In a gathering that coincided with the final days of the COP26 climate conference of global leaders, CEOs for Sustainability hosted this year’s C-Suite Summit on Wednesday, November 10. The event featured C-Suite executives from private and publicly traded companies sharing honest perspectives on achievements at their businesses–achievements that are building on the group’s Leading Forward priorities for a more resilient, equitable economy and advancing strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.
The 41 companies participating in CEOs for Sustainability represent more than $150 billion in total revenues and 100,000 employees. This group is believed to be the only network in the United States providing regional thought leadership around business sustainability.
During the Summit, keynote speaker Lisa Conway, Vice President of Sustainability, Americas at Interface Inc., called on C-Suite executives to join Interface in advancing its Climate Take Back strategy, which aims to help reverse global warming. She described climate change as the biggest existential threat to humanity. According to a September 2021 report by Yale University and George Mason University, an all-time record of 70% of Americans are concerned about global warming. Noting this, Ms. Conway encouraged Summit participants to unlock the potential for innovation by allowing employees to engage.
“They are interested,” she said. “Allow them to engage and innovate. Channel the passion of people in your organization.”
A global flooring manufacturer, Interface has pursued what it deemed “Moonshot Goals” to transform into arguably the world’s most sustainable industrial company. The company produces all carbon-neutral products throughout their entire life-cycle.
Following Ms. Conway’s remarks, a panel of CEOs for Sustainability leaders shared their commitments to sustainability as a business imperative and reinforced the role that leadership, company culture, and invested employees play in advancing sustainability.
In 2020, the CEOs group identified three priorities that underscore sustainability as a demonstrated strategy for prosperity:
- Advance racial and ethnic equity;
- Support local businesses and communities;
- Reduce carbon emissions.
Progress toward each of these goals was reported by local companies. Some examples:
Family-owned Giant Eagle has progressed on its Standing Up Against Racism Commitments, in part by achieving its goal of doubling the number of Black-owned businesses it works with in 2021. The company is on track to do so for the next four years.
The Choose Local campaign, hosted by CEOs for Sustainability and Sustainable Pittsburgh, launched earlier this year to encourage consumers throughout the 7-county region to shop local. A directory of nearly 2,000 local businesses is available at ChooseLocalPGH.org.
And based on year-to-date performance, DMI Companies is on track to divert 2,800 tons of waste from landfill–an amount projected to offset emissions from its manufacturing processes more than 500% in 2021.
More than ever, meaningful progress on ESG issues depends on collaborative leadership and peer exchange. This interactive, virtual morning summit, combined with an in-person tour and reception later in the day, helped navigate pandemic concerns while providing connection and inspiration for Summit participants.
In addition to the practical guidance and experiences shared by the CEOs for Sustainability leaders, during the closing remarks, Sustainable Pittsburgh shared tools available for businesses to continue to advance their sustainability efforts. In addition to staff expertise, the Leading Forward Roadmap provides a strategic framework for business action on the three CEOs for Sustainability Leading Forward priorities. Each of the three sections of the Roadmap corresponds to a priority area and contains strategic steps, customizable tools, and regional resources. Additionally, Sustainable Pittsburgh announced a new online platform for its sustainability recognition programs. Businesses and other organizations are invited to the kickoff event on December 8: Tracking and Measuring Sustainability Progress. Registration available here.
2021 C-Suite Summit list of presenters:
- Lisa Conway,VP Sustainability, Americas at Interface Inc.
- CEOs for Sustainability leadership, including:
- Co-Chair Charles Toran, President of Sci-Tek Consultants
- Co-Chair Ray Yeager, President and CEO of DMI Companies
- Additional CEOs for Sustainability Leaders
- Leroy Ball, President and CEO, Koppers
- Mary Beth Jenkins, Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative & Operating Officer, UPMC Health Plan
- Ron C. Keating, President and CEO, Evoqua Water Technologies
- Jana Lake, President, 3R Sustainability
- David Landis, President, EPIC Metals Corporation
- Kurt Lesker IV, President and CEO, Kurt J. Lesker Company
- Andrew JG Schwartz, Studio Director, Environmental Planning and Design
About CEOs for Sustainability
The CEOs for Sustainability executive roundtable is an outcomes-based leadership network for C-suite leaders to share best practices and collaborate in growing the ranks of those that enjoy the benefits of strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. Participating companies represent more than $150 billion in total revenues and 100,000 employees. CEOs for Sustainability recognizes that prosperous businesses are at the foundation of a thriving, equitable region. CEOs for Sustainability is hosted by the nonprofit Sustainable Pittsburgh. More information at CEOsforSustainability.org.
CEOs for Sustainability current membership:
3R Sustainability | AE Works | Accenture Pittsburgh | Aquatech International | Architectural Innovations, LLC | AUROS Group | Burns & Scalo Roofing | Covestro LLC | Duquesne Light Co. | DMI Companies | Eat’n Park Hospitality | Eaton Corp. | eLoop LLC | Environmental Planning & Design | EPIC Metals Corp. | Evoqua Water Technologies | Giant Eagle | Huckestein Mechanical Services | IKEA Pittsburgh | Koppers | Kurt J. Lesker Co. | LANXESS | Leybold N.A. | Montauk Renewables | Optimus Technologies | Oriden LLC | Oxford Development | Pashek+MTR | PITT OHIO | Pittsburgh Pirates | The Ruskin Group | Sargent Electric | Scalo Solar Solutions | Sci-Tek Consultants | Seven Springs Mountain Resort | Signature Financial Planning | Thar Energy | The Efficiency Network: TEN | Turner | UPMC Health Plan | WindStax Energy