Business leaders, policy makers and representatives from academia met at the House of Lords to find ways to encourage sustainability and diversity in the workplace.
‘Sustainability in the boardroom’ was organised by INSEAD Directors’ Network (IDN) UK in collaboration with the Global Initiative on Ageing (GIA), Recency Recruitment Ltd and with the support of UNITAR (United Nations Institute for training and research).
Naseem Talukdar, founder and managing director of Regency Recruitment Ltd, which supplies seasonal workers for UK horticulture from South-East Asia, said: “This was an insightful event.
“Diverse and sustainable workplaces, which protect workers’ wellbeing, help reduce poverty, protect the environment and drive growth.”
INSEAD is one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business school. GIA’s mission is to support goals set by the UN and improve the inclusion of the world’s ageing population.
Naseem, from Bristol, is also the founder of Projects Against Plastic (PAP), a charity working to reduce the negative impact of single-use plastic.
Naseem, who is also the director for social responsibility and sustainability for UK Curry Connect (UKCC) campaign group, added: “We are looking at holistic approaches to sustainability – from using plastic-free products to reducing our carbon footprint.”
Sustainability in the workplace
Regency, which has aligned with several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will create an ethical charter to ensure workers’ rights are protected.
Luis Gallegos, chair of UNITAR’s board of trustee and president of Global Initiative on Ageing (GIA), spoke at the event.
He said: “We need a better planet for our children and our grandchildren. Businesses have a responsibility to be sustainable in all dimensions – from fair pay of any individual to participation in governance.”
Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, the High commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK, also sat on the panel.
Ms. Saida Muna Tasneem, who has guided Regency on how to do business in Bangladesh, talked about the need for more women as board members, including women of colour.
She said: “Research shows women play an important role in the workplace, boosting innovation, marketability and profitability. We have to employ them.”
Naseem said afterwards: “Women play an important role in the workplace and we will work to ensure inclusivity.
“We are committed to providing a safe and sustainable environment for women coming from South East Asia.”
Speaking at the event, GIA Vice President Silvia Neira called for inclusion of the ageing population in the workplace.
The advisor to various NGOs related to education, health and diversity said: “People over 50 have a lot to offer to companies in the managerial level due to their experience and knowledge and it’s important to build multigenerational bridges.”
Regency recruits from commonwealth, climate-affected countries such as Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.
Naseem, who helped successfully launch a Plastic Free Ramadan campaign nationwide to reduce single-use plastic while breaking fast, said: “We work with those affected by natural disasters, caused by the carbon footprint around the world.
“It’s an opportunity for the workers to invest money back into their children’s education and economy, while ensuring they are treated fairly.
“The UK, which has a labour shortage in the farming industry, benefits from those with an agriculture-rich background. It helps reduce waste and the carbon footprint in production.”
Bangladesh has experienced more than 185 adverse weather events over the past 20 years. Seventy-five percent of the country is technically submerged.
Jeff Scott is a board member of INSEAD IDN. He is also chair of NatWest Trustee and Depositary Services (TDS) and co-founder of Rewired Earth, a not-for-profit global coalition set to make financial markets a force for good on the planet.
He called for firms to look to the UN’s SDGs, be aware of their own supply chains and think about their customers’ needs as they drive profitability.
Lord Dick Newby OBE, leader of the Lib Dems in the House of Lords, who hosted the event, added: “Young people care about the environment and do business with this in mind.”
Speaking after the event, Naseem said: “I believe change often starts with education. It’s great to see INSEAD helping so many people around the world to achieve purposeful change.”