Gland, February 2017 – Sustainability Management School (SUMAS) Round Table took place on January 31st 2017 at the Impact Hub Geneva, Switzerland. Nearly 70 industry professionals, stakeholders and students came together to discuss how sustainability has gained an increasingly important role for societal and business-related decisions.
SUMAS was honoured to welcome a number of distinguished speakers to this Round Table:
Virginie HELIAS, Global Sustainability Vice President, Procter & Gamble
Denis GEFFROY, Corporate Communications Director, L’Occitane en Provence
René LONGET, journalist and sustainability expert, author of several publications
The round table was moderated by Hans Bender, Professor at Sustainability Management School and former VP at Procter & Gamble.
Introducing the event, Hans Bender recognized that “The economic landscape is changing. Consumers trust in brands is declining worldwide as society’s expectations are rising with regards to responsible, transparent behaviour. The good news, however, is that there are, indeed, an increasing number of businesses that are courageous to shift their vision and find new ways to deliver shared value and create positive impact at scale. Moving towards sustainable business requires fundamental changes in human attitudes and behavior, which is critically dependent on education and awareness. Education needs to urgently reach out to the business leaders of tomorrow and enable them to take responsible decisions in the complex world. In this area, Sustainability Management School has been on the forefront to reshape education in order to influence a business culture of sustainability.”
Denis GEFFROY from L’Occitane en Provence shared how Ever since it was founded in 1976, L’Occitane has nurtured simple values: authenticity, respect, and sensoriality. This is more than a philosophy; it is a commitment that, over the years, has influenced many of important decisions. All of their actions and choices are guided by a twofold desire: to preserve and to pass on. It is this that gives their brand its life force, its meaning and its purpose. The company has recognized that sustainability is the key to a resilient business that continues to grow in the light of more challenging market standards, better-educated consumers and more demanding employees.
Virginie HELIAS from Procter & Gamble (P&G) explained how a wide-ranging array of manufacturing, marketing, and sales processes can be embedded effectively from the top in order to successfully integrate sustainability into a complex business environment and gain the trust and engagement of management. The participants also had the privilege of her presenting the latest P&G breakthrough in the area of responsible marketing: the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from recycled beach plastic, introduced by the Head&Shoulders brand.
The final word belonged to René Longet: he passionately appealed to the public to continue challenging the status quo and not to settle for vague compromises when it comes to responsible business development and consumption. Our planet, its limited resources and how we exploit them must be at the heart of profound discussions to reinvent the notion of progress.
SUMAS would like to thank all speakers, participants, and students for lively and stimulating discussions during this event. SUMAS offers free access to video excerpts and the presentations from the conference upon registering on www.sumas.ch