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Straight Talk – Character Tops Charisma: CEOs for Sustainability

This week’s public debut of the CEOs for Sustainability executive council featured a terrific event, “Bottom-Line Benefits of Corporate Sustainability”, held in collaboration with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

The presentations by representatives of CEOs for Sustainability (including Jerry MacCleary, Covestro; Ron Gdovic, WindStax Energy; Jeff Broadhurst, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group; and Chuck Hammel, PITT OHIO) were a reminder of what Sustainable Pttsburgh has come to appreciate about corporate leaders driving the sustainable business revolution.

The CEOs for Sustainability, to a T, share some common characteristics.  Far from sociologist Max Weber’s view of charisma being “a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men,” the CEOs for Sustainability lead and inspire through an abiding genuineness and humility. These are qualities that spring from being real, approachable individuals.

It’s not just who they are, but what they do, that distinguish these champions for sustainability:

  • setting a compelling vision steeped in their values and fostering a culture of excellence;
  • thinking beyond today to their companies’ success under successors;
  • investing in a diverse and inclusive pool of talent and providing opportunity, both in their workforce and in the community;
  • staying attuned to international trends;
  • understanding what is material to the success of their businesses and to the region in which they are afforded a social “license to operate”;
  • doing the right thing, even when it doesn’t pencil out in the short term;
  • sharing with peers lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid in implementing sustainable business practices;
  • demonstrating a readiness to learn and desire to hear what others have to say;
  • showing respect for community engagement and advocacy at the hands of NGOs.

The CEOs for Sustainability share 100 percent achievement in the SWPA Sustainable Business Compact On Ramp.  The On Ramp enables businesses to benchmark their sustainability performance and start on a pathway to increasing levels of best practices, measurement, and reporting.

Rather than setting them apart, the character of these CEOs is what connects them to their employees and communities.  Through their leadership, we are inspired to follow and empowered to be agents for creating a more prosperous region and better quality of life for all.