Quick Takeaways from GreenBiz 16

If you work in corporate sustainability, there’s a high probability you were either at the Green Biz conference this week’or tuned in to the proceedings via live broadcast and on Twitter #GrnBz.

Speakers comprised a Who’s Who on leadership and innovation across six major themes: Sustainable Supply Chains, Purpose & Leadership, The New Energy Landscape, Design & the Circular Economy, Engagement & Storytelling, and Materiality and Metrics. The setting, in the Arizona desert, is a perennial favorite among executives, especially for those of us who live in blustery weather zones.
A convening like Green Biz opens up like wine: new connections, recharged partnerships, pithy principles, and super-charged initiatives develop over the ensuing months. Check the GreenBiz site for ongoing conclusions and thought-leader news.
For now, we have some quick fresh impressions from WeSpire’s delegation that we’d love to share ASAP, peppered with a few of the top tweets we noticed on the (super busy) #GrnBz stream.

  • Sustainability means different things to different stakeholders. Some people complain about this, but we think the flexibility of the word suggests a marvelous capacity, as companies think carefully about leveraging the aspects most pertinent to their business.
  • As we’ve mentioned, the transition to positive impact is a complex, ongoing shift in the private sector; according to a presentation by thinkstep, 92% of F250 and 73% of the Inc. 5000 today report out on Sustainability, up from single-digit percentages in the early 90’s.
  • The way Paris was framed was kind of brilliant,” said Bill Weihl, Facebook’s director of sustainability (and WeSpire board member). We were all agreeing on the North Star goal, and we’re getting back together to reevaluate. That’s exactly what we do at companies.”


  • Five stars for the Purpose & Leadership track, sponsored by PwC, featuring a session with PwC’s Chief Purpose Officer (like that title!) Shannon Schuyler that mapped to PwC’s recent CEO Survey, in which 61% of respondents say business success will be defined by more than profit.

P.S. others may be recovering from Green Biz, but Shannon’s on to her next event, supporting purpose at the Oscars! Join via Huffington Post.
Nish Murthy, WeSpire’s head of Customer Success, took notes on the spot:
Millennials are not the same. They come in three buckets. 1) Fresh out of college are just looking for a job…not purpose, not anything more…just a job. 2) When they are a couple of years in, then they start asking “is this it?”…is this all this job is? 3) People who have been there about 4 years start looking for deeper purpose/meaning.
Another interesting point was that millennials aren’t trying to avoid face-to-face interactions. They use technology to facilitate these face-to-face conversations and because technology helps them communicate real time. (Thanks for the WeSpire shout-out on this point, Joel Makower!)Pie chart CSO from SHS GreenBiz preso

  • Another Five sparkly stars for WeSpire CEO Susan Hunt Stevens, who led a popular session about The Evolving Role of the CSO. In this high-energy chat,
    participants attached colorful labels to indicate where the sustainability practice lives at their corporation, showing a positive trend in the combination of strategy, innovation and sustainability; and an increasing number of sustainability teams reporting into the C-Suite’CEO, President or COO. We made a
    loose calculation of 23% based on this live data! Tip: consult the GreenBiz State of Green Business 2016 report for a comprehensive assessment of corporate sustainability progress.

P.S.2., from Nish: transport-access startup Ride created a lot of buzz. #onelesscar
Ellie Perkins‘s top pick:

  • Net Positive: Enabling & Measuring Sustainability Benefits. Interesting session on how companies are increasingly interested in adopting a net positive approach. Simply put, instead of focusing on how corporations can be less bad,’ its how can they be a force for good and make the world better! For example, Rio Tinto has made a public commitment to have a net positive impact on biodiversity. For Dell, the good will be 10x the use. Unilever is committed to being “carbon positive.” It’s a fascinating approach that business as usual’ cannot address’and it will require hugely innovative solutions and collaborations, new ways of thinking, and new ways of measuring outcomes. Check out the new and collaborative Net Positive Project, launching summer 2016.

We’re sending our team home for a well-deserved weekend break. What about you? Let’s hear about your favorite Green Biz highlightscactus cocktails and mushroom tacos included!

Are you ready to build a better working world?