Action now, not words. BSR's 25th annual conference.

Photo: Dario Leventini/BSR

Photo: Dario Leventini/BSR

Two weeks ago, Fortitude spoke at BSR’s 25th annual conference in California along with nearly 1,000 other sustainability leaders, including former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Alongside a panel consisting of General Mills and Disney, Robert Nuttall participated in a session on the global shift in how businesses are connecting their brands and consumers to sustainability.

Among the key themes that emerged was how, to date, brand, business and purpose have existed in isolation across many organisations. The panellists are now seeing a new type of reality emerging…

Trends including technological shifts, changing millennial attitudes, disruptive new entrants, resource stress and geopolitical flux, are forcing companies to think very differently about how they interact with their customers.

Many customers now look to brands that share their values, and companies that are clear about what they stand for.

As brands seek to connect more powerfully and authentically with their customers, the old approach used to persuade them into caring about sustainability is shifting - businesses are using sustainability to address what customers really care about.

Another notable feature of the session was the extremely high level of engagement from the audience, with many recognising that the current sustainability strategies in their respective organisations were an unexploited asset. The questions focussed on the how not the why -  understanding how leadership can be engaged, how to best define a company’s purpose and how to connect more effectively with brand owners.

Phrases like ‘tipping point’ and ‘point of inflection’ are often overused. But there was a genuine sense of excitement amongst the many companies present that this next stage in the evolution of sustainability could be a game changer in terms of driving growth for organisations and guiding them to make a greater societal impact.

Maddie Stone