By Kirsty McManus, National Director, Institute of Directors (IoD) Northern Ireland
At the beginning of each new year, many of us take the decision to adopt resolutions, seizing the opportunity for a clean slate and a fresh start.
And as we set ourselves new ambitious goals and objectives in our personal lives, it is important that we, as business leaders, also take stock of how we and the organisations we represent are impacting others – our staff, wider society, the economy and the environment we live in.
The strive to act more sustainably, and in a manner that is sound from an environmental and societal point of view, is currently high on the agenda.
But adhering to strong Environmental, Social and Governance standards isn’t just something we should strive for, nor is it anything new.
Some of us are further along the path than others, but we can each agree it is not easy to change long-established practices, now considered out of kilter with the goal of achieving sustainability.
Thankfully, we don’t have to look far for inspiration.
Take for example, world-renowned ethologist and activist Dr Jane Goodall DBE, whose incredible career spanning nearly six decades has touched almost every aspect of life in communities and economies across the globe.
Best known for her ground-breaking studies of wild chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, Dr Goodall forever changed our understanding of our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.
Her work has had a profound and continuing influence on science, and has of course raised awareness of the impact humanity has and is still making on the natural world.
Dr Goodall’s focus on conservation and animal welfare has been community-led, while her Roots and Shoots education programme empowering young people to act is established in every corner of the earth in more than 60 countries.
And she is speaking to us too. Anybody who has ever listened to her speak, or read one of her articles, will know Dr Goodall does not shy away from challenging business leaders on our responsibilities.
Questions around whether the work we are doing is harming the environment, do we fully understand our supply chains, how and where materials are sourced, are we (and those we partner with) paying fair wages, among many others.
I have no doubt her questions will continue to resonate when Dr Goodall addresses our Women’s Leadership Conference in March.
By learning from the examples set by others, we can appreciate the impact of adopting sustainable habits and behaviours, no matter how small, as we and our businesses make our mark on the world.