Sustainable businesses?

Department of Finance invite each year board members and CEOs of state owned companies to a half-day board conference on different current topics. Today this year’s conference was held at Dramaten (Royal Dramatic Theatre) on the pressing issue of ”Sustainable business” with prominent guests as Al Gore, David Blood, and Petter Stordalen, and an introduction by Minister of Market Finance, Peter Norman.

According to the Swedish state’s definition of ”sustainable business” it includes how companies work with human rights, employment conditions, environment, anti-corruption, business ethics, diversity, and equality.

And apparently all of us board members in different state-owned boards are doing an excellent job.

This was pointed out by all speakers, with the exception of Petter Stordalen, who eagerly and passionately was claiming that we could all start our sustainable work today. Now! But for the rest it was more of a clap on the shoulder and reassurances that ”you are all doing such a good job!” looking out of the audience.

”I am happy with the support I get from the state”, two of the participants in the last panel claimed. With a cosy self-confidence the two CEOs answered the moderator’s questions on how they work sustainable, challenges they meet and how they solve them, and if they are satisfied with the support from their owner, the state. And they are happy with the support, both reassured.

And you wonder how is that possible?

How is it possible to scratch each other’s backs and claim satisfaction, when companies in the world, which also includes Swedish companies (state and privately owned), are still violating human rights? When climate goals are not reached? When children are used in child labour? When textile workers die in Bangladesh due to lousy working conditions? When women and children are sexually abused?

Shouldn’t the questions instead be: What are we all doing wrong? What is it we are NOT doing so that these violations can continue? What is it we are NOT doing but SHOULD do to fulfill the ambitions with sustainable business?

 

Leave a Reply