New list to recognise top 25 firms in Asia-Pacific with sustainable business goals

Mr Rajeev Peshawaria, CEO of Stewardship Asia Centre, which promotes effective stewardship and governance across Asia. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Profitability is no longer the only goal of businesses in the 21st century as the world faces environmental challenges and income inequality.

The challenge for leaders and businesses is to be profitable while making positive contributions to the environment and improving the well-being of the society, said Mr Rajeev Peshawaria, chief executive officer of Stewardship Asia Centre (SAC), a non-profit organisation promoting effective stewardship and governance across Asia.

In the light of this, an annual list to recognise the top 25 companies in Asia-Pacific that pursue sustainable goals will be launched on March 31.

Called the Steward Leadership 25 (SL25), the list will highlight companies that have demonstrated excellence in steward leadership.

Steward leadership refers to the "desire and persistence to create a collective better future" where companies address either social, or environment and climate issues.

The list is jointly launched by SAC, graduate business school Insead's Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society - which works to align the school with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals - together with advisory firm WTW and The Straits Times.

"The better future is not just for shareholders, but also for other stakeholders like employees, the society and future generations," said Mr Rajeev.

The four core stewardship values are interdependence, long-term view, ownership mentality and creative resilience.

Interdependence is when business leaders see the world and companies as interconnected, where the success of individual companies is connected to the success of society or their employees.

Long-term view is the willingness to forego some short-term goals for long-term sustainability, while ownership mentality refers to every individual within the companies taking on the responsibility to help create a sustainable future.

The last core value, creative resilience, is the ability to come up with profitable solutions to challenges like climate change.

Stressing the importance of steward leadership in companies, Mr Rajeev said that no company or organisation can create success goals only for itself.

"If you don't take care of other areas like the society, future generations and the environment, you're not going to succeed because we're now all interconnected," he said.

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An annual list to recognise the top 25 companies in Asia-Pacific that pursue sustainable goals will be launched on Thursday (March 31), known as the Steward Leadership 25 (SL25).

Today's consumers also have access to information like never before, and prioritise sustainable businesses more, Mr Rajeev said.

"We believe that all companies, regardless of size, are able to practise steward leadership. In Singapore, social enterprises like cafe Foreword Coffee and local brands like coffee and toast chain Ya Kun are examples of businesses that are practising steward leadership," said Mr Rajeev.

The SL25 launch will be part of the Stewardship Asia Roundtable 2022, which will be held at Equarius Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa on March 31. Business social responsibility and investment stewardship developments will be discussed at the roundtable that comprises participants from around the world, mainly from the Asia-Pacific region.

The speakers for the event include Mr Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, executive director and chief executive of Temasek, Professor Arnoud De Meyer, chairman of SAC, and Mr Patrick Daniel, director of SPH Media Trust.

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