May 052011
Just back from the excellent Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Summit. The biggest and best crowd of speakers and delegates yet, and a sharp agenda. A highlight for me was to be asked to present the Lifetime Achievement Award at the awards dinner on Tuesday. The recipient is a close friend and colleague of mine – you can see who won and what I said about him here

I chaired an interesting discussion led by Transparency International, Greenpeace and Christian Aid on how they handle business relations, from positive engagement to playing hardball. All three organisations are sophisticated in how they design their formal (and informal) liaison with business. Loretta Minghella gave a powerful speech about the moral imperative to end poverty, and described some of the distressing things she had seen in her first year as Christian Aid’s Director. As she put it – ‘I hope you never have to see what I’ve seen’. Charlie Cronick was blunt and entertaining in equal measure about Greenpeace’s climate activism – pointing out that the company that makes the world’s greenest car also lobbied heavily against legislation in California that would have required less pollution from the automotive industry. Jermyn Brooks from TI shared the golden rules for corporate engagement of NGO stakeholders. 

In the graveyard shift (4.45pm on day 2 of a packed agenda), we managed a somewhat lively discussion about how to engage marketing and brand directors on sustainability issues. I had noticed that of the 450 plus delegates at the conference, very few if any were marketing directors. They all appeared for the awards dinner on Tuesday evening though. A revealing symbol of some of the challenges we face in connecting sustainability directors with their marketing colleagues.. .

Ethical Corporation will be releasing the audio of all key sessions in a couple of weeks so you can check their site if missed the event but want to catch up on any content. 

Lastly, we’ve redesigned and updated the Robertsbridge Group website – do drop in! 

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