World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello has warned that the global financial crisis is putting the squeeze on corporate social responsibility but is optimistic key Australian business leaders will not abandon their community engagement programs.
Mr Costello said CSR is finally part of the DNA of many of Australia's CEOs and this would ensure social engagement programs will not be sacrificed amid tougher business conditions.
“The challenges of corporate social responsibility are great and one of the greatest difficulties is holding strong during a financial downturn,” Mr Costello said. "The CEO really needs to have within their DNA the sense that CSR is important.
“The great thing is that a shift is occurring, more and more CEOs were born in the 1960s and what I mean by that is their sense of resonance with environmental and social issues is quite strong. It isn't just a profits motto; they get this stuff."
Speaking at a breakfast hosted by the North Melbourne Football Club and Edelman, Mr Costello said it was encouraging to see a dialogue emerging in corporate and sporting communities that focused on social responsibility. He also commended the Australian Football League on its extraordinary contribution to Australian society.
“The AFL has done an extraordinarily good job on changing the culture on a whole range of issues,” Mr Costello said. “Linking the great social issues of our time with business and sport is really quite powerful.”
Mr Costello joined AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and KMPG’s Peter Nash on the speakers’ panel at Etihad Stadium at this morning’s breakfast. The theme of the event was the power of corporate social responsibility (CSR) through sport.
In March World Vision Australia announced a significant partnership with the North Melbourne Football Club, part of a broader move by the club to enhance its corporate social responsibility. World Vision Australia’s logo was added to the club’s backdrop for the 2012 season, at no cost to the aid and development organisation.
"The Kangaroos are demonstrating their commitment to our local and international communities in a very practical way,” said Mr Costello. “Their work through The Huddle is quite extraordinary. And through our joint partnership, they have allowed World Vision an opportunity to actively engage the football community on social justice issues.”
“I’m a passionate football supporter, and it’s clear to me that Aussie Rules plays an important role in Australian culture and in diverse sections of the community. Sport speaks to young people, it offers a leg-up to disadvantaged youth, it entertains, empowers and unites people. And it offers a great bridge between corporations and good causes.”
To interview Tim Costello, please contact Gabrielle Brophy on 0407 575 112