We interviewed FIBS’ CEO Kimmo Lipponen on his views of the future of sustainable business environment.
Q: How did you come to be the CEO of FIBS – and what do you think the most important task of FIBS is?
As in most professional careers, coincidence plays a part in the assignment of interesting positions. Throughout my career, I have worked at the crossroads of different sectors, but in every role, both in business and in organisations, strategic and value-based management has always been strongly present. I learned about the interesting international field of corporate responsibility when I worked at Nokia in the late 1990s, and before FIBS I was involved in the development of the Finnish Association of Social Enterprises (ARVO).
The main task of FIBS is to help Finnish companies solve the biggest challenges of sustainable development and stay at the forefront of sustainability at the global level. Our work focuses on competence development, sharing of best practices and expert networking. We are constantly considering the best ways to help our members see how sustainable business operations impact them, be an active part of solving societal challenges and do it profitably.
Q: What kind of corporate responsibility issues are topical right now?
Responsibility is already on the agenda of all companies, both big and small. The themes under discussion are constantly becoming more diversified and deeper. The themes cover environmental responsibility from climate change to decline in natural biodiversity, social responsibility from human rights to communal diversity, and good governance. One of the large cross-cutting themes is measuring results and the commensurability of used indicators. Another theme that particularly concerns larger companies is the increasing regulation at both national and EU level.
“Make bold choices. No one knows any better than you how to deal with today’s responsibility issues.”
Q: Responsibility and sustainability have become part of the corporate strategy and the government agenda. In your opinion, what is the role of the Board of Directors and senior management in promoting responsibility?
I believe that the biggest problems for our planet and well-being can be solved through sustainable business methods. It is not easy, and what is needed from the outset is exceptional courage and strong moral leadership on the part of company management. A changing economic system requires, above all, flexibility and the ability to respond to new opportunities, new innovations, transformative partnerships and empathy in the face of inevitable failures. The most important task of the Board of Directors and senior management is to include responsibility issues in all core business operations and to support the other employees of the company in the face of this new and multidimensional task.
Q: How do you see corporate responsibility work evolving in the coming years? How will this change be reflected in the activities of FIBS?
Companies are increasingly strategic, goal-oriented and organised in their corporate responsibility activities. Goal-orientedness is necessary, because solving the major global challenges, such as the climate crisis, the decline of natural biodiversity and the increase in inequality, requires the same systematicity and innovation that business is already accustomed to. At FIBS, we want to continue to support our members’ pioneership in the future, and we will focus even more on combining responsibility and business on a practical level. We will develop the professionalism of corporate responsibility for the needs of the 2030s and actively promote systemic change to solve major sustainability challenges.
Kimmo Lipponen’s five tips for corporate responsibility: