This week NCD and ecoDa collaborated and put together an extensive program on Corporate Social Responsibility in the Boardroom: Disruptive Thoughts, Entrepreneurial Action!. The kick-off was an invitation to open the AEX on Monday. The NCD board and advisory board travelled to Amsterdam for the bell ceremony. A remarkable start to a special week!

On Tuesday NCD members and guests attended the recently opened Circular Economy Expo in Haarlemmermeer where they received a tour of the location. A unique opportunity to visit the action driven, pragmatic expo that will only operate on this location for 1,5 years. The Netherlands Circular Hotspot (Annerieke Douma), Circle Economy (Shyaam Ramkumar), FrieslandCampina (Jan Willem Straatsma), Interface (Geanne van Arkel), Fairphone (Daria Koreniushkia) and Allen&Overy (Christiaan de Brauw) gave the participants some valuable insights and examples of their approach to circular economy and social entrepreneurship. You can download the presentation here.
In the evening a pre-conference dinner took place at Landgoed Duin & Kruidberg for the board and advisory board of the NCD, ecoDa and (international) guests from member organizations.

Wednesday May 25th the 18th European Corporate Governance Conference took place at Landgoed Duin & Kruidberg, the big high light of the week where over 150 (international) directors and non-executive directors came together to discuss sustainability. European Commissioner Vera Jourova officially opened the Conference with a video message. Followed by opening presentations from ecoDa Chair Turid Solvang who compared CSR to teenage sex (everyone talks about it but very few are actually doing it) and NCD vice president Sonja Schasfoort who asked the audience the ‘what if’ question.

Peter Bakker (Chair of WBCSD) was the next in line. “CSR is DEAD! Sustainability is alive and…needs serious help. Today!”, he said. He urges to take the global Sustainable Development Goals seriously: “Every country is a development country according to these SDGs”. He pointed to new standards that will challenge green washing. Are companies really sustainable? “The system is BROKEN. Massive change is needed. Profit kills People and Planet”. Leaders will need NEW skills. Sustainability should be in your company DNA! Everything in governance will change between now and five years. His presentation can be downloaded here.

Departing director of CSR Netherlands and inspiration speaker today, Willem Lageweg took today’s event as the opportunity to present the Green Deal report on corporate transparency to NCD President Ron Steenkuijl and ecoDa Chair Turid Solvang. The report can be downloaded here.

“Money is my weapon of change”, said Richard Kooloos (Director Sustainable Banking ABN AMRO) who offered the audience some practical examples of how the bank operates with sustainability at the heart of the company. “ABNAMRO will integrate sustainability. Like we did with the Sustainable Investment Tool Real Estate. Sustainability starts with Leadership! At home and in your company. Employees are much more proud if you are a sustainable company”. His presentation can be downloaded here.

Richard Howitt (Member European Parliament) gave a speech on CSR from the perspective of European Parliament. “CSR is really happening! Since 2008 all major companies are forced to report on social responsibility”. “Forget the old mind set. It is long term value creation and that needs sustainable business. All the way”. “Take responsibility for your supply chain. Otherwise you will be out of business soon”, he said to the audience.

Next up was Paul Koster (VEB). “Even at the Shell shareholders meeting yesterday, 80% was on sustainability issues”, Paul Koster said. “Radical changes are, from the perspective of shareholders, unreal. We need a step by step approach with this Green Transition”. “The Green Train might derail if it is not done properly. Involvement of and reporting to Shareholders is imminent to succeed!”

Jan Peter Balkenende (Partner EY) opened the afternoon sessions with a call for urgency on sustainability. Entrepreneurship is key to real changes. CSE is not business as usual! Rethink your business model: start reinventing! The Business of Business is Business: creating long term societal value is NEW Business on top of that. About companies giving back after making a profit he said: How did you reach your profits? At the expense of what? You better think about the goal AND the way. High sustainable companies are even MORE profitable than low sustainable companies! Integrated reporting is a MUST. Not only financial reporting, but also the non financial issues. Moral sense goes hand in hand with economic goals. Start acting, respect values!

Peter Borgdorff (Eumedion) shared his views on pension funds and developments in CSR. Pension Funds are not really progressive. Therefore the change in thinking from ‘nice to have ‘ to ‘must do’ is even more impressive. Pension Funds are constantly working on the future and are now having a real discussion on their responsibility in society. We are responsible for the long term as well. The money of Pension Funds is decisive for change!

Next to the speeches of the opinion leaders, the morning and the afternoon also had inspiration sessions by Jeroen Hooijer (EU), Kathelijne Drenth (The Twelve), Lodewijk de Waal (NCP OECD), Willem Lageweg (CSR Netherlands / MVO Nederland), Willem van Hassel (Nationaal Register), Guido Braam (Circular Economy), Lutgart van den Berghe (Guberna), Sjoerd Kamerbeek (Van Doorne N.V.), Stef van Dongen (Enviu), and Susanne Stormer (Novo Nordisk). Sessions in which the speakers showed participants how you go from talking about CSR to doing: Corporate Social Entrepreneurship. They gave some insight in their companies’ DNA. In between examples of successful Social Entrepreneurs such as Seepje, Food2Smile and Better Future Factory were presented with a short video clip.

After the last two rounds of inspiration sessions the Conference was rounded up with the joint support of a CSE Manifest. NCD board member Jan Wesseldijk had the honours to, together with this manifesto, pass on the EU Presidency to Roman Buzek, the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic for the second half of the year. It is now to Slovakia to keep the CSR flame burning! The Manifesto can be downloaded here.

We would like to thank everyone for their participation. Here you can take a look at the first few photos. But also in the next edition of our magazine LeadershipNL we will address the subject. Stay tuned!