20. 01. 2015 Corporate responsibility

Companies in Slovakia want more transparency and responsible business

Business Leaders Forum has already been working for 10 years in Slovakia. The association focus on CSR and prosperity of Slovakia.

The effect of companies in the world is growing and people’s confidence in them is also growing, while belief in politicians wanes. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer survey 58% of people trusted companies, but for governments it was 14% less. Up to 32 companies associated in the Slovak Business Leaders Forum (BLF) linked the Pontis Foundation recently adopted a memorandum, in which they agreed to contribute to the prosperity of Slovakia.

Companies in the Business Leaders Forum declare that they will:

  • to study and evaluate the social, ethical and environmental impact of its business and strive for a positive impact on society and the environment;
  • improve lives and build relationships with its partners: employees, customers, suppliers, communities and other entities in partnership with each other, and to use dialogue, promoting       diversity and respect for human rights;
  • solve social and environmental problems with innovative solutions and offering social products and services that deliver value for business and society;
  • to have a management culture based on ethics, transparency and reporting activities;
  • contribute to addressing local, national and European social and business topics, such as adaptation to climate chance and sustainability of jobs, education for work and active aging, predictability in the regulatory environment and the integration of marginalized groups.

“In Slovakia there is more and more awareness around charity and philanthropy. The large impact it has, is also how firms businesses operate whether it be towards their employees, suppliers, customers or how it cares for the environment. It means that whether it considers the impact of its business activity,” explains Beata Hlavčáková director of BLF and program director at the Pontis Foundation. Larger companies in Slovakia often behave like their parent companies abroad. “It is part of their values and common DNA,” added Beata Hlavčáková. On the other hand, often responsible activities and projects of companies in Slovakia are ‘exported’ to other countries.

Companies join in fight against corruption

Many of the companies associated with BLF, but also beyond, support the fight against big corruption and for the better functioning of the state support a watchdog and analytical organisations through Fund for a Transparent Slovakia. Firms in Slovakia await in the coming years many challenges – whether it is adaptation to climate change, more innovation in business for sustainable products and challenges in the field of employee motivation. Surveys from the past few years show, that for employees personal evaluation, open and transparent communication are more important than benefits. Business will continue to focus on the theme of active acting, the development of green jobs and alternative transport, youth education, active aging and integration of excluded groups.

How is responsible business reflected within firms?

Heineken adapting to climate change

Extreme weather fluctuations, which in recent years has been brought by climate change are unable to be stopped only slowed down. How can firms respond to the changing conditions? Heineken Slovakia, for example, in co-operation with Slovak producers of barley for the beer industry supports the production of the so-called winter barley, which doesn’t mind colder weather.

T-Systems educating young people for work

Young people are not ready to work and jobs in companies. In schools there is too much theory being taught, and not enough practical training. Many companies therefore promote or directly establish training centres in schools or students have the opportunity to attend in part courses in companies and receive much needed training. T-Systems Slovakia is currently based in Košice with more than 3,500 employees. Many of them are university graduates, who were not sufficiently prepared for work. They lacked practical experience. Therefore, the company introduced a dual education program with the local vocational secondary school – Stredná priemyselná škola elektrotechnická, in Košice helping to enhance the practical skills of young people. The aim of the company is to bring long term prosperity to the Košice region. Even Cergon Networks collaborates with the vocational secondary school – Stredná odborná škola elektrotechnická, in Liptovský Hrádok, where the firm is gradually educating future workers. Up to 70% of the employees at Cergon are graduates of these secondary vocational schools.

Support for older employees

Slovakia will have one of the biggest problems in the EU with aging population. In Slovakia by 2050 a 21% reduction in workforce will be seen. The result of which, is that firms will not be able to find enough employees. BLF is now teaching firms about how to use the benefits of older employees, which are experienced, motivated and loyal. The tools for companies are support for the health of employees in the workplace and beyond, flexible work options, but also the creation of mixed-aged teams.

Employee care

Companies that are able to motive their employees more than usual, have around 12% higher returns than companies with low staff motivation. It emerged from the survey Aeon Hewitt in 2013. In the UK, up to 70% of young people prefer to seek employment at companies that do business responsibly. Whether the company is honest and behaves towards its interests is more important that salary. We see it also in Slovak surveys that young people prefer companies who are consistent with their values. It is increasingly coming to the fore and work-life balance of employees and this whether firms provide flexible working hours and promote a balance between the working and personal lives of its employees. It shows that work flexibility for firms costs nothing. On the contrary, it leads to greater employee satisfaction.

The Business Leaders Forum of the Pontis Foundation last year prepared for firms a number of recommendations in areas such as the use and promotion of alternative transport, and thus the protection of the environment. Others related to the building of good relationships with supplies. Responsible suppliers provide firms higher efficiency, deliver greater savings and reduce reputational risks. The company Embraco via 8 workshops with its suppliers in the past years equated to savings over the past two years to the tune of $2.7million.

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We create strong and meaningful linkages between the corporate, civic and public sectors in our three strategic topics – social innovation, philanthropy and responsible entrepreneurship. We build expertise our expertise in these issues, bring trends, promote long-term impact, and inspire.

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