Sustainability has long ceased to be just a buzzword. It is also not something that should be left to Governments and organizations that deal directly with it as a core activity but should be embraced also by businesses as a contribution towards their bottom line. After all, a struggling earth will leave struggling communities in its wake and that is not a conducive environment in which to do business. Businesses can make money by resolving deep rooted societal, economic, and environmental challenges.
Environmental preservation is not just for ourselves but for the sake of future generations. In the famous words of environmentalist David R. Brower which were today quoted by Absa Kenya MD Jeremy Awori, ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’. Jeremy was speaking at the launch of Absa’s Sustainability Commitment Report in which the bank committed to focus its efforts on delivering the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit in all its strategies, products and propositions.
Companies have done a lot through CSR and this is a good thing. But by the very nature, CSR programs tend to be time capped and sometimes short lived. To make sustainability more impactful though, there is need for businesses to bake it into their strategies and be mindful of it in all their operations on a daily basis.
In the report which can be found online here, Absa outlined some of the ways in which this commitment will be brought to fruition and here are a few examples.
Partnerships and collaborations
Collaboration is the new leadership. Through partnerships with other organizations that are aligned to Absa’s corporate strategy and global goals, the bank intends to embed sustainability in four operational pillars. Stakeholder communication and reporting, corporate social investment, new and existing memberships and capabilities, and business and enterprise functions initiatives.
Aligning the SDGs with corporate strategies
Absa recognizes that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals are crucial towards wholesome growth of societies and businesses. It also supports the implementation of all of them. The bank has however zeroed in on four high impact goals for primary focus and these are quality education, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production.
Absa is well aware of the fact that it cannot reach its financial goals without the involvement of the youth. Hence the Ready To Work Program, a finishing school to equip graduates with knowledge that they may not have come across in their books and lecture halls. Ready To Work is a wholesome online curriculum that adds a layer of preparedness to graduates as they join the work and entrepreneurial environments. People skills, work skills, entrepreneurship skills and money skills.
One of Absa’s biggest commitment towards environmental sustainability is the planned planting of 10 Million trees in the next 5 years. This will play a big role in the country’s goal of achieving 10% tree cover.
Other than planting trees, the bank is already on the ground running in other ways. For example, all of their used computers are refurbished and distributed to 66 institutions across the country. Metal waste has been repurposed to make hands free hand sanitizer dispensers, and all billboard flexis from the rebranding have been repurposed into school bags which will be distributed to school children.
We all have a responsibility to safeguard our environment. Individuals should play their part and businesses which have more financial and operational muscle should certainly play a much bigger part and Absa is leading the way by launching and actualizing this report.