The Sustainable Brands Conference 2011

I’m at the Sustainable Brands 2011 conference in Monterey this week;  I’m really excited. It’s the fifth year that leading executives from around the world will gather to share ideas and experiences of how to drive corporate change that provides shared economic, environmental and social value.

I’ve had the good fortune to speak at many conferences around the country, but this is the conference to top all others, and this year it’s my turn to speak. I’ll be sharing the stage with noted author and sustainability guru Gil Friend and we’ll be putting on a workshop about calculating the Return On Investment for sustainability programs. Basically, our job is to show executives how to justify sustainability programs beyond “it’s just the right thing to do.” As you can imagine, in today’s economic environment, all kinds of corporate programs are under pressure to justify their existence – and sustainability is no different.

You might imagine that the race to the top of the sustainability pyramid is a fierce competition between companies. In fact, the opposite is true. At this conference, sustainability practitioners band together to help change corporate America while freely sharing ideas and expertise — even with our competition — to multiply the benefits of our individual efforts.

It’s kind of a group of friends running their first marathon together. Sure, someone’s going to finish first, but that’s the person who runs back to give encouragement to their friends to get them across the finish line – it’s less group-hug like than it sounds, really. Instead, the Sustainable Brands Conference is just a bunch of smart business managers who are determined to drive change for the benefit of the environment, society and our companies.

I always come away with inspirational stories from this conference and will look forward to sharing them with you next week.