller specific Employment programmes and mentoring, work experience, career insights and literacy and numeracy programmes which connect companies with local DEIS schools nationwide to positively support educational outcomes for disadvantaged communities and provide a range of volunteering opportunities. Over 2022, BITCI’s social inclusion programmes supported ~350 diverse job seekers, educational interventions for over 1,000 children and volunteering opportunities for staff across a range of organisations and sectors.
In November 2022, BITCI presented the results of their landmark study, Accelerating the Transformation – Towards a zero emissions, nature positive and inclusive society – a foundational piece of strategic research into the current state and future vision for sustainability among Irish businesses. The research was undertaken to create a roadmap to accelerate change in this decisive decade and is available to download for free on the BITCI website. The results garnered gave an extremely interesting insight into where Irish business stands now in terms of sustainable and inclusive business practices as well as offering pathways and solutions that if adopted, will move us all closer to the low carbon, inclusive society that we are striving for.
Among these insights were some real eye openers in terms of the current economic climate that companies are facing. Just over 6 in 10 (61%) organisations agree that “Without proper support organisations will be forced to prioritise survival over meeting sustainability goals” although on a much more positive note, 46% stated their organisation would sacrifice profit for the environment. Only 17% of respondents indicated that aligning investment decisions – including employee pensions – with ESG criteria was among the top 5 priorities for their organisation by 2025 while 7 in 10 organisations claim to have implemented 3rd party verified certifications/standards such as the BITCI Business Working Responsibly Mark.
Ultimately, Business in the Community Ireland bring people together because meaningful change is all about collaboration both between businesses and between society and business. Systemic change happens from within, but this takes real work including reflection, tough decisions and encouraging a new way of thinking. Business in the Community Ireland can support business making these transitions by advising, empowering and training companies, staff and leaders to understand and move forward making these much-needed changes.
For more information on how you can become a member and get involved:
Download the State of the Nation 2022 Research Report:
Accelerating the Transformation – Towards a zero emissions, nature positive and inclusive society
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