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“What’s the ROI for Destroying the Planet?”

12 Dec 2017 1:46 PM | AZF Staff (Administrator)
2017 Annual Luncheon, Arizona Forward, HDR, RISN Incubator, Shelton Group, IntelArizona Forward’s 48th Annual Luncheon on Dec. 8 sparked an important conversation that delved straight into the purpose of corporate social responsibility. While looking through the lens of sustainable practices, four guest speakers demonstrated how being green also means being more profitable.

Suzanne Shelton, founder of the sustainability-focused marketing company Shelton Group, led a discussion featuring:

  • Todd Brady – Director, Global Public Affairs & Sustainability at Intel Corporation. Todd has published more than 20 papers on scientific topics.
  • Alicia Marseille ­– Director, RISN Incubator at ASU. Alicia is finding ways to recycle and reuse waste to keep it out of landfills.
  • Michaella Wittmann – Director, Sustainability at HDR. Michaella founded HDR’s sustainability program and was among the first people in the U.S. to receive LEEP AP credentials.

Thanks to more than 250 guests, we had a lively, insightful event. We took care of some internal business before launching our keynote discussion. For those who didn’t make it, here are some of the key takeaways:

  • We are in the middle of a global shift in thinking. Just as littering is no longer socially acceptable, we’re heading the same direction with sustainability. Green practices – from renewable energy to reclaiming water – are becoming the norm.
  • Even more importantly, customers are voting with their wallet to favor companies that are solving environmental problems. According to Shelton Group polls, 66 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands.
  • It’s great for companies to implement green policies. But improving the bottom line also requires a concerted effort to tell that story to the public. If they don’t know about the actions you’re taking, you can’t influence their choices. Unilever, a brand well-known for its sustainability efforts, has this recent example of putting its story into its products.
  • Simplify the way you’re communicating to the public, and tell the story in a way that evokes emotion. Here’s some key advice Suzanne offered as an example: Instead of saying that you work in the circular economy, tell people you are working to eliminate landfills.
  • Michaella said that encouraging HDR take its first steps into sustainability involved answering a simple question: What’s the benefit to customers and employees? Today, she considers HDR’s sustainability program one of the keys to recruit top talent.
  • 2017 Annual Luncheon, Arizona Forward, HDR, RISN Incubator, Shelton Group, Intel
  • The Q & A portion of the event raised a provocative question: Why don’t we just consume less? That would be an ideal, of course, and panelists said that would be the best outcome. It’s also the hardest behavior to change. Imagine a growing family trying to “buy less stuff.” Asking them to choose recycled products from a company that uses renewable energy? That’s much easier to sell.
  • Suzanne wrapped up with an important question: What’s the ROI for destroying the planet?

If you attended, what resonated with you?

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