The 2019 3BL Brands Taking Stands Forum brought together industry leaders working to move the needle on sustainability, climate action, and corporate responsibility.
The (triple) bottom line? It’s time for action, now more than ever, because we can’t afford to wait. Here’s what we learned.
- Diversity starts with you
It’s time for companies to start walking the talk and hiring people who are a culture add, not just a culture fit. Harry Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, encouraged companies to get honest about the process: “If you want talent, you can get it.”
- Gen Z demands action
Gen Z no longer expects company action, they demand it. 90% of Gen Z expect companies to take action, and 75% will double check that the company is doing what it says it is. Sustainable Business Consulting’s CEO, Kevin Wilhelm, argued that, “Gen Z is named Z because they’re the last generation who can do something about climate and the first who will feel its effects.”
- Authentic and legitimate
Checking the boxes isn’t what real responsibility looks like. Consumers, employees, and stakeholders all demand business initiatives that are authentic, legitimate, and genuinely connected to their materiality. Barie Carmichael, a fellow at Darden Business School, underscored the importance of following through with big goals, saying “It’s not your pledges, it’s your actions that matter.”
- Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility
Having just one person on your sustainability team or a small green team isn’t going to cut it anymore. Collaborating with different departments, companies, and industries is essential for real success, because impact is part of everyone’s job. As Nathan Hurst, Chief of HP Sustainable explained, “Cross-sector partnership is essential to equip the future workforce.”
- Communication is important, but not more than purpose
Telling a compelling story is essential to connecting with your audience, but it’s never more important than engaging with a cause in a way that is impactful and sincere. “From marketing to movements. From advertising to advocacy. From calls to action to activism,” said Simon Mainwaring of We First branding.
- Level up your initiatives
It’s no secret that there is a serious sense of increased urgency and intensity that has sparked many CEOs to maximize the impact of their initiatives. As Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, explained, “Getting criticized is a big part of it. It’s a barometer for success. If I’m not being criticized, I’m probably not pushing hard enough.”