H.K.H. Kronprinsessens tale ved CBS Responsibility Day den 1. september 2017

Offentliggjort den 1. september 2017

Distinguished Faculty, Senior Management, and not least Dear Students,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today, on your first ‘real’ day as CBS’er.  Firstly, congratulations on being accepted to CBS, one of the most respected business schools in Europe.  As I understand it’s pretty tough competition. That in itself suggests that you have talent and ambition, so the coming years are about taking that and building on it and shaping it.   CBS’s ambition for its students is that they leave capable of contributing with innovation and entrepreneurship to high level employment, and the creation of research, which is both academically excellent and contributes significantly to finding new answers to societal challenges. 

This phase in your education and your life is of course new and exciting, but it can also be a little daunting.  It is important to recognize that it can take a little bit of time to settle in, and find your way.  The pace is quick, expectations are high and you are even more responsible than ever for your studies. From today, you are part of a dynamic international environment with a strong sense of community – take advantage of the intro-program and the many student organizations to meet new and interesting people. 

So, in other words, welcome to the first day of a new and exciting chapter in your lives.

Today, you will be presented with a real-life case, in which a Danish fashion producer is asking you to come up with innovative and creative solutions to strengthen their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. This company wants to operate in a way that reduces its impact on the environment and the people they employ and work with. At the same time, they want to ensure that their bottom-line is not impacted negatively. 

Not such an easy first assignment, but it is an opportunity for you to understand the complexity in conducting responsible business in a globalized world.  More specifically, it is an opportunity to design new solutions and make a positive impact on the fashion and textile industry, an industry faced with major challenges as it is one of the most resource-intensive industries in the world and one that leaves large environmental, social and ethical footprints.

Before I speak more specifically about the Fashion industry, I would like to share with you a growing trend relating to the private sectors growing responsibility in global development and economic growth.

You have probably all heard of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This Agenda provides the framework for the world’s development through to 2030.  It is a very ambitious agenda and it has been recognized that the private sector has a significant role to play in achieving it. 

To realize the SDG’s it is estimated that the world will need to invest a staggering, 5 -7 trillion US dollars annually – this is roughly 7-10% of the global annual GDP.  Governments alone cannot reach this level of investment; therefore the private sector is vital to driving success.

Sustainable Development for people, planet and prosperity provides new opportunities for growth, but to truly capitalize on those opportunities it will require partnerships across continents, regions and countries and between the public and private sectors. It will require new business models and new ways of thinking – it will require designing new solutions that are both commercially viable, as well as delivering value to society. 

And the Global Goals will be a driving force for opening new markets and creating a better enabling environment for business. And as such, they present a wide spectrum of opportunities for visionary companies.

We need to move from businesses having a separate CSR strategy to a more integrated approach - where an increased societal responsibility can also result in growth and increased profit for that business. There is a growing acceptance that it is OK to “do well, by doing good”. These are concepts you will need to explore and consider in the case you have been presented with.

As patron of Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and an advocate for sustainable fashion, I’m very pleased that over 2,000 of some of the brightest students in Denmark will discuss and debate the complexities of this industry and the dilemmas and challenges businesses within the industry are faced with, and how such businesses can contribute to moving the industry towards a more sustainable one.

The fashion industry is huge and continues to grow rapidly – according to current growth projections, it will double in the next 10 years, generating up to $5 trillion annually. It’s not just big in terms of revenue – it also employs 60 million people around the world.

In terms of your case, you will need to consider, the working conditions and safety issues of employees, and the employees of those you do business with?

In the Ready Made Garment sector globally, there is an overrepresentation of women. Evidence shows that providing good working conditions, safety and labour rights for women, results in increased loyalty and production for those businesses.

What are you doing as a responsible business, in your business case, to ensure the rights of women are protected and respected? 

How are you promoting greater gender quality and the empowerment of women girls – not just for the benefit of your business and the industry, but as a contribution to achieving the global development goals, specifically Sustainable Development Goal 5? 

The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest consumer industries, and consumption drives the global economy. It is an industry with great influence and importance and it is an engine for development.

How can YAB YUM Clothing Company, the case company this year, influence consumer behavior? Buying patterns?

The fashion industry is extremely resource-intensive. Sadly, in the past 50 years, 60% of the earth’s ecosystem has been depleted and natural-resource consumption is expected to rise by three to six times by 2050. It is expected that the global population will reach over 8,5 billion people by 2030. The global middle class is expected to triple by 2030 and together with the current industry growth projections this translates to even greater competition for cheap production.

You will need to think about;

How you can improve the social and environmental performance of your business?

How you can exploit new technology, to do that?

Do you know enough about and are you responsible for your supply chain? Your sub-contractors?

Should you consider a circular economy as a business model?
Briefly, a circular economy aims to eradicate waste and encourages retaining more of the value of the material, energy, and labor inputs that go into products – think recycling and reuse at all levels of production.

These are just some of the questions you will need to consider in your discussions.

There is a lot of bad news about the fashion industry, but the good news is that the industry is characterized by speed, creativity and change and that by reinventing itself, the industry can both mitigate its negative impact and generate a high amount of value for society, while also protecting profitability. 

Youth has a central role to play in achieving sustainable development. You have a duty to challenge the status quo and the strategies of today’s leaders. And there is no doubt that what you have to offer is really needed. All of you represent an enormous potential, a potential that can contribute to meeting the challenges of today and making the most of new opportunities for the benefit of us all.

I wish you good luck in the Responsibility Day case competition and in your studies. I hope that what I have said here today has given some meaning and has challenged you to see yourself and your new fellow students as part of the solution to the global challenges we face.

Thank you.