This interview is by our new Melbourne ambassador Deb Itzkowic aka @debitz.
Ben is not your ordinary recruiter. Originally hailing from the UK, he has over 10 years experience working in the ever-growing sector of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Now based in Melbourne, Ben is working with pb Human Capital in this emerging sector in Australia. Ben’s role is to be across the movers and shakers in the Australian sustainability and CSR sector, to connect the dots and find talented people that can influence change. He explains that what leading companies are looking for today in the area of CSR are environmentally minded strategic thinkers, people who can influence how companies are run from the inside.
So what exactly is ‘sustainability’ and CSR?
CSR and ‘sustainability’ are interchangeable terms that describe a company’s commitment to operate using ethical and sustainable business practices. Ben explains that embracing sustainability provides companies with an opportunity to operate commercially viable businesses and at the same time be responsible global citizens.
Why are companies embracing CSR today?
The drivers for companies embracing sustainability and CSR are threefold. Firstly, there is the obvious compliance ‘stick’, for example the introduction of the carbon trading scheme which legislates standards that companies must meet in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. Secondly, there is the ‘carrot’, being commercial success, for example increased profit due to reduced energy usage or other intangible outcomes such as staff retention or brand awareness. Finally, there is consumer demand for companies to embrace these changes, which in Ben’s experience is not as pressing in Australia as overseas.
What is happening in the Australian sustainability market?
Ben explains that while this sector has been up and running overseas, especially in Europe and America, Australia is just now beginning to catch up.
Although social and environmental risk management has always been on the agenda, leading companies today are embracing corporate social responsibility in a whole new way and incorporating these ideas, such as sustainability, into their core business.
Ben cites Telstra’s digital inclusion program (ensuring that rural and remote communities have access to the internet) as one example of a strategy that assists local communities while at the same time provides Telstra with valuable commercial outcomes (such as brand awareness).
How can I become involved in the CSR sector?
Ben recommends degrees in environmental science and business strategy are a good place to start. An alternative route is to work within the organisation you are already a part of to influence how it operates for example, by recycling office paper and reducing carbon emissions, to giving employees opportunities to contribute to the community, to ensuring that your company implements an ethical supply chain.
Tell us about your commitment to carbon neutral travel…
Ben doesn’t just talk the talk, he also does his bit to reduce carbon emissions by riding the streets of Melbourne to and from work each day. I asked him what is his favourite bike accessory? The resounding answer is: ‘lights – great for vision at night’.