COVID-19 requires business to accelerate the transformation of sustainable development models: a new study by GSOM SPbU Corporate Social Responsibility Center
The Center for Corporate Social Responsibility of the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM) conducted new large-scale study of the best practices of responsible business in Russia. Together with the Association of Managers and with the support of SIBUR company, the “Report on Social Investments in Russia - 2019: Transforming Businesses for Sustainable Development” was prepared. The report was presented on April 10, 2020 on the online site of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.
“The sharp aggravation of global problems reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals poses new challenges for the world community and requires the transformation of strategic business priorities. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically illustrates the speed and scale of interconnected environmental, social, and economic changes that affect corporate and business strategies and all elements of corporate social activity. Under the current conditions, there is increasing attention to responsible business behavior, to the role of intra-and intersectoral interaction, as well as to reassessment of the corporate sustainability model and its transformation,” Director of the Center, Associate Professor of Strategic and International Management at GSOM SPbU, Ph.D. Yuri E. Blagov, said presenting the Report.
Over 13 years of participating in the preparation of reports on social investments, one of the flagship projects of the Association of Managers, the team of GSOM researchers has formed a unique knowledge base on the best practices of business representatives who claim to be national leaders in the field of CSR and sustainable development. The current release of the Report on Social Investments in Russia reflects a significant revival of the ecosystem of responsible business in our country, which is generally consistent with global challenges and trends. Nevertheless, the transition of companies to the current model of corporate sustainability is largely constrained by insufficient cooperation in the interests of sustainable development, mainly limited to charitable projects.
“Our report on the main trends of business transformation in the interests of sustainable development has acquired additional relevance today, since the situation faced by the business is a kind of survival test. A test for the extent to which a business is able to quickly and adequately respond to such a global crisis,” Yuri E. Blagov, said.
According to the study, in Russia there is a stable group of companies, not only considering CSR as a tool for developing an effective business, but also aware of their role in solving global problems. It is significant that more than 80% of the studied companies integrate the principles of CSR and sustainable development into their business strategies, and only 50% note that following these principles directly leads to an increase in their profitability.
“Over the past decades, the corporate sustainability model has gone through several stages of development: the first stage is the minimization of the natural and social damage that companies cause in the process of creating economic value. The second stage is the pursuit of win-win solutions that create balanced value for business and society. Today this is no longer enough: companies should be more involved in solving global problems, offsetting the costs by improving their business models, developing intra- and intersectoral cooperation,” Yuri E. Blagov, notices.
The participants in the discussion devoted to the presentation of the Report stated that the coronavirus pandemic is a relevant example of exacerbation of global problems. It requires acceleration of the already begun transformation of all areas: the interaction of business with society and the state, business in general and the behavior of each individual company.
The Corporate Social Responsibility Center was established at GSOM SPbU in 2008. Since September 2009, the Center has been supported by PricewaterhouseCoopers in Russia. The Center sees the main task in facilitating the preparation of the national managerial elite as socially responsible and oriented towards achieving constructive changes in the economy and society.
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