Center for Sustainable Business Hosts Semi-Annual Forum

The University of Pittsburgh Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) hosted its semi-annual Sustainable Business Forum (SBF) on February 26 and 27, 2020. For this inaugural meeting, discussion centered around the theme: “The Role of Corporate Purpose in Driving Sustainability Strategy.” The forum served as a collaborative environment for sponsors and participants to network and knowledge-share on best practices, challenges and experiences in implementing more sustainable business strategies.

The approach brought together sustainability managers from leading companies with their colleagues from other departments to demonstrate the linkages between sustainability and corporate purpose in other functional areas, such as strategy, marketing and government affairs. Event participants included many of the CSB’s corporate sponsors: CONSOL Energy, Enel North America, Peoples Natural Gas, PITT OHIO, PPG and Tarkett.

Attendees returned to their companies with actionable ideas and insights. “PITT OHIO is working on an initiative to strengthen and sharpen our communication around our sustainability strategy,” says Geoffrey Muessig, the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “Attending the SBF provided me with some strategic and practical insights that I will certainly leverage in the coming year.”

“The vision, mission and purpose are the what, the how and the why businesses exist. It was clear to me that Tarkett, although a thought leader in sustainability, lacks a purpose,” says Dhruv Raina, product stewardship director at Tarkett USA Inc. “This key element that aligns and propels teams forward was evident when other businesses shared their perspective. I took this back to Tarkett to evaluate how we may define ours and embed within the company.”

The meeting also featured keynote presentations from Michael Bzdak of Johnson & Johnson and from Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University. Through these lectures and active workshop sessions, attendees learned about sustainable strategies in a variety of industries and contexts, including how triple bottom line strategies—people, planet and profit—create value for different functional areas within the company.

“The Center for Sustainable Business promotes sustainable business practices including circular approaches. We believe this includes the promotion of waste-to-energy biogas technology and waste management, among others,” says William A. Sapon, clean energy and transportation advisor for Peoples Natural Gas. “The lessons learned and knowledge shared among corporate participants are a great example of the goals of the Center. We are proud to be a partner with the Center to help redefine and connect sustainability to corporate purpose.”

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