Vagaská: Customers have power to push businesses to be more responsible

Companies should be actively engaged in environmental protection.

Ivana Vagaská, executive director of the Business Leaders Forum (BLF) Ivana Vagaská, executive director of the Business Leaders Forum (BLF) (Source: Courtesy of BLF)

Read in this interview:

-How the perception of CSR has changed in Slovakia

-Whether pursuing CSR means a lower profit for a company

-What new business opportunities the fight against climate change can bring

-What the most interesting findings of a survey focused on CSR are

-What the challenges and plans of the Business Leaders Forum are

In the 1990s and early 2000s, companies understood corporate responsibility as donating a small portion of their profit to those less fortunate. Corporate responsibility has since become a part of the way companies do their business throughout the world, including Slovakia. Such a transition does not necessarily result in less profit for companies.

Contrary to this, companies should see the challenges humankind is facing as new business opportunities, said Ivana Vagaská, who took over from Michal Kišša as executive director of the Business Leaders Forum (BLF) in late December 2019.

The Slovak Spectator spoke with Vagaská about current corporate social responsibility (CSR) trends, where a company should start when focusing on CSR systematically and more.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What is your definition of CSR?

Ivana Vagaská (IV): There are several definitions of CSR. The European Commission defines it as enterprises taking a responsibility for their impact on society by making an effort to maximise their positive impact and minimise their negative one. Nevertheless, we at the BLF work with a wider definition relating to all the departments of a company, present in its everyday decisions, which are not detached from its business. This means that companies, when achieving profit, respect the expectations and needs of all their partners, with whom they are in contact when doing their business, i.e. employees, clients, business partners, suppliers, competition, the public administration, the government, but also the local community and environment.

TSS: With what ambitions did you take over as BLF executive director?

IV: As the team leader for CSR at the Pontis Foundation, I was in charge of strategies and the programme of BLF activities for the last two years. Thus, from this point of view my appointment has not changed the BLF leadership structure and helps us fulfill our motto: we educate, connect and inspire in order to make business worthwhile. BLF will keep being a networking platform with a vision to achieve sustainable growth via responsible entrepreneurship. We don’t stick to vague terms, but we are delivering functional content to our members. This means that we are opening concrete topics companies need to tackle and which resonate in society. It is necessary that companies do not exist isolated from society, but get involved in handling these topics. Thus, our members can share best practices while we get inspiration from our external environment and support companies to implement concrete solutions.

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