The new SSE Riga Sustainable Business Centre will ensure the creation of a sustainable business environment in Baltic
The Sustainable Business Centre activities will cover Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
"More and more research and experience stories of companies with certainty manifest that good works pay off. The sustainable business centre is being established in order to study and promote this aspect of business. By bringing the sustainability dimension into the agenda of Latvian companies we hope to strengthen the competitiveness of Latvia in general," says Anders Paalzow, Rector of SSE Riga, adding that one of the most important tasks of the centre will be to provide companies with a methodology of corporate social responsibility (CSR) applicable in the real business environment.
Maija Kāle, SSE Riga Sustainable Business Centre Coordinator, admits that social responsibility has become as a tool of integral risk management and business growth in many European companies. "CSR is not just a PR tool, as it is usually considered. Customers, employees, cooperation partners evaluate not only the direct activities of the company even more strictly, but also its influence on society in general," explains SSE Riga Sustainable Business Centre Coordinator Maija Kāle.
She emphasises that the mechanisms which make the CSR a competitive incentive, are broadly described by theoretical literature and international research. Thus, for example, it was established that CSR integration in the business strategy of the company, involvement of different groups of interests allows the companies to create new products and discover new business areas. The task of the sustainable business centre will be to open the door to these areas of knowledge in order for Baltic employers to be able to understand and use the benefits for their advantage.
The centre will work in the area of research, training and popularizing the sustainable activities. If, so far, several organizations and companies have been actively operating in Latvia, showing their good business practice and thus popularizing the sustainability principles in their business practice, then, thanks to the opening of the centre, an additional important step forward will be made – one of the direction of activities of the centre will be to thoughtfully integrate CSR in study programmes or SSE Riga Bachelor's and Master's levels. Thanks to the financial support provided by SEB for the creation of SSE Riga Sustainable Business Centre, the centre will cooperate with the leading local and international experts in addition to the theoretical and research work.
"At SEB, corporate sustainability means developing and creating your business in such a way that not only tomorrow, but also after ten and a hundred years we as an organization would be well managed and operate upon the basic principles of transparency in order that the environment, where our children and grandchildren will live, would be as green and beautiful as it is today, and in the end local society would live in a secure environment. Today we have clear governance structure for CSR issues in each Baltic country, so that we can run a variety of social projects and base our actions on principles of good business management which are evaluated by our customers and experts. We believe that today we are building the future and with the Opening of Business Sustainability Centre we will strengthen the sustainable business environment in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia," said David Teare, Head of Baltic's Division of SEB, upon signing the cooperation agreement for 3 years.
As we know, the proportion of shadow economy and corruption are indicators of at least some degree showing the maturity of society within the context of CSR. This is why, still in 2012, the centre has planned to implement Baltic level research on the sustainability of business activities as well as set the second index of shadow economy*, providing a real picture on the proportion of grey economy in Baltic States. Organizing a variety of educational and CSR awareness building events is also planned.
* The First Index of Shadow Economy was prepared on 2011. The full Report of the SSE Riga "Shadow Economy Index" for the Baltic countries is available on SSE Riga
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09:51 EEST 20.04.2014