Guest Post by Matias Bendersky, Unit Chief, Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Unit, Inter-American Development Bank
Brands today face increasing expectations from ever more Empowered Consumers who hold businesses to higher standards than ever before. This Empowered Consumer is driven by values—she looks beyond affordability and quality to brands’ impact on individuals, communities, and societies. She is informed—she has access to more information than has ever been available, and has the ability to cultivate a deeper knowledge of companies’ operations and the footprint they leave behind. She is connected—she lives in an age in which more than a billion tweets, Facebook posts, and blog updates are published daily, and can instantly voice her satisfaction—or lack thereof—with brands who operate in unsustainable ways. And she has the power to be selective—she has access to as many as 140,000 products at today’s largest megastore, and can take business away from those that fail to operate sustainably in favor of those that do.
To thrive in this new context where The Empowered Consumer holds more knowledge and power than ever before, businesses are increasingly looking to integrate sustainability into their operations. Yet while companies have long been in the business of generating profit, generating social and environmental returns comes less naturally, with many struggling to identify how to link social good to their core business, and lacking the capacity to measure their efforts. Given that development actors increasingly rely on corporate participation to achieve viability and innovation, it’s clear that challenges are faced by the public, private, and non-profit sectors alike: development actors must involve companies to make their efforts inventive and sustainable, while businesses looking to stay competitive must engage in development to effect the root causes of social problems where they do business or to better integrate sustainability into their business practices, but lack the skills to do so effectively.
So how are we to fill this gap? We at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) believe the answer lies in empowering today’s leaders to think and do things differently. In Montreal this July, we will be doing just that. In partnership with the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University, ranked among the top 25 universities globally, and Google, we have developed an executive education certificate program which strives to give today’s professionals the collaborative, 360° approach they need to bring these worlds together. From July 25 - 29, the “Real Development, a Good Business Strategy? Closing the Gap” program will tap into the expertise of McGill faculty, IDB specialists, and forward-thinking actors like the Calvert Foundation, Google, Novozymes, PepsiCo, and The Coca-Cola Company to help participants rethink how they think. Exploring the question, “is real development a good business strategy?” participants will leave this program with a clear answer, and a deep understanding of how to transform their organizations for the better. Register today.