Home Agenda SM accelerates the sustainable development program | Business Seeker

SM accelerates the sustainable development program | Business Seeker



For a growing number of companies, sustainability is more than just a buzzword or a compliance burden. They recognize that it is imperative for the long term survival of humanity itself and that they must take action.

It will certainly make a big difference if every business, big or small, is committed to being a responsible steward of this planet and the resources it gives us, for the benefit of future generations.

In this email interview, the President and CEO of SM Investments Corp. Frederic DyBuncio and SM consultant for investor relations and sustainability Timothy Daniels explained how the country’s most valuable conglomerate is responding to the sustainability imperative.

1. What motivates the initiatives of most companies to adopt sustainable development? What about SM?

Dybuncio: For over 60 years now, we’ve been working alongside our supply chain partners, communities and individuals to try to create a positive impact and drive sustained growth for our stakeholders. In recent years, we have stepped up our sustainability efforts by focusing on climate action and creating greener options for our customers.

Daniels: Many companies have long embraced social responsibility and there has been an increase in mandatory reporting for listed companies in recent years. There has also been a wave of expectations from investors, employees and customers to incorporate sustainable practices into the way business is done, especially environmental priorities. Leading companies also see sustainability as part of their long-term strategic thinking and how to assess their risks and opportunities.

In the case of SM, our founder, Henry Sy Sr., always believed that social development and business growth went hand in hand. We have also made efforts to bring our private sector peers together by hosting Sustainability Summits to create a more collaborative community to achieve the larger sustainability agenda. This is still aligned with the original principles of our founder.

2. How can large companies, like SM, influence the small companies in its ecosystem (partners, suppliers) to follow the sustainability agenda?

Dybuncio: We are continually looking for ways to be more sustainable in the way we operate and we bring our partners with us. We are fortunate that SM started as a small business and has grown alongside our partners. From the beginning, we have believed in building long term relationships with our partners and have a symbiotic relationship with them in growth opportunities.

Timothy daniels

Daniels: We have developed strong and trusted business relationships: learning, innovating and relearning things together. Since we embarked on our own journey of integrating sustainability into the way we do business, we have also been able to engage with our many partners throughout the process, helping them take action as well. We work with them to set standards on customer safety, environmental compliance, and ethical practices, for example. In recent years, we have also engaged with them on how to adapt to digital platforms and new customer needs, and have also provided them with access to finance amid the effects of the pandemic.

For example, at Kultura we work with many suppliers who revalue materials like Crafts for a Cause or Malagos Chocolates, which promotes the sustainable cultivation of cocoa. Thus, we help these social enterprises to enter the mainstream market.

In the future, we want to work with our suppliers to create more products, services and even packaging that offer greener and more affordable choices for our customers.

3. What are the deliverables of SM in the coming years in terms of ESG measures (environmental, social and governance)?

Dybuncio: We are addressing both our climate adaptability by building the resilience of our cities and communities, and climate change mitigation by doing our part in reducing our emissions. Our real estate group is committed to increasing the use of renewable energies to 50% by 2022.

We want to make green products more accessible and affordable for our customers. It means starting with our supplier partners – working with them on how they can build sustainability into the way they work and tailor sustainable choices through customer campaigns.

We continue to support our communities by giving them access to basic services such as inclusive education, health care and training of farmers for food security. This will help bridge the social inequality gap, especially for the most vulnerable members of our society.

4. How has COVID-19 affected the ESG agenda?

Dybuncio: Unlike COVID-19, climate change is longer term and has more catastrophic effects. Companies now have a better understanding of how ESG integration plays a practical role in a company’s long-term strategy, mitigating risks and identifying underlying opportunities.

Daniels: COVID-19 has shown the kind of impact global issues can have on business and daily life, and it got us all thinking about other issues, not least of which is the climate change emergency . The pandemic has illustrated how interconnected we are all and how business risks include ESG issues, which may not have been considered as relevant before. Many companies are broadening their thinking and understanding of their responsibilities and examining the scope of their risk mitigation measures. It has also proven how effective we can be when we act collaboratively to achieve our common goals.

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We also now see the essential role of leadership in driving the sustainability agenda – from the board level to management, permeating every member of the organization. It must be instilled in the very culture and consciousness of the organization.

Finally, we do not operate in silos within the organization and we cannot operate alone as a business. We are all interconnected. As such, the concept of shared value has become more real and tangible.

5. What other global best practices do you plan to adopt within the group?

Daniels: We want to benchmark all of our projects against global best practices and standards, whether it’s consumer information, new technology opportunities, real estate developments, bank lending practices, or other initiatives. . The world is starting to step up in the search for solutions to climate change in particular. We recently joined the Global Climate-Related Financial Disclosure Working Group (TCFD) framework which guides us towards best practices and their implementation.

We join over 2,300 supporters in demonstrating our commitment to building a more resilient financial system and protecting ourselves against climate risk through better disclosures. Adopting these recommendations contributes to more effective climate-related disclosures. These could promote more informed investments and, in turn, enable stakeholders to better understand the financial system’s exposure to climate-related risks.

6. How are you training the next generation to follow the ESG agenda?

It starts with our people, who want to be more informed. So we have developed our own unique and comprehensive SM Sustainability School of short, enjoyable online modules, based on the best expert thoughts in a very applied way. This gives our employees easy access to certification and allows them to learn and integrate sustainable development practices, regardless of their role in the company. It is available free to our employees and is supported by multimedia and regular blogs, articles and even how-to updates.

We also have the SM Green Movement, part of which focuses on promoting a green lifestyle for our employees by sharing ideas and encouraging our employees to reflect on their own personal and professional practices. We have a very active group of our own SM Green Ambassadors among our employees, who share ideas and serve as examples to others.

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