How to Enhance Sustainability Management in Business?

9:07:35 AM | 3/8/2022

The complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many important economic sectors of Vietnam to face enormous unpredictable challenges in 2022. As Vietnam's economy is being gradually adapted to the 'new normal', businesses need to rebuild the corporate governance foundation for sustainable development in a new way of operation.

Adopting the sustainable governance strategy, some businesses have maintained stable operations during the raging pandemic and continued to recover and develop as soon as the contagion faded. The following are experiences on sustainability management recommended by some businesses and experts.

Ms. Do Hoang Anh - Head of Legal & External Affairs, BAT East Asia Cluster

Like many other businesses impacted by COVID-19 in the world and in Vietnam, BAT has gone through two years of difficulty.

Challenges posed by COVID-19 have forced us to change and adapt to the new context and even turn risks into opportunities. To do so, we continue to invest a lot in science, utilize technology, never compromise sustainable development goals, and always put the human factor at the heart of every activity. In fact, our investment projects and sustainable development activities are still increasing steadily every year and have produced good results. Afforestation and Green City Program and Delivery with Integrity Program at BAT are prime examples of corporate governance, enabling BAT to become one of six companies in the region to be honored with the Asia Responsible Enterprise Award (AREA) 2021 - Corporate Governance Category.

BAT has developed and carried out the Sustainable Development Strategy in Vietnam to 2025 and beyond. This strategy has not changed despite the unpredictable pandemic. In addition, BAT applied the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) launched by VCCI and leading domestic and international experts as an effective management tool and a measure to gauge its sustainability.

Joining the program has also helped us to exchange information, learn popular sustainable development models and initiatives in the business community and stay ready for cooperation. In fact, at BAT Vietnam, we also have the communication vehicle to share information about our sustainable development with partners, suppliers and customers and cooperate in joint implementation.

We also realize that sustainable development, reporting systematization and standardization should be carried out on a regular basis rather than wait to attend a certain award to do it. This will save time, and most importantly, this is an important activity in the sustainability management of BAT Vietnam.

Mr. Binu Jacob, General Director of Nestlé Vietnam Company, Co-Chair of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD)

In the food and beverage sector, businesses have to face numerous difficulties and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic like contracted consumer demand, employee safety at work, redundancy and supply chain disruption. So, three main priorities of food and beverage firms during the pandemic time are involved in sustainability criteria: Employee safety, business continuity, and community support for pandemic prevention.

For Nestlé Vietnam, I believe that if we only focus on short-term benefits, we can hardly go far, but if we want to climb high and go far, sustainable development is the only way. Therefore, the purpose of Nestlé Group's activities is to optimize food roles for better life quality for everyone, today and in future generations. These commitments will enable us to achieve our goals by 2030 and help realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition, joining the Program for Benchmarking and Ranking Sustainable Businesses in Vietnam launched by VCCI-VBCSD is helpful for us. In collaboration with relevant partners, we have been working to achieve the SDGs in all markets where Nestlé operates, including in Vietnam. Through our annual sustainability reporting, we measure and evaluate how far we are making and achieving these SDGs. In order to maximize resources and ensure progress, we are currently focusing on addressing the SDGs prioritized by both Vietnam and the world: Climate action: Reducing CO2 emissions along operation and supply chains; sustainable water protection; building and shaping a zero-waste future: Leading research and development and recycling and reusing all our product packaging by 2025; and sustainable supply chain management.

Being voted a “Sustainable Business” and ranked the Top 10 manufacturing company in many years is a great honor for Nestlé Vietnam.

To meet CSI criteria, we need to have corresponding strategies and policies associated with specific performance results. Particularly, regulatory compliance is considered a basic factor. CSI also requires data and information from all parts of the company, including internal and confidential information on business and operations. We think this is difficult and challenging for first-time businesses.

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Executive Vice Chair of Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD)

CSI is an instrument to provide enterprises with effective corporate governance, sustainable development and best risk management in doing business, which has been proven in the CSI impact research report conducted and released by VBCSD-VCCI in early 2020. And the CSI application is once again proven in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, businesses that have been applying CSI to governance have better resilience against the pandemic because they have adopted risk management measures in business practices.

Second, CSI guides enterprises to do business based on social and environmental management. This approach has supported them during this pandemic time.

Third, the index also provides supply chain management solutions, greatly helping them maintain their supply chains while many industries are facing difficulties in maintaining input supply sources as well as output products.

Besides, certified sustainable enterprises hold a passport for exporting their products in the current context. Therefore, I fully believe that the recovery of companies that have been applying CSI to governance will be stronger when the pandemic is controlled. This is also a way for them to revive and develop while preserving production and business chains.

The most important feature of the CSI Index is the three-level hierarchy of indicators. M indicators are applied for micro and small businesses. C indicators are applied to medium and large enterprises and A indicators (advanced) show the construction of a business ecosystem beyond regulatory compliance to ensure sustainable business benefits for partners and other stakeholders.

Now, instead of spending a lot of time tinkering with an information “matrix”, businesses can envision a roadmap for implementation of sustainable development on a small to large scale, thus building their own business strategies and plans in line with their current capacity and future approach. This helps them, especially SMEs, reduce time and resources used for corporate governance towards sustainability.

By Vietnam Business Forum