All strands of society pulling together with businesses

A commitment to environmental, social and governance matters was evident from companies throughout this year’s judging process, writes Nikki Canavan

Nikki Canavan, senior director, origination and market development, Bank of Ireland, Corporate Banking

Bank of Ireland is delighted once again to be lead sponsor of the Deloitte Best Managed Companies programme, for the fifth consecutive year.

And what a year it has been for Irish businesses, which began 2022 in the grip of a global health crisis, had to plan and manage their exit from pandemic restrictions as the year progressed, and then encountered new challenges almost immediately as the global equilibrium was rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With inflationary pressures moving apace, not to mention remaining Brexit tailwinds and tightening labour markets, it’s fair to say many businesses find themselves in uncharted territory.

As part of the 2022 programme, Bank of Ireland’s team of mentors and coaches worked with a variety of enterprises across the domestic business landscape as they implemented innovative solutions to enable them to thrive in an ever-evolving commercial environment. The performance of these enterprises through these challenges is a testament to the energy, resilience and skills of their respective management teams and staff who have all been resolutely tested in ways we could not have predicted over the last few years.

Many businesses have had to redefine their processes, streamline their objectives and continue to lean on the many lessons learned across the business community during the pandemic. Bank of Ireland’s panel of experienced Best Managed Companies mentors saw many changes implemented in our own organisation and supported our customers to ensure they continued to move forward. Going back to the ‘old ways’ is rarely an option for any company intent on growing, and this has perhaps never been truer as we emerge from the pandemic to encounter a whole new set of challenges. These include the horrific war in the Ukraine, rapid inflation and potential energy supply disruptions as we face into the winter.

Given the raft of environmental challenges facing society today, understanding a company’s approach and commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, was a key focus throughout the 2022 Best Managed Companies judging process. A thriving business, one with designs on delivering future growth, needs to be sustainable and must be equipped with a robust ESG plan. It’s not a ‘nice to have’ any longer, it’s a ‘must-have’, and Ireland as a nation is committed to reaching its environmental targets by 2030. The only way this can happen is by all strands of society pulling together, with businesses to play a central role in that.

At Bank of Ireland, we are proud to support customers in the green transition, increasing the value of our Sustainable Finance Fund to €5 billion by 2024 and acting as the largest provider for the purchase of electric vehicles. By the end of 2022, Bank of Ireland will have aligned its lending practices with the low carbon ambitions of the Paris Agreement by setting science-based targets across portfolios and operations.

We are also supporting the development of Ireland’s renewable energy sector, providing financing for the development of at least 750 MW of renewable wind capacity. We have a €2 billion fund in place for residential development which provides financial support, nationwide, for the development of a range of housing types including environmentally sustainable Nearly Zero Energy Building Standard (NZEB), A-rated, and social housing development.

Bank of Ireland was also to the fore in the provision of customer support loans and payment breaks as the effects of Brexit hit home and as the pandemic raged. We look forward to further supporting our customers as the details of the government’s initiatives outlined in the recent budget are fully revealed.

2022 will be remembered as a year when Irish businesses were required to clear multiple hurdles, scale new heights, and adopt new practices to future proof their plans. It has been a year of ups and downs for many, but Bank of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies judging team has been very impressed by the drive, determination and resilience shown by business leaders across a range of sectors.

Each year, the Best Managed Companies judging team tells itself surely this year’s cohort can’t be as good as the last, but each year we are left pleasantly surprised by the ever-increasing levels of innovation, resilience, and ambition displayed by participating companies. I want to congratulate all the winners from this year’s programme, particularly the nine new winners, and wish them the very best in all their future endeavours.

Nikki Canavan is senior director of origination and market development at Bank of Ireland, Corporate Banking