International conference call for business leaders to seek new ideas and engage younger generations

Business leaders should appeal for ideas for alternatives to current
offerings and more sustainable and less environmentally damaging
business models

Responsible business leaders should appeal for fresh ideas and engage
more with younger generations upon whom the future of mankind depends,
according to Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas speaking at the 13th
International Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility. According
to the author of Winning Companies; Winning People: “We need to open
up to them and engage, involve and trust them. We need to inspire them
by articulating challenges and opportunities in terms of causes that
capture their imaginations and motivate them.”

Addressing fellow directors Coulson-Thomas argued: “We need to be role
models of more socially responsible leadership. We need to pass on the
batons of creative enterprise, inspired entrepreneurship and more
inclusive capitalism. We need to build the cultures and working and
learning environments and put in place the mechanisms and models that
will allow younger generations to use current and future innovations,
their time and natural resources wisely.”

Coulson-Thomas suggested: “Young people are sometimes cynical and wary
in their views of business. They see a gulf between the rhetoric of
concern for the environment and widespread practices such as built-in
obsolescence, shortening the life of products and withdrawing
servicing and support to force disposal and replacement purchasing
rather than repair. They see current business priorities, practices
and models continuing largely unchanged, while the actual and
potential costs of coping with the consequences of climate change and
other maturing risks rise exponentially with every year of delay.”

The Professor issued a warning: “Thinking young people ought to be
worried. Will they spend their later years scavenging for rare
minerals on mountains of our contaminated waste? We need to reassure
young people that we are not mortgaging their futures – and our
children’s and grand-children’s futures – for our own short-term
benefits. Incremental improvement of current practices and models may
not be enough to address many of the challenges we face and seize
related opportunities. We need “get out of jail” cards. Creativity,
innovation and entrepreneurship could be the answer if we embrace

Coulson-Thomas believes: “We may need to look beyond the usual
suspects and those whose views of what is possible derive from a
previous era. Throughout history some of the biggest breakthroughs
have come from outsiders. As business leaders, we need to inspire
creativity, encourage and enable innovation and support
entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.  As directors we should
appeal for ideas, including ideas for alternatives to our current
offerings and ideas for more sustainable and less environmentally
damaging business models.”

The Adaptation chairman pointed out: “Actively trading companies often
have premises, accounts and HR departments and – importantly- direct
access to potential customers. They hold licenses to operate and they
have a trading history. We have all of these things that most start-up
entrepreneurs lack. We could offer to work with selected entrepreneurs
to help them commercialise promising ideas. In some cases we could do
this on a collaborative basis and take an equity stake.”

Alongside multiple challenges Coulson-Thomas who also leads the
International Governance Initiative of the Order of St Lazarus
believes there are also historic possibilities, such as to remove the
threat of leprosy: “The disease which is now curable has been a
scourge of mankind since when the founders of the world’s great
religions walked upon this earth. There are opportunities to increase
awareness, early detection and treatment, stop discrimination and
promote inclusion.

Prof (Dr) Colin Coulson-Thomas, Adaptation chairman and President of
the Institute of Management Services, has helped directors in over 40
countries to improve director, board and corporate performance. An
experienced director, board chair and process vision holder of complex
and mission critical transformation programmes, he holds a portfolio
of national and international leadership roles, has held public
appointments at national, regional and local level, and has had
professorial roles in Europe, North and South America, Africa, the
Middle East, India and China. He is a Fellow of the Institute for
Responsible Business and received the CSR Lifetime Achievement Award
at the 2018 CSR Leadership Summit. His recent publications can be
obtained from policy publications:

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