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Swedish, PHL companies call for responsible businesses

In Photo: League of Corporate Foundations’s Roderick de Castro (from left), Asean CSR Network’s Yanti Triwadiantini, AICHR’s Leo Herrera-Lim, National Economic and Development Authority’s Carlos Bernardo O. Abad Santos, Ambassador of Sweden Harald Fries, Ayala Corp.’s Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and ABS-CBN News Channel’s Ron Cruz

MORE than 150 business and government leaders convened at “Fostering CSR in the Philippines: Conference on Responsible Business,” a full-day confab for a joint effort to champion corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a means for companies to mitigate, as well as address, social and environmental challenges.

Organized by the Embassy of Sweden in Manila, the Asean CSR Network (ACN) and the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), the gathering was directed at driving momentum for a business community that protects not only profits, but also the people and the planet.

Among the notable speakers were Ambassador of Sweden to the Philippines Harald Fries, Asean CSR Network Chairman Yanti Triwadiantini, LCF Chairman Roderick de Castro, Ayala Corp. Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights Philippine Representative Leo Herrera-Lim, Sweden’s CSR Ambassador Diana Madunic and Labor Undersecretary Claro A. Arellano.

The convention aimed to showcase the best practices in CSR by Swedish and Filipino companies ranging from social initiatives, including farmer-empowerment programs, protection of migrant workers and initiatives to ensure communities making way for large infrastructure projects are resettled in a responsible manner, to environmental initiatives, such as sustainable packaging and waste management.

Swedish companies that shared insights included Ikea, Scania, TetraPak, Ericsson and H&M, while Filipino firms were represented by Ayala Corp., Jollibee Group, Nestlé, San Roque Power Corp., Bank of the Philippine Islands and Bato-Balani.

Apart from the private sector, presenters also comprised of leaders from the government, academe and civil-society organizations: TeaM Energy Foundation, National Economic  and Development Authority, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Fair Hiring Initiative, Asian Institute of Management, municipality of San Felipe in Zambales and Cemex Philippines Foundation.

The summit presented participants with an opportunity to understand why companies choose to operate responsibly, how they spearhead a movement in their own industries and, most important, the business case as to why more companies should follow suit.

It was also an opportunity for Sweden to share its expertise and experience in implementing a strong and comprehensive CSR business model through extensive environmental protection, active measures to respect human rights and improve workplaces, as well as fighting corruption.

Participants learned about the current trends in CSR as exemplified by successful programs by Swedish pioneers, progress made in the Philippines, common challenges faced, future trends, as well as in-depth topics, such as inclusive labor relations, inclusive supply chains and inclusive community development.

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