Shaping companies sustainably and responsibly

01.03.2016

Shaping companies sustainably and responsibly

“What does sustainable action mean today and what are the perspectives?” was the central question of the 8th Forum on 1st March 2016.

Jürgen Welzel, Head of Marketing at Steyler Ethik Bank, opened his talk saying that sustainability is a bulky and rather abstract term. It quickly leads to a black and white way of thinking, which tends to entail blocking the way to a solution for current challenges. He recommends going for dialogue – even with those individuals, organisations and companies that so far have hardly ever thought about more sustainable business management. In such a way, step by step, we will be contributing towards anchoring sustainability as a clear criterion in the centre of the worlds of economics and finance.

Dr. Benedikt Holtbernd, Artistic Director of the German Music Council, confirmed the lasting effect of entering into dialogue with each other. He found this confirmed, in particular, in the context of musical exchange between amateur musicians and professionals, and when opening up music funding programmes to include new musical genres and international influences. These are clear indicators that the arts sector is facing up to the realities of an ever changing society. In any event, music can teach a lot about sustainability, as more than any other discipline it promotes networking and community building.

Especially in multi-stakeholder processes, it is elementary to establish a spirit of alliance, said Werner Lange from the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles. The challenge lies in the task of getting all stakeholders together around a table and developing a common awareness of the challenges facing the various players (companies, trade unions, NGOs …). Sustainable change is in fact only possible if everybody is genuinely ready for this change of perspective. After all, it is about hard economic consequences and the implementation of a new effect logic.

In addition, the science journalist and producer Martin Riebe explained how complex topics such as sustainability can be visualized. His theory: “We can lead by stories”. He explained that stories help us understanding facts and how to relate to them. Therefore, he always singles out one aspect of a topic in order to develop a story around it. He does this using a protagonist who is faced with a problem that must be solved – for example as a means to explain how an “Energy From Ice” heating system can be a sustainable and energy-saving heating alternative.

The evening’s golden thread was the understanding that sustainability has ceased to be a ridiculed topic, and that it matters more and more in both business as in the wider society. This shift in awareness opens up long-term prospects, which can turn out to be highly financially advantageous. Their identification is particularly important. If new entrepreneurial behaviours are being established now, they have the potential to spread out and multiply.

The stimulus speakers of the event were:

  • Dr. Benedikt Holtbernd | Artistic Director of Deutscher Musikrat (German music council)
  • Werner Lange | Office of the Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien (alliance for sustainable textiles)
  • Martin Riebe | Science journalist and producer
  • Jürgen Welzel | Head of Marketing and PR, Sales Management, Steyler Ethik Bank
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