Speaking the Same Language

The Intersection of Business and Sustainability
Nov 26, 2013 2:00 PM ET

A few weeks ago, I attended the 2013 Net Impact Conference in San Jose, Calif., a three-day immersion into the conference theme of, “Change Starts Here.” As mentioned in the blog posted before the conference kicked off, we are strong believers in the power of collaboration and creativity to affect meaningful change. I’d like to commend Net Impact for bringing together people from around the world to discuss ideas on how to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.

During the conference, I had the privilege of leading two roundtable discussions, the first with business leaders and sustainability experts. The group jumped into a lively discussion of key drivers for successful sustainability initiatives and the benefit of buy-in from the top during the planning phase. Though we covered a lot of ideas in that session, one key point of agreement was the need for sustainability leaders to be able to speak the same language as the leaders of the company. This creates a crucial link that allows sustainability and corporate responsibility departments to showcase why these initiatives are good for business.

The second roundtable consisted of mostly MBA students. As these are the next generation of business leaders, we focused on how workplace environments can influence the way employees feel about their company. I shared my own experiences with workplace environments and discussed why LEED certification is a priority for Adobe (currently 24 of our facilities are LEED certified with 17 certified at the LEED Platinum level). Just last week our sparkling new Lehi, Utah workplace achieved LEED Gold certification. We place a premium on green building because it enables us to operate with greater efficiency, thus reducing costs over time, and reduce our impact on the planet. Sustainability innovation also challenges us to rethink and reuse. I’m still inspired by our San Francisco office located on 601 Townsend. At the ripe old age of 103, it sits as the oldest LEED Platinum building in the U.S., running on about 50% of renewables.

As with any roundtable discussion, different points of view are shared. It was encouraging to see that everyone agrees that sustainability is good for business – it is innovative, it is forward-thinking and it works.  I look forward to continuing these sustainability conversations here.