The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) concluded the sixth annual Retail Sustainability Conference yesterday morning in Orlando, FL. The three-day summit provided industry executives with educational opportunities, exposure to emerging trends and insight into successful retail sustainability initiatives.
The final day of the conference opened with an unprecedented panel discussion with two Chief Finance Officers. The session, Finance is from Mars; Sustainability is from Venus: Bridging the Gap, addressed one of the fundamental challenges associated with integrating sustainability practices into a business, namely working with corporate finance teams to identify the most financially beneficial projects. The panel, composed of the Chief Financial Officers from Walgreen Co. and Hyatt Hotels, together with the lead sustainability executive from Office Depot and a moderator from PricewaterhouseCoopers, brought together perspectives from the worlds of finance and sustainability to make the case that partnership between these internal functions can drive long term performance.
Breakout sessions continued throughout the morning and focused on topics such as merchandising and sourcing, marketing and communications, and environmental compliance. One panel, comprised of executives from Schneider Electric and Kohl’s Corporation, discussed how big data is shaping the retail industry’s energy management practices. The executives focused their discussion on the tools available to businesses looking to harness this information to reduce their energy costs and usage.
The day closed out with a final keynote address delivered by noted futurist and Chief Creative Officer of PopTech, Andrew Zolli. Focusing on inspiring achievements in sustainability from around the globe, Mr. Zolli inspired the audience to think differently about how they communicate and connect to stakeholders in their ongiong efforts to reduce the impact humans have on the environment.
“Every year we believe we have put together the best and most informative program,” said Adam Siegel, vice president, sustainability and retail operations at RILA. “Yet, every year I am pleasantly surprised by how much information is shared, how many new ideas are discussed and the progress that retailers are continuing to make. If you’re not in these conversations yet, you need to be—because you are falling behind.”
RILA’s 2014 sustainability event will be held September 29 to October 2, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota—home to some of the largest U.S. retailers and consumer products companies. For more information, please visit: www.rila.org/sustainability.
RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.