On the eve of this year’s Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) Summit — themed Reimagining Businesses for Resilience — we speak to GCNS president Goh Swee Chen, a global leader who has led significant businesses in oil and gas, consumer goods and IT sectors, about a principles-based approach to doing business.
What is corporate sustainability?
Corporate sustainability is about conducting business with a conscience — a mindset that businesses can only truly prosper when communities are uplifted and natural resources are used responsibly. Given the complex, disruptive world we live in today, businesses can no longer afford to operate with the mindset of solely maximising profits for shareholders. Rather, businesses are realising the benefit of making investment and operational decisions with the whole of society’s resources in mind.
What excites you most in a summit setting?
Conferences can rally mindset shifts, which is key to transformation towards sustainable behaviours. I am excited when everyone is inspired to grab the proverbial bull by its horns: to effect change for issues that matter collectively to people, profits and the planet, as well as to pursue the specific UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that mean most to them and their businesses. When we put our hearts and minds together for collective action, we create an irresistible wave of positive impact.
What makes a good leader exceptional?
When I was at Proctor & Gamble, I frequently travelled to Cincinnati. During one of these trips, I chanced upon a quote: “One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in or how much money was in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child.” An exceptional leader is committed to building a better future, not just for himself or herself, but also for others.
Why do private companies and individual citizens need to step up and catalyse change?
The buck stops here. Producing and consuming responsibly are no longer “good to have” optional behaviours, but necessary and immediate lifestyle changes we need to make. Consumers and the private sector producers are the twin engines powering the economy. All of us can and have to play a proactive role in shaping the world we want to live in.
GCNS is the Singapore chapter of the United Nations Global Compact. Book your tickets to GCNS Summit 2019 on 12 November at summit.unglobalcompact.sg