Last Friday, as the week came to a close, I jumped into B Lab Australia and New Zealand’s closing event for B Corp Month. This was straight after wrapping up a guest presentation to landscape architecture students at RMIT. It was a pleasure to reflect upon and share my experiences working with Aboriginal Elders and communities around Australia.
I was just in time to catch Lorna Davis, Global Ambassador for B Corp and ex CEO at Danone North America. One of her pearls of wisdom surrounded the importance of empathy in business leadership. Check out her TED talk for more on that. I managed to sneak in the last question of the session, “Once a business has all of its ‘impact infrastructure’ in place, i.e. B Corp certification and SDG alignment, how important is it to shift the goal posts beyond Sustainability towards Regeneration?” I had to clarify that I didn’t mean ecosystem restoration, but rather, integrated positive impact across community, ecology, culture and economy. (as per our regenerative framework)
Lorna’s response was insightful. On the one hand she talked about “meeting people where they are”. Many businesses are only getting started with the SDGs and for most CEO’s B Corp certification is still on the to-do list. From another perspective, she conceded that it was critical to be working on the “next horizon” so that in 10 year’s time the path forward is clear. To that she exclaimed “So, lead us!”
Photo: Aboriginal cultural space at Peninsula Hot Springs, designed in collaboration with Boon Wurrung Elder N'arweet Carolyn Briggs and Yuin Elder Uncle Max 'Dulumunmun' Harrison
It was exactly the kind of intergenerational exchange that I was talking about in a recent blog. Here you have one of the world’s leading sustainability heroines and this young guy from Melbourne pretty much saying, “Come on, let’s keep going! Let’s go beyond sustainability.”
There’s plans underway to build on this conversation, but it really reminded me that change has always come from relentless pioneers. As Steve Jobs would say, “the crazy ones”. It was only months ago that I was talking about Regenerative Tourism and progressive colleagues were looking at me in bewilderment. Now New Zealand is weaving it into their tourism strategy. Or think about Dumbo Feather’s upcoming Masterclass and Introduction to Regenerative Business with pioneer Carol Sanford. How many times must she have seen people roll their eyes in business meetings and think, “what is this lady banging on about?!”
Time is a funny thing. Those who, in the words of another sustainable business pioneer Yvon Chouinard, “stay the course” seem to find their own validation.
So, keep the fire in your belly burning Melbourne.
We’re going to need it!
Photo: Campfire storytelling at larapuna /
Eddystone Point on the wukalina Walk