Beata Drzazga, one of the most enterprising Polish women, founder of BetaMed SA and several other companies at home and abroad, known for her inspiring speeches for business people, argues that it is worthwhile to act in accordance with ESG requirements;
Listening to what you say about sustainability, one can come to the conclusion that ESG requirements, treated by the managements of many companies as a necessary evil, really are a positive factor in the development of the economy.
During last year’s Economic Forum in Karpacz, a platform for cooperation between Polish and international leaders of change in the field of sustainable development was established. It is sponsored by the Employers of Poland organization. The goal of the founders – of which I am one – is to make the European Union directive work well in practice and meet its objectives. I am convinced that we should not be afraid to formalize requirements that respond to climate and social changes taking place in the world. Meeting with employers at conferences on these issues, I was saddened to find that many of them think only about the formal side of ESG, the need to hire specialists in this field, future audits, etc. I heard behind the scenes that it is a fifth wheel, something that no one needs for anything. I profoundly disagree with this.
So what is ESG?
A signpost showing the right direction. In my business practice I have been guided by the principles expressed by ESG for many years. However, this was due not to cold calculation, but to the need of the heart. By the time it became fashionable for companies to engage in CSR activities, I had already been doing it for a long time – without the need to talk about it out loud, simply because it seemed right and necessary. For many years I was an employee, I have not forgotten this, becoming an employer. I dreamed of showing a better face of health care – an empathetic, help-oriented one. I believed then, as I do now, that anyone can change the world for the better. I explained to my colleagues that innovation can apply not only to industry, but also to medical services. And you have to start with kindness and a smile.
This brings us back to CSR or, if you prefer, the S in ESG, expressed by the word “Social,” or corporate social responsibility activities.
I’ll say in jest – I was introducing ESG principles before the term even existed. Let’s start with E, or Environmental, reflecting concern for the environment. I decided to use Jessica’s Area Revitalization Loan to take care of the green area near the clinic. I also deeply analyzed the issue of waste, and chose a reliable company that had experience in properly storing, transporting and disposing of waste. I knew which incinerator our garbage would go to. I know that other investors rarely think about such things, but after all, real conservation efforts are about demanding the most from yourself.
But let’s go back to the aforementioned letter S, because your ventures in this area are an excellent role model, not only in the health care industry.
In this case, big things blend harmoniously with small things. Examples I could multiply. I introduced as chairman a surprise that on the occasion of his birthday everyone gets an extra paid day off. I extended employees’ weekends and came up with the idea of going home earlier on Fridays. With everyone already thinking about work on Sunday night, I suggested that they come later on Mondays. As I am saddened if I find out about serious illnesses of the people I employ, I have introduced into the leave of absence two days for women for a breast examination and a gynecologist, and for men for a colonoscopy and a testicular examination. I would like my colleagues to feel that I really care about them and I care about them. I also encourage them to do other research and see the results. I hear less and less about health problems.
The letter S also refers to initiatives for the wider environment.
When building the clinic, I decided that BetaMed would be a good neighbor for the residents of the surrounding blocks. It started with a very successful Children’s Day party, followed by Mother’s Day. We regularly organize dancing parties for seniors. We also do not forget about prevention – we invite the residents of Chorzow to lectures on diet, diabetes risk, etc. It is difficult to enumerate all our initiatives, such as assistance to orphanages and equipment for day care centers. I was doing all this without thinking about marketing benefits, although it was precisely such ventures that were shown as CSR at the time. What’s more – unlike other companies – I couldn’t even count on a VAT refund. The health service is exempt from this tax, which in practice means that it pays for everything at gross prices, unable to deduct VAT afterwards.
How many years have you been operating in the ESG style before these rules were invented?
I have been involved in this field for 23 years. Sometimes I smile to myself that all that I talked about a long time ago has now been put into practice. I have said many times at various meetings of entrepreneurs: let’s start talking loudly about it, who is able to do more for their employees. Who has new ideas to share?
The profit argument is best appealed to entrepreneurial people. Many companies are gaining new customers by showcasing their sustainability ventures in marketing campaigns.
Of course it brings good results. However, it is important to keep in mind that a true commitment to a better world must be something authentic and not the result of a business calculation. Talking to entrepreneurs, I repeat: take the ESG requirements positively. What if it may mean some expenses at first, but your companies will gain a lot if only in the field of moral values. It is also very important to follow the often unwritten norms associated with the letter G, or Governance. The implementation of profe- sional corporate governance, which has been talked about in our country for 20 years, still poses enormous challenges.
Your achievements in the field of management and precisely your commitment to sustainability made you a 100% candidate for our award – Manager Award 2023.
Thank you for your kind words. I must add that for me some issues are unarguable. The goal of the entrepreneur must not only be money, but the issues I mentioned earlier. And, in a broader perspective, the future of the planet where future generations will live.
interviewed by Piotr Cegłowski
Source: Manager Report