Q&A with Sustainability Expert Dr. Chris Laszlo
Can sustainable business practices give your company an edge? Absolutely, says Dr. Chris Laszlo, author of the new book "Sustainable Value: How the World’s Leading Companies Are Doing Well by Doing Good." Lazlo will present the opening keynote address at the next Signage and Graphics Summit, Jan. 26-28, 2009, at Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA. Here’s a preview of some of the issues his presentation will address:
SGS: Why should executives in the signage and graphics industry be particularly attentive to sustainability?
CL: Signage companies face continued customer demands for products that are lower cost and better performing. Increasingly, environmental factors such as lower material intensity, waste minimization, and energy efficiency are ways these companies can reduce their costs. But cost reduction, tighter regulation and social responsibility are only the tip of the iceberg. Signage and graphics leaders will find greater business benefits from meeting new customer expectations for greener products that don’t require any tradeoffs in either price or quality. The key is innovation. Sustainability provides a lens through which to rethink not only product design but also supply chain relationships.
SGS: We’re in the midst of very uncertain times. Why should SGS attendees consider sustainability during an economic downturn?
CL: The conventional wisdom is that sustainability is a “nice to have” and not a “need to have” during tough economic times. But on the contrary, there may be no better time to reorient your strategies along these lines. As has been made very clear in the financial sector, companies risk complete annihilation today if their reputation and confidence evaporates. The sub-prime mess has illustrated the huge costs of not accounting for the risks of unsustainable business practices. The clients’ definition of where business value comes from is shifting rapidly. As always, you gain a competitive advantage by being able to create stakeholder value better than others, and health and social concerns are becoming increasingly important in the final buying decision.
SGS: Can you realistically be green and profitable at the same time?
CL: Wal-Mart, GE, DuPont and Toyota are proof that large companies can be green and profitable at the same time. Fairmount Minerals, Green Mountain Coffee Roaster, Interface and many other smaller companies are demonstrating that “green is green,” no matter what sector or size. These companies, and hundreds more like them, are looking to their vendors to not just conform to sustainability initiatives, but to lead the way through innovation. That’s why this topic is so critical for the attendees of The Signage and Graphics Summit. Being green isn’t about meeting environmental targets for their own sake. It’s about advancing your existing business priorities.
Dr. Chris Laszlo consults with Fortune 500 companies on sustainability and social responsibility initiatives that create business value and competitive strength. He’ll share case studies and best practices in his SGS keynote session, Sustainability for Competitive Advantage.
For more information about the Signage and Graphics Summit and Dr. Lazlo’s presentation, visit www.signageandgraphics.com.
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