Sold-out Sustainability Summit leaves attendees inspired and informed

More than 300 Greater Cleveland business leaders gathered to discuss the importance of sustainability

By Laura DeMarco

Sustainability. It’s not just a buzzword. But what, exactly, is it, and why should businesses care?

More than 300 business leaders and stakeholders gathered at the inaugural Greater Cleveland Partnership Sustainability Summit at the Huntington Convention Center on Tuesday to discuss the importance of being All In on sustainability for business growth and regional impact — and steps and resources to get there.



“Yesterday and today, Greater Cleveland, with its abundant natural resources, strong business base and visionary leaders can — and will — be a site for sustainable transformation and growth,” said Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Baiju Shah to open the event. “As home to 20% of the world’s fresh water in our Great Lakes region, it is imperative that sustainability become a part of all that we do. Our region has extraordinary potential, which we can realize by working together.”

The keynote speech, “Sustainability Trends, Challenges and Opportunities,” was delivered by Chris Laszlo, professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management

“The way we need to think about sustainability and ESG is in terms of value creation,” said Laszlo. “It drives business innovation and needs to be integrated into core business strategies and operations.”

“Are you inspiring people? Are you influencing industry standards?” he challenged the audience.

The summit brought together sustainability leaders from large companies and small and mid-size enterprises, experts and thought leaders for educational discussions. It consisted of panels and breakout tracks for both large companies and SMEs.

Topics ranged from “Meeting Stakeholder Expectations and Targets,” to “What Your Customers Need You to Know,” “Sustainability 101” and “Innovation and Sustainability for Large Companies.”

Chris Laszlo, professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, delivered the Summit keynote.

Attendee Taylor Evans, CEO of Workforce LLC, praised the Summit for “putting sustainability at the forefront of conversation,” noting its increasing importance in attracting workforce talent.

“The impact of sustainability on employee morale and retention is both remarkable and undeniable. By creating a workplace that is both purpose driven and mindful of its environmental impact, you are leaning into a long term strategy that will undoubtedly have a positive long term impact on the bottom line.

“Companies that adopt and implement a triple bottom line business model, which can be challenging for a company to do in totality, will ultimately mean that they are All In for all of their constituents (shareholders, employees and the Earth) in the long run.”

Panelists included representatives of many of the region’s largest corporations. The “Company Benefits of Sustainable Practices” panel, moderated by Elad Granot, PH.D., Dean of the Boler College of Business at John Carroll University, featured leaders from Lubrizol, Cleveland Cliffs, Blue CSR Strategies and the City of Cleveland.

Elizabeth Grove, Chief Sustainability Officer at Lubrizol, spoke to the importance of companies integrating sustainability into both their carbon footprint and “handprint.”

“At Lubrizol, we are reducing our carbon footprint, and also leveraging sustainability in our handprint, in the products we make,” she said, noting they expect the same from their suppliers. “The benefit is … co-operation in the supply chain.”

Patrick Bloom, Vice President, Government Relation at Cleveland Cliffs, spoke to the potential of sustainability to turn back the “tide of globalization,” citing the EV supply chain as beneficial for American businesses.

Shah emphasized the Summit is just the beginning of an essential new market movement, one which requires the community to work together.

“Building a Great GREEN Region on a Great Lake will take all of us, working All In,” he said. “Sustainability is essential for dynamic business growth, as experts will share today. Businesses are rapidly learning that sustainability is not optional. It’s the way of the future. Large, mid-size and small companies that embrace sustainability will have a competitive advantage. Leveraging technology and innovation leads to growth throughout the supply chain. We want all businesses to leave today’s Summit inspired to grow — and informed about resources that can help them do so.”

The inaugural Sustainability Summit was a sell-out event.


What is sustainability and why does it matter? | by Greater Cleveland Partnership | Jan, 2023 | Medium

Sustainability Summit | Sold Out — Greater Cleveland Partnership

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Dynamic Business.


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