People helping people

Peter Van Laer, CEO BDO Belgium

Like so many others, I too could hardly believe my eyes when I watched the disconcerting television images of the floods in our country. You don’t expect something like that, not so close to home anyway. You want to help, but you cannot control the floods. You feel for the victims, as a human being, as a compatriot, as a neighbour. As an entrepreneur, you want to do something, it’s in your blood. But even then you are no match for such a natural phenomenon. And all you can do is apply a bit of soothing ointment, at best a plaster on the wound.

“A BDO employee is personal, pragmatic, dedicated and respectful – for our people, planet and social environment.”

Despite this powerlessness, I refuse to resign myself to the situation. I compare it to the oil-soaked sea bird rescued after a tanker disaster. One bird may not make much of a difference, but by saving the creature you give the signal that you do not accept the situation. Such an attitude creates empathy and offers perspective. It is no different with natural and other disasters.

Towards a sustainable economic model

The economic model of the last century has reached its limits and is no longer sustainable, environmentally or economically. A sustainable economic model, in contrast, provides the format for a prosperous and resilient economy with long-term perspectives. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a stranglehold on the world for nearly two years now, this does not detract from the weight and relevance of the message: the transition to a new and more sustainable development model is a structural challenge that we, as a responsible company, take on for ourselves, for our customers, and for society.

Hope and results motivate

Because corporate social responsibility does not stop at our pursuit of climate neutrality – although we are particularly proud that, two years ago, BDO was already certified as the first climate-neutral consultancy firm in Belgium. We contribute actively and directly to 10 of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals. So, are the seven others less important? Of course not, they get attention too. But I’m focusing on those goals that give us hope as an organisation, that get things moving and achieve tangible results. Because hope and results motivate, they provide energy and reinforce the strength of the team.

Indeed, I am convinced that people need each other in order to exceed their own potential and set an example and take the lead as an organisation. ‘People helping people’ – that conviction is my drive and our purpose, our why – and it’s deeply rooted in our genes.

Freely taking our responsibility

A BDO employee is personal, pragmatic, dedicated and respectful – for our people, planet and social environment. He or she has empathy for what is happening nearby and around the world. A quality to be stimulated and cultivated. Only when each of our more than 700 employees is given the freedom to manage their own professional and personal growth can they give of their best. Whoever they are and wherever they come from. In this way, we can all grow, together, in a society of which each of us is a part and – let’s face it – for which we are responsible.