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Lord Hastings urges CEOs to catalyse change

At the ACCA KPMG CEO Breakfast Meeting held recently, Global Head of Corporate Citizenship and Diversity of KPMG International Lord Michael Hastings presented a challenging set of themes that he said will disturb the comfort zones we are used to.

Speaking on 'Corporate Citizenship and Diversity in the Modern Enterprise', Lord Hastings said the impacts of our actions have the uncomfortable reality of attacking each and every one of us in the safest places.


Lord Michael Hastings speaking on ‘Corporate Citizenship and Diversity in the Modern Enterprise’.

"Whether it's the countless numbers of natural disasters countries are subjected to, the diseases and pandemics that rise, the conflicts that are prevalent the world over or the lack of access to education, healthcare and development which is required for social equality for the poorer countries, it is our actions collectively that are ultimately responsible for it," Lord Hastings said.

When the figure of US $1 trillion was requested in the USA some decades ago to help the earth's social and environmental malaise, whether it was in sourcing alternative energy sources, better healthcare or need for education, Lord Hastings reminded the CEOs that, the answer from business was that they could not find the resources for those funds. But when their businesses faced the crisis, as it did 12 months ago, the same amount of US $1 trillion was found in no time.

So when will we deal with the day of reckoning? I think the day of reckoning has come sooner than later. The heart of the matter is that we have spent a generation pretending today would not come. He urged the CEOs to take an example from veteran banker, Chairman of City National Bank of Florida Leonard Abess, who not only grew the bank into a million dollar business entity but similarly, shared those profits with his stakeholders. "In an environment of challenge, individuals can make a difference."

How do we respond to the challenges, we need to ask ourselves three questions, one what is my decision as an individual on the issues facing us today, two what should my organization's response be, do we savour our savings or invest in our communities for the future and third how can we collectively change the model that has brought us to the brim?

At the end of the day, all of humanity shares a common fate on a very crowded planet. We face a choice, continue the course or take the opportunity to change. At the same time we have to address this change. Cease being cynical, address the issues facing the world's poorest nations and learn to share common resources.

While every business should be proud of doing exceptionally well and making profit, the ultimate test is about the long term impacts of those financial returns.

"Become an active participant in the solution. Values are the core of a sound and responsible organisation, be committed towards communities and use energy towards a more sustainable future. We have to change our economic model for the better with transparency and accountability. Take the opportunity to shape the world," Lord Hastings added.

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