Giuseppe van der Helm
Giuseppe van der Helm serves as Managing Director of the Sustainable Development Investment Association (Vereniging van Beleggers voor Duurzame ontwikkeling (VBDO)) and as Chairman of Eurosif.
For the last two years, VBDO has organised a stakeholder forum for Royal BAM Group.
Why is the BAM stakeholder forum important?
‘Exploring options to make an organisation sustainable always centres around the same two cornerstones: transparency and communication with stakeholders. Transparency is absolutely vital in engaging stakeholders in dialogue. Without it there is nothing to discuss. Besides, transparency results in trust. Organisations have to account for the use of resources out of society and cannot ignore the common good. In addition, they can contribute solutions to today’s social problems as no other can. Operational excellence comes nearer when they use the expertise of all relevant stakeholders. Stakeholders can be of help in focusing on a company’s core business. In this way, groups – even those with opposing interests – can enhance and reinforce each other substantially.’
What were the key outcomes of the 2011 BAM stakeholder forum?
‘They were keenly aware of the tremendous work already being done to promote project level cooperation between BAM employees and suppliers. Success requires non-traditional alliances and out of the box thinking as this leads to a new way of working and cooperating. The need for a clearer and more proactive positioning of the sustainable services and options BAM has to offer was also one of the outcomes. BAM can further promote loyalty, by exploring what end users want and need, offering long-term solutions that focus on sustainability. BAM management takes an active part in the dialogue in an open manner, and welcomes constructive criticism. This clearly demonstrates that BAM takes account of its people and operations and the company’s engagement with the environment.’
What are the trends in CSR according to VBDO?
‘CSR is an increasingly important part of corporate strategy. After all, strategic thinking is also a matter of thinking over the long term, which at some point will definitely lead you to CSR. It becomes an embedded part of the strategy, which is precisely what it should be. It motivates you to see things differently, set goals, see the results it generates and measures the effects. Being profitable is possible with CSR, as carrying out sustainable solutions will improve a company’s competitiveness. Although CSR issues are not equally tangible, in the future, I expect objectives such as CO₂ emissions and employee satisfaction will also become quantifiable while adding a financial component to them.’
How important is having a frame of reference?
‘It is absolutely essential. While rankings offer an opportunity to see where companies are placed (i.e. who tops the list in the line of business), it is more interesting to look at a the method used for the ranking. It is not always clear how CSR is defined. VBDO makes contribution towards this discussion, it generates a benchmark and facilitates the sharing of best practice.’