Top 8 Things Your Company Would Have Learned at Sustainable Brands 2011

CSR RatingsThe following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 5,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies. 3p readers get 40% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP40“.
Originally published on the CSRHub blog.

By Cynthia Figge

Sustainable Brands 2011 convened leading brand, innovation and sustainability executives in Monterey for the fifth annual conference to provide inspiration, insight and solutions for leveraging sustainability as a driver of business and brand value. Cynthia Figge, Cofounder and COO of CSRHub, attended the conference and shares eight key takeaways.

  1. Innovative disruptive change is the future. To see real benefits in cost and industry leadership, companies need to provide proactive positive solutions rather than simply doing less harm.  Chris Laszlo, Co-Author, Embedded Sustainability.
  2. Shift sustainable product marketing from eco-friendly to ego-friendly. The concept of ‘green’ has been feminized and is appealing to women, but to really shift consumer attitudes and buying practices, products will need to appeal to the male ego. Freya Williams and Graceann Bennett, Ogilvy Earth. See Ogilvy Earth’s latest research.
  3. Eco-innovation is an end, not a means. GE’s Ecomagination not only posits the company as a sustainability leader, but is GE’s #1 recruiting tool at schools and MBA programs and is itself a Fortune 500 company. Kate Brass, GE Program Manager, Ecomagination
  4. Don’t lie to millennials. When it comes to capturing millennial consumption and brand loyalty, authenticity and transparency are key to the promotion of sustainable affordable products. Social sharing and brand advocacy will follow. Erin Schrode, Lead Spokesperson, Teens Turning Green.
  5. Find models that overcome economic disincentives. Traditional business models push cost over-runs to the consumer. In a world where sustainable materials cost more than their unsustainable counterparts, successful business models move beyond economic disincentives for sustainability to make their products viable for consumers as well as business. Jeffrey Hollender, Co-Founder, Seventh Generation
  6. Gamify consumer sustainability. Recyclebank has successfully engaged citizens in recycling programs because they have gamified the act of recycling, providing incentives and online spaces for engagement to improve communities. Ian Yolles, Chief Sustainability Officer,Recyclebank
  7. Make it personal. SAP provides carbon footprint analysis that allows companies to pinpoint the energy use of individual plants, consumers to monitor their energy use and analyze savings and employees their personal carbon footprints.  Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer, SAP.
  8. Decouple economic activity from material throughput. By 2050, global carbon intensity needs to be only 6 grams per dollar of output – 130 times lower than today’s figure of 770g per dollar. Peck described a “Great Transition” in which we shift paradigms—from a growth as prosperity paradigm to a wellbeing as prosperity paradigm. Jules Peck, Partner, Abundancy Partners, UK.

Cynthia FiggeCofounder and COO of CSRHub is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement. In 1996 she co-founded EKOS International, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, and REI to help craft sustainability strategy integrated with business. She was an Officer of LIN Broadcasting/McCaw Cellular leading new services development, and started a new “Greenfield” mill with Weyerhaeuser. She serves as Advisor to media and technology companies, and served as President of the Board of Sustainable Seattle. Cynthia has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Cynthia is based in the Seattle area.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on nearly 5,000 companies from 135 industries in 65 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.CSRHub rates 12 indicators of employee, environment, community and governance performance and flags many special issues. We offer subscribers immediate access to millions of detailed data points from our 140-plus data sources. Our data comes from six socially responsible investing firms, well-known indexes, publications, “best of” or “worst of” lists, NGOs, crowd sources and government agencies. By aggregating and normalizing the information from these sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links each rating point back to its source.

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  1. Corporate sustainability through branding is one of the most important means to not only innovate, but to maintain greater customer satisfaction. Consumers respond to companies that encourage sustainable practices, given greater efficiency and cost-savings for companies to drive innovation. To read more about how corporate sustainability can impact your brand, visit

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