Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Jochen Zeitz, co-founder and co-chair of the recently announced B Team (the other co-founder and co-chair is Sir Richard Branson). For those of you who don’t know Jochen. He is Director of Kering and Chairman of the board’s sustainable development committee and has served 18 years as Chairman and CEO at PUMA. ‘…..upon becoming PUMA’s CEO in 1993, Zeitz turned it from an undesired brand nearing bankruptcy into one of the top 3 brands in the sporting goods industry’.
We started out discussing our joint passion visiting and spending time in Africa, but we quickly moved to business. The discussion starter was SAP’s interest and leadership in the topic of ‘Integrated Reporting’, and Pumas ground-breaking work on creating an environmental profit and loss account, now rolled out across the entire Kering group. At the time of our discussion the B Team was not officially launched, and we discussed a potential involvement of SAP. Jochen’s vision was to launch the B Team as a not-for-profit initiative formed by a group of global business leaders to ‘…create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit’. Jochen explained to me that while Pumas E P&L received great attention in the marketplace, and while there are already E P&L followers creating their own E P&L, most of them are reluctant to go public because of a lacking abatement and optimization strategies. But for the first time companies now see how big their damage to the environment really is. As a result, the B Team plans upon launch to incubate a consortium to standardize the Environmental Profit and Loss (E P&L) solution.
Our breakfast meeting was at the Brainstorm Green conference, where Jochen had a plenary session. In his session Jochen later picked on ‘…quarterly earnings as a particular evil, since they prevent business leaders from investing for the long term’.
‘No matter how you think as a businessman, you end up thinking about quarterly earnings’, he said.
‘The answer is not just about more efficiency. For sustainable solutions, you have to invest first in order to reap the benefits in the future. This is what is really holding us back as no one wants to hear it. We have to move away from a single bottom line to something that is more inclusive. True impacts require true innovation and this is why we need to move away from short–termism.’
As a result of our truly inspiring meeting, SAP was invited to join the B Team. While for various reasons SAP did not join the founder circle, we agreed on a loosely coupled collaboration along the first project cycle of the B Team, namely the E P&L project.
Meanwhile the B Team has launched with big fanfare. It will be interesting to follow along and see how this remarkable team will move the needle. I’ll do my best to keep everybody posted……but feel free to learn more about the B Team on their Facebook pages.