A few weeks ago, I attended the 2013 Net Impact Conference in San Jose, Calif., a three-day immersion into the conference theme of, “Change Starts Here.” As mentioned in the blog posted before the conference kicked off, we are strong believers in the power of collaboration and creativity to affect meaningful change. I’d like to commend Net Impact for bringing together people from around the world to discuss ideas on how to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.
During the conference, I had the privilege of leading two roundtable discussions, the first with business leaders and sustainability experts. The group jumped into a lively discussion of key drivers for successful sustainability initiatives and the benefit of buy-in from the top during the planning phase. Though we covered a lot of ideas in that session, one key point of agreement was the need for sustainability leaders to be able to speak the same language as the leaders of the company. This creates a crucial link that allows sustainability and corporate responsibility departments to showcase why these initiatives are good for business.
The second roundtable consisted of mostly MBA students. As these are the next generation of business leaders, we focused on how workplace environments can influence the way employees feel about their company. I shared my own experiences with workplace environments and discussed why LEED certification is a priority for Adobe (currently 24 of our facilities are LEED certified with 17 certified at the LEED Platinum level). Just last week our sparkling new Lehi, Utah workplace achieved LEED Gold certification. We place a premium on green building because it enables us to operate with greater efficiency, thus reducing costs over time, and reduce our impact on the planet. Sustainability innovation also challenges us to rethink and reuse. I’m still inspired by our San Francisco office located on 601 Townsend. At the ripe old age of 103, it sits as the oldest LEED Platinum building in the U.S., running on about 50% of renewables.
As with any roundtable discussion, different points of view are shared. It was encouraging to see that everyone agrees that sustainability is good for business – it is innovative, it is forward-thinking and it works. I look forward to continuing these sustainability conversations here.
It is truly conference season. With barely a week behind us since Net Impact, we are looking forward to the 2013 BSR Conference that kicking off in San Francisco on November 5. This year’s conference will look at how to harness the power of networks of all kinds –from social to business to multi-stakeholder– to ensure a sustainable future, a big topic to take on in four days.
I’m excited to start off this year’s conference with the opening night cocktail reception, hosted by Adobe. The theme of the night is “How Creativity Can Change the World.” Join @Adobe and me (@MichelleAYates) on Twitter with the hashtag #BSR13 throughout the event – we’re planning something special that you won’t want to miss!
With more than 100 speakers at the conference, conversations around networking and CSR are guaranteed to be varied and insightful. Here are three sessions I’m particularly interested to attend:
1. Leadership in Action: In Conversation with Participant Media
- When: Wednesday, November 6, 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
- Why I’m attending: Not only is Jack Berk, CEO of Participant Media, a great speaker, he is a fellow creativity enabler. His global entertainment company focuses on content for the big, small and mobile screens that address social campaigns and inspire social change. This aligns closely with our Creative Confidence mission through the AYV program and I’m interested to hear about he encourages creativity at his company every day.
2. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Data and Design for Impact
- When: Thursday, November 7, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
- Why I’m attending: This is a two hour, hands-on session focused on bringing creativity into data visualization, something we are very familiar with at Adobe. The session will be a great opportunity to brainstorm with fellow attendees on how to engage audiences while sharing updates on sustainability goals.
3. Brave New York: The Impact on Social Media Networks on Sustainability Reporting
- When: Friday, November 8, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Why I’m attending: Sustainability reports are a big lift – we’re speaking from experience having just completed a five year data update ourselves—but they rarely reach their intended audience: our customers. Social media is no longer a new form of communication, but it does still offer new methods of interactions and increased transparency. I look forward to talking about how to bring reporting to the social level.
If you are not planning on attending make sure to follow the conversation online with the hashtag #BSR13. I’ll be tweeting during the four days as well from @MichelleAYates.
Today kicks of the first day of the Net Impact 2013 Conference, taking place down the street from Adobe at the San Jose Convention Center. For three days, a few thousand thinkers and doers will arrive in Silicon Valley to participate in workshops, panels, discussions and social events, all focused on using resources and new information to influence positive change in the workplace and the world. The theme of this year’s conference is “Change Starts Here,” which is a sentiment we share at Adobe. We are firm believers in the power of collaboration and creativity to disrupt the status quo and are excited to partner with an organization echoing these ideas.
This year, two of our own will be speaking at the conference. On Friday, October 25, Adobe sustainability strategist Vince Digneo will lead a round table discussion with other CR professionals. Their talk will focus on day-to-day corporate social responsibility challenges, from how to engage employees in a company’s sustainability missions to integrating corporate responsibility into general business planning. Check back here for a recap of key findings and insights after the conference.
On Saturday, October 26 Patricia Cogley, senior program manager for Adobe Youth Voices, will lead a TED-style talk titled “Education Trends Paving the Way for Societal Change.” Patricia will explore the connection between current trends in education, the creativity gap in education and the impact creativity can have on young people’s sense of self and their aspirations. This trend is one of the reasons we are so proud of the work we’re doing through the Adobe Youth Voices program, which looks to partner with educators to bring creativity back into the classroom.
I’m excited to see what the next few days will hold. At Adobe, we make it a priority to partner with organizations like Net Impact who are dedicated both to igniting creative confidence in youth and helping local communities thrive. Net Impact recognizes the need to find new ways to address the problems facing the world today, from poverty to climate change to health epidemics, and believes that empowering the next generation early on is a key to future success. Their student engagement program is a great platform to encourage future leaders to get creative and share ideas on how to drive social change in their everyday life.
Be sure to follow the conversation around Net Impact on twitter with the hashtag #NI13. I’ll be sharing my thoughts periodically from @MichelleAYates.