16 Years of Taking a Closer Look at Sustainability

16 Years of Taking a Closer Look at Sustainability

Once again, we are here to educate, connect, and inspire people. For the first time ever, we will do so under the name of Business Leaders Forum, with a focus on examples from Slovakia and with awards for those who contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Awareness about corporate social responsibility is growing. In a representative survey that we conducted in cooperation with the FOCUS agency in 2017, 53% of the participants were able to spontaneously name a socially responsible company. In 2015, it was 36% and back in 2011 it was only 21% of the respondents.

Even companies have seen significant shifts in the way CSR is perceived and conducted. Instead of simply participating in one-time charitable events, companies are moving onto strategic philanthropy. Moreover, it’s no longer necessary to explain that CSR has a much more complex scope than philanthropy.

“Our BLF CSR Summit reflects these changes. 16 years ago, when the summit was still in its early days, we felt that we needed to explain the concept of sustainability and convince people of its advantages. Today, we can bring specific inspiration in the form of practical CSR,” says Ivana Vagaská, Senior Program Manager at the Pontis Foundation, which organizes the summit together with the CSR team.

What gives intrapreneurship the power to change companies and society as a whole? What happens when a company decides to tackle the topic of dignified death? And how can we address the varying needs and expectations of different generations in the workplace? These are the topics that will be presented by our international speakers, whose talks will be complemented by the best real-world examples from a Slovak context.

CEE CSR Summit Is Now BLF CSR Summit

In 2004, when we organized our first CSR conference and opinion poll, we formed Business Leaders Forum – an association of companies who follow and promote the principles of corporate social responsibility. What started as a group of a few companies, has since grown into a platform with 44 diverse members ranging from IT companies and shared service centers to retail chains. “We educate, we connect, we inspire. We make business worthwhile.” The association’s motto is also fitting for our conference, which, over the years, has grown into the largest event of its kind in Central Europe.

“The feedback we collected from our attendees in recent years showed a recurring need to focus on examples from a Slovak context. In fact, members of Business Leaders Forum have many CSR solutions that prove that the principles of corporate social responsibility can also be applied in a Slovak context, thus serving as specific inspiration for others,” explains Ivana Vagaská.

To address these requests, the summit program now includes a new section titled BLF Talks, the main part of the program contains a discussion with retail chain CEOs from Slovakia, and the parallel program sections include a discussion with people from Slovak media outlets. Because of the natural long-term partnership between the summit and Business Leaders Forum, CEE CSR Summit is changing its name to BLF CSR Summit.

The First SDG Awards

For many years, the CSR Summit also included the so-called Responsible Marketplace, which was open to the public and consisted of booths with products and services from Slovak companies. Why won’t it be part of the event this year?

“The answer is simple. When we first started this concept, there was nothing like it in Slovakia. Nowadays, at least Bratislava has several market-style events that focus on concepts such as a zero-waste lifestyle, sustainable fashion, healthy toys, and slow food. This means that our “mission” in this regard has been accomplished. The time has come for us to find out what Slovakia is still missing and what we could offer,” adds Ivana Vagaská.

As a result, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) get as much space as possible. Twice now, our Via Bona Slovakia Award has been presented to companies that contribute to achieving the SDGs. So far, little attention has been paid to NGOs, public institutions, and individuals. However, these goals, which were defined by the UN in 2015, depend on the activity of various individuals and bodies in society. We have the power to end poverty, fight inequality, and stop climate change, but only if we act together.

Starting this year, the CSR Summit will also include an awards ceremony for the SDG Awards, which will be presented in the following categories: Public Sector, NGO, Media Campaign, Leader Under the Age of 30, Leader Over the Age of 30, and Company. Since the Company category has already been presented at this year’s Via Bona Slovakia Awards, it will be added to the SDG Awards next year.

Finally, the CSR Summit will also include a presentation of the results of our current opinion poll on how the Slovak public views corporate social responsibility.

Mark the date so that you don’t miss the biggest CSR conference, which takes place on 12 November in the Old Market Hall in Bratislava.