New forum for Canterbury businesses

A new forum aimed at making it easier for Canterbury businesses to introduce sustainable business models has been launched in Christchurch.

The founder and chief executive of the Canterbury Sustainable Business Forum, David Thomson, says chief executives worldwide know they need to do something about sustainability and know it's a good idea but they don't quite know what to do about it.

"It's been ignored and written off as 'nice to have and a little bit hippie . . . a bit green and weird' and it's been pushed to one side and ignored.

"But actually it's good sound business sense, and we're business people - we're boring old suits - we're not hippies in the slightest."

The forum already has 40 members, including Fulton Hogan, Schneider Electric and Fortis Construction.

The strength of the organisation lies in its members, as it operates as a not-for-profit, facilitated networking brokerage.

Thompson hopes to recruit 500 members in the next 12 to 18 months.

So what's in it for businesses?

Companies integrating sustainability into their business operations were reporting cost reductions and improved profitability, better risk management, positive responses from their markets and happier, more committed employees, he said.

Staff at businesses that operated on sustainable principles tended to stay significantly longer and be more committed to their organisations, Thompson said.

"People like to work for businesses that have values beyond making as much money in as short a space of time as possible."

Members get to share the ideas and resources that other people in the forum have, they benefit from Thompson's expertise in helping them identify the most relevant people to work with.

Thompson is completing a masters degree in consumer understanding and attitudes towards sustainability through Lincoln University.

The forum was essentially a way to access people who had recognised expertise, and to help businesses sort through information and find what was relevant and of value to their organisation.

There would also be monthly meetings with presenters, workshops and a database of products, businesses, programmes and agencies.

Membership levies range from $100 for a micro, small or medium enterprise to $750 for a larger corporate.

The forum has a working relationship with the National Sustainable Business Network and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The Press