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New York: Collaboration and commitment

In June 2012, BSR CEO Aron Cramer led a discussion in New York that featured Beth Comstock, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the General Electric Company.

In a discussion about what’s required for future progress in sustainability, highlights included:

The role of partnerships: Comstock noted that collaboration, knowledge-sharing, listening and establishing a common mission have been key to GE’s successes in sustainability. This includes taking customer desires to heart, working across sectors to achieve goals and investing for the long term.

Commitment and impact: Credibility is also important, which is why GE has focused on metrics and demonstrating impact. Without a shared value system and the integration of sustainability into overall company strategy, success will be difficult. When companies publicly share their commitment to sustainability and are transparent about their real impact, they can increase brand value.

Bottom-up solutions: Going forward, Cramer and Comstock discussed how to inspire positive change. Cramer said this will happen through “bottom-up” solutions. Comstock suggested that when national governments fail, companies and local governments must take the lead on sustainability challenges. She predicted that the next 10 years will be difficult, but there is hope: Companies increasingly accept that sustainability planning is a cost of doing business as consumers shift to prioritize sustainability.

Slideshow written content by Eva Dienel and Julia Robinson, Shutterstock
Photo of New York Central Park skyline provided by Songquan Deng via Shutterstock