The CEO Action Network, also known as ‘CAN’, is a closed-door peer-to-peer informal network of CEOs of leading Malaysian businesses. It is a coalition of leaders with a purpose, focused on sustainability advocacy, capacity building, action and performance.
The idea of CAN was first seeded at The Cooler Earth Sustainability Summit at a Leadership Luncheon, which was Chaired by the former Group CEO of CIMB, Yang Berhormat Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul bin Tengku Abdul Aziz on 1 October 2019.
A group of 22 businesses and their CEOs convened to discuss the growing challenges for businesses – from the accelerating phenomenon of climate change and the climate emergency, to increasing social injustices and failure of corporate governance. There were strong sentiments around the survival and future competitiveness of their businesses.
Businesses cannot function without natural capital; they cannot thrive in failing societies; and they cannot ignore stakeholders’ interests. Laws and regulations will change the dynamics as well as the playing field overnight. All businesses will be impacted, whether they are ready or not.
Transformative leadership is needed to drive sustainability (environmental, social, governance issues) in Malaysia. Leaders have the opportunity to assume greater responsibility and drive sustainability and sustainable practices. The climate emergency and the impending transitionary risks, as well as potential liabilities, must be introduced to trigger critical conversations at the Board level.
Collaboration with fellow CEOs can create a powerful force that would shape policies, win stakeholders, and create a favourable ecosystem for business and sustainable development. Through a CEO-level coalition, there is an opportunity to drive sustainability for the greater good of the industry and a resilient economy.
Post discussions, there was a consensus on the idea of institutionalising an informal network of CEOs for sustainability action and leadership. The founding Sponsors, CIMB and IMPACTO drafted CAN’s Charter and it was officially approved on 20 October 2020.
Key Motivation for Pioneer Members of CAN
Collaboration with leading corporations and agencies to shape and strengthen sustainability policies
Supporting policy-makers and government to devise industry standards and sector-specific sustainability standards and guidelines
Enabling transfer of knowledge and skills as well as learning about sustainability tools and best practices
Supporting peers to understand and integrate sustainability principles into their business models for positive impact
CAN is guided by the Steering Committee (SC), which is currently represented by 14 of its member CEOs or board members. The SC discussions and decisions are facilitated by its Chair, who is elected on a yearly basis by the SC members. Overall, the CANSC has the responsibility to steer and direct activities of CAN, including strategic direction, activities to be undertaken by the Working Group, and Workstream deliverables.
All Steering Committee members have committed to:
Mobilising resources, support, influence, knowledge and skills, to the best of their abilities
Seeking affiliations, enlisting new members, and supporting programmes or initiatives to meet CAN objectives; and
Championing at least one sustainability issue, through participation in one or more Workstreams.
Admittance to the Steering Committee is strictly by invitation or written expression of interest and upon approval of the existing SC members.
Tan Sri Dato' Seri Haji Megat Najmuddin
Sime Darby Plantation Berhad
CAN has a Working Group and various Workstreams, which are led by senior management members of CAN organisations. Overall coordination and operational support is provided by the Secretariat.
Working Group Chair
Head of Group Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility
CIMB Group Holdings Berhad
Policy Advocacy Lead
Chairperson of Dutch Lady Milk Industries & Founder of Climate Governance Malaysia
Capacity Building Lead
Malaysia Consulting Leader & South East Asia Sustainability & Climate Change Consulting Leader of PwC Malaysia