“The most important right we have, is the right to be responsible” - Gerald Amos
I saw this amazing quote when I read the great Yvon Chounard’s "The Responsible Company". This seminal book came out in 2012, when Amy and I were grad students in MCAD’s sustainable design program. We were friends, designers and technologists who wanted to make a difference. What we eventually realized is that building responsible products and companies is about more than just making a difference - it is an existential call to action that life must answer. Heeding that call set us on the path of entrepreneurship in 2021.
We believe capitalism is evolving—no, must evolve—because the current way of doing business is not ecologically, socially, or financially sustainable. Responsible companies of the future will measure their wealth based on how they produce returns for all their stakeholders—shareholders, employees, communities, and nature. Sustainability leaders will become champions of this new movement, working alongside decision-makers at all business levels. They will need new tools and decision support systems that proactively create strategies and products that reduce impacts. Our future corporations will need a new business operating system. That is why we are building Ecocrumb.
It is a challenging time to be a sustainability professional. In our interviews with over one hundred sustainability leaders, we often came across resource-constrained teams with never-ending to-do lists. They spend much of their time researching and gathering information for constantly changing ratings and retrospective reports, and they worry that their company is not making enough progress on public sustainability goals. All of this can be disheartening. Many leaders told us how they feel siloed in their work and desire more collaboration and camaraderie with their colleagues. Instead, they are bombarded with hundreds of ESG tools that are drowning them in data and charts without context. Software is failing them by solving the wrong problem.
On top of all that, sustainability professionals spend up to half their time on reporting. While transparency and reporting are important, it can quickly become a distraction. One sustainability officer at a Fortune 500 company told us that focusing only on reporting is like driving while looking in the rear-view mirror. We cannot move forward if we are always looking back.
The real work to be done is engaging stakeholders through storytelling and collaboration to bring about enduring change. It is peering into the future with your business partners and defining a strategy that navigates risks, captures opportunities, and liberates business value through sustainability. Right now, this work of fusing sustainability into business happens serendipitously. Ecocrumb will make that happen every day, intentionally and across the organization.
For example, one of our customers is engaging his business stakeholders by sourcing project information in the platform and identifying opportunities to collaborate. Another has given us ideas on how to build ways to collaboratively define strategy, set goals, and measure progress. They are taking the content that already exists buried in annual reports, disclosures, emails, and post-it notes to draw out new opportunities and create business value.
While there are challenges ahead, we are optimistic.
Sustainability is no longer a “nice to have” or a “check the box” exercise. It is the next echelon of business risk and opportunity. There are strong tailwinds and we have sustainability leaders who are talented, resourceful, and resolute. They are amazing people who deserve amazing technology. They need tools that will give them superpowers to move us from a culture of compliance to a culture of profitable purpose.
That is why we are building Ecocrumb.