Sustainability Starts From Within: 3 Key Takeaways from Day Two at Sustainable Brands London 2014

After touching on the relationship between brands and consumers on Day One, Day Two of the Sustainable Brands conference in London offered a wealth of insights and real life experiences in how to embed sustainability into an organisation.
Three “must-do’s” stood out for me:
First, embedding sustainability starts with identifying a corporate purpose and a set of values which will guide how employees behave as individuals, and collectively. David Wheldon, Head of Brand, Reputation and Citizenship at Barclays Group shared his experience creating the Barclays Way, which outlines the values and behaviours governing the bank’s way of working globally.  As David put it, “culture change is painful and difficult”, but several measures have been put in place to drive internal alignment including a Balanced Scorecard with KPIs directly linked to bonuses and performance evaluations.
Second, integrating sustainability also means aligning an organisation’s products and services with its corporate purpose. BASF is successfully doing that with its Sustainable Solution Steering method which is used to systematically review and evaluate the sustainability aspects of the approximately 50,000 relevant product applications in the company’s portfolio, which represent sales of €56 billion. Over the past three years, BASF has analyzed more than 80% of its portfolio of roughly 50,000 specific product applications. Andrea Frenzel, Senior VP of Strategic Planning listed out a few success factors: enabling cross-functional collaboration, using locally-relevant approaches at the regional level, and going beyond the “S word” to make the whole approach more tangible to colleagues.
Third, it is also critical to enable and engage those that know the business best  the employees themselves – to come up with ideas. B&Q’s Consumer and Marketing Director Chris Moss told the very inspirational story of Ben Smith, Buyer at B&Q, who came up with a new concept to replace all polystyrene packaging across the range of B&Q’s bedding plants.
The sixth annual BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Survey released this week also shows that integrating sustainability into the core of the business remains the most significant leadership challenge that companies face. At Sustainable Brands London, we were reminded that change starts with a corporate purpose together with the right set of values, internal processes and innovation platforms that make it come to life.

Sustainable Brands Day 2 recap video: