Last week we hosted a virtual roundtable event for our Connect community to discuss the challenges and opportunities of embracing sustainability within our organisations. Attendees included over 20 leaders from a wide range of industries such as, consumer goods, life sciences, retail and food and drink, just to name a few . A huge thanks to guest speakers Zibi Lewicki and Renée Reehl for generously sharing their experiences with such openness, enthusiasm, and passion.

Zibi opened the discussion with some insights on ‘purpose-driven leadership’, ‘practical idealism’ and ‘regenerative growth loops’, followed by some tangible examples of successful sustainable products he has been involved in. Through adopting these principles, having sustainability at the heart of driving impact can help get to win-win-win for all parties.

We then heard from Renée who shared some of the unique challenges she has experienced advancing sustainable packaging in the highly regulated pharma sector, and how important it is to empower people beyond a core sustainability team, embedding sustainability into the business’ culture.

It is a struggle to narrow down the themes emerging from the session, as our speaker presentations and the subsequent Q&A were very insight-rich, here are the top three takeaways:

  1. “Start with purpose” – the road to sustainability is tumultuous and full of trade-offs. Don’t be disheartened by having to make pragmatic choices in the short term. You can make the practical short-term decisions as long they are overall steered by a clear purpose guiding your long-term goals
  2. “People don’t buy sustainable products, they buy great products” – sustainability itself is not enough to influence a purchase; consumers and customers still need to see that it is the best product for them (based on quality, price, function and so on). But don’t be complacent, as demand can change quickly when a competitor releases a sustainable alternative that is equivalent in all other respects
  3. “Change starts from the top” – sustainability should be embedded within the organisation and sponsored from the CEO down; it cannot be a side function focussed only on PR and reporting. Leadership must set the precedent that the success of the business is based on performance and impact

If you’d like to find out more about Connect community and our future events, do not hesitate to reach out to us!

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