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Carbon & Beyond: A Discussion with Kate Cacciatore


Carbon and Beyond A Discussion with Kate Cacciatore

Learn the importance of an ESG strategy, the state of sustainability, and more.

Kate Cacciatore recently seat down with Rajiv Jalim, FigBytes’ Solutions Engineering Manager, to discuss her joining FigBytes as Head of Sustainability, Kate’s career and what lead her to joining FigBytes. 

The two also dive into the recent sustainability conferences Kate recently attended.

You won’t want to miss the invaluable expertise and insights from these two experienced sustainability professionals.

Rajiv JalimGood afternoon. Good morning here in North America. Good afternoon over there in Europe. It’s a pleasure to finally connect now that you’ve joined FigBytes.
Rajiv JalimSo would you mind giving us a little introduction to who is Kate Cacciatore?
Kate CacciatoreYeah. Thanks so much, Rajiv. It’s a real pleasure to have joined FigBytes and to be with you today on this webinar. So I’ll give you a little bit of background about myself. I’m from the UK originally, and although I happen to live there for many years, my career has taken me to some very unusual places and amazing experiences in the field.
Kate CacciatoreOf sustainability. And to give you a high level sense of that, it started for me in the academic domain. So I did my degree and my PhD in French literature, which has nothing to do with sustainability. Obviously in those days there weren’t really courses for sustainability, I don’t think. And I after my PhD, I moved to Italy after doing some teaching and I discovered sustainability at an Italian university near Milan where there was someone teaching applied anthropology and comparative economics, and it turned out to be sustainability.
Kate CacciatoreThat was the actual subject. And that moment was the moment in which I kind of knew this was what I wanted to do. I had been feeling a really strong calling to somehow humanize business. I did not know what that meant at all. I thought maybe it would mean human resources in a company, but that just that path didn’t open up for me when I heard about sustainability in terms of, you know, the human dignity, human rights, stewardship of the planet.
Kate CacciatoreIt resonated with me really deeply from my personal values, but also it gave me a language to work with in the world of business so that I could see myself engaging with people and making the connection between their personal values. And the way the company and its purpose and its strategy could bring about a positive impact in some way.
Kate CacciatoreSo that was kind of all in me, but I just didn’t have the words or the concepts for it. And I got the opportunity to work in a major semiconductor company called STMicroelectronics after a brief stint working in strategic marketing in Milan. And it was a bit of a fairy tale situation because I didn’t really have any experience in business.
Kate CacciatoreI had a little bit of academic understanding about sustainability and then some of the reporting that was beginning to really pick up in those days. But essentially I knew nothing. And I walked into a job which was I had a blank sheet in a way to work with the vice president of total quality and environment at the time.
Kate CacciatoreAnd so began a whirlwind experience of nine years in total. And STMicroelectronics where we sort of had to sit down and figure out listening to different external and internal stakeholders, what should our sustainability strategy be what were the pressures the company was under, how it could expand beyond environment to cover things like human rights, ethics and supply chain and all the big topics that were really picking up in intensity in those days.
Kate CacciatoreAnd so it was really learning by doing. And it was a fabulous opportunity, not without its challenges of course, but that was part of the process of learning. Not too long after starting working first in microelectronics, I was in the right place at the right time. I’m going to the meetings, the quarterly meetings of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, and I was representing STMicroelectronics, just sharing the perspectives that we had on all of the issues relating to sustainability in the electronic sector.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I had the great luck and opportunity to join I was elected to join the board of directors at the time of the incorporation of the ICC, which was essentially creating a code of conduct for the whole electronic sector and a shared approach to implementing that with processes that all the companies from the brands to the players, the contract manufacturers all the way down to the mines.
Kate CacciatoreSo it was a fascinating challenge, an opportunity to work thinking about a sustainability strategy, not just for one company, but for all the companies in the value chain. Together. And that was just absolutely wonderful. And then after after that, I was looking for a new challenge. I wanted to get into a different sector and I had the chance to get into the finance industry.
Kate CacciatoreSo I worked for six years in a row.
Rajiv JalimYeah very different from the semiconductor space.
Kate CacciatoreIt was in in Edmond de Rothschild where they were basically creating they wanted to create a sustainability strategy or embed sustainability into the strategy of their three banks. Which were coming together as a single banking group at the time. And what was really fascinating about this for me was obviously learning a whole new world, but I had been in charge of the sustainability aspects of investor relations in microelectronics.
Kate CacciatoreSo I’d been on the receiving end of all the questionnaires and requests by investors and rating agencies for all the information that they needed. And here I was on the other side of the table learning about what were they actually trying to understand, how did this work in practice? How do you create financial products that sort of based on the sustainability performance of companies in different sectors?
Kate CacciatoreSo long story short, I had the opportunity to join a group of people creating a startup in the area of meaningful work.
Kate CacciatoreAnd this resonated with me so much because one of the things I had observed was that in companies, the change that was possible was possible because people had connected with their own personal values. And I saw that for myself I saw it in the people that were around me. And so I thought, well, maybe by getting into this world of meaningful work, I’ll be able to understand more about the drivers of change through personal reflection and connecting with our own values and purpose as individuals, and then having a clearer sense of how we can contribute to a collective purpose and collective activity together for making the world more sustainable.
Rajiv JalimSo you’re giving so many pieces of information that I’m holding on to, and I would love to dig deeper into that. It’s a fantastic career that you have thus far. What what’s happening now?
Kate CacciatoreYes. So now I am I stepped out of obviously sustainability for a couple of years, and then I had the opportunity to get back into this world. And I was missing it, to be honest, because it’s what I’ve always done in my career. And so when I got the opportunity to work for FigBytes, the idea really appealed to me for a couple of reasons.
Kate CacciatoreOne, because I love the company, its vision and its values and its focus on, you know, connecting data with purpose really resonates with me. And at the same time, I just really feel that this whole space of data and measurement and communication and reporting of the company, sustainability, performance, et cetera, is really a happening place right now. It’s where there’s a lot of potential and opportunity to enable companies to go to the next level in some way.
Kate CacciatoreSo that’s where I am right now. I’m here just starting, and I’m really excited about being able to learn and engage and contribute in a new way.
Rajiv JalimAnd I will reiterate at least personally that I am very happy that you decided to join because I’ve learned so much from you already. And if you few weeks, how long has it been now? I feel like you’ve been here for a while. It’s been a few weeks. And I feel like I’ve learned so much.
Rajiv JalimI mean, as I still think of myself as being early on in my sustainability career. And one of the things that you mentioned that you went through was having that career crisis, right, where you wanted to do meaningful, impactful work. And it’s something that I hear a lot of persons in my generation and even the generation after me talking about right now as part of their job search, that that they don’t just want a job anymore.
Rajiv JalimThey don’t just want an income or a salary. They want to be making change and influencing change and driving change. And in some cases, they are now putting companies on the spot during that interview process to make sure that their values align but also that the work that they’re doing is impactful. So it’s almost comforting to know that this is not a crisis of today, but it’s also something that sustainability professionals throughout their career, regardless of the time, whether it was initially CSR, sustainability, private sector, public sector, it’s something that most, if not all, the sustainability professionals go through that, that it’s a genuine passion, that we’ve chosen a career in this space, that we
Rajiv Jalimactually want to humanize business which was a phrase you used early on that I loved, but that we want to make the world a better place. If that’s not too cheesy to say.
Kate CacciatoreCheesy is how we feel, right?
Rajiv JalimSo it’s how we feel. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, it’s comforting to know that you’ve also had those moments of introspection and crisis in a good way. That have shaped your career and led you to the choices you’ve made. Welcome again. I’m I’m curious, given what you’ve seen over time, given what’s happening in the sustainability and ESG space right now, what are what are some of the feelings that you have, the thoughts that you have with what’s going on in the ESG and sustainability world?
Rajiv JalimI mean, it’s blowing up, right? It’s it’s the hot topic everywhere you look.
Kate CacciatoreIt is. And I have to say, Rajiv, you know, I, I had already been really surprised how much things evolved since 2003, which was when I really started in my career in sustainability. And, you know, let’s say just even five years ago I had thought, wow, you know, when I got started, it was like you had to explain everything from scratch.
Kate CacciatorePeople didn’t even know what sustainability was in most cases. And so there was a steady I don’t know, I think of it like an increasing of the temperature of pressure, understanding, realization that this is important and actually it’s critical. And actually it’s here to stay. We better get used to this. And and, you know, those two years when I was focusing on, you know, getting a startup going and thinking about other things and coming back, I just like, oh, my God, you know, like what has happened here?
Kate CacciatoreIt really has exploded and accelerated in an incredible way. And a few reflections on my side on that are, well, I was thrilled because it’s like what I always hoped for and dreamed for in many ways that it would become mainstream to this extent. And I maybe I never dreamed that it would quite. But of course, you know, there are a lot of tensions in the way things are right now.
Kate CacciatoreSo you’ve got frankly, I think that even people like myself and others who’ve been in the sustainability space for a while are kind of overwhelmed and confused to some extent by, you know, all the frameworks and the standards setting in the legislation and the implications of that and all the information that’s flowing from every direction on ESG. And so taking me a while to reorient myself in that new world, I have to say, and yeah, I feel I’ve noticed that at least in the circles that I’ve been moving in.
Kate CacciatoreAnd of course, that’s more in Europe than in North America. I’ve noticed that there is this real focus now on impact … positive impact. When I was in the finance industry, impact investing was still considered more of a niche and much harder to achieve, and I think it is harder to achieve still in many ways. But what shifted in no uncertain terms from my perspective, is that now you’ve got mainstream actors who are looking at it, either whether they’re entrepreneurs or business owners, thinking more about how their businesses can and contribute to a positive social and environmental wellbeing and value creation, and for investors as well, looking for looking to support and finance all of
Kate Cacciatorethat positive impact, not forgetting that we still have a long way to go to reduce our negative impact on the world. Right. But this really caught my eye that everybody was talking about and wanting to hire people and focus their strategies in Europe at least and probably in other places in the world. On positive impact. That was unexpected for me, and I realize it’s not the case everywhere, but it was a significant shift in how things were just a couple of years before.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I would add to that, that on the other side of the coin, pain is still there. It’s it’s hard it’s hard to bring about change in an organization that’s part of a system and an economic system that’s been in place for the last hundred and 50 years. Or so.
Rajiv JalimSometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps backwards.
Kate CacciatoreYeah, exactly. Or sometimes it feels like you’re tinkering around the edges and making things look good and feel good and some improvements. But that, you know, and it’s what I had mentioned before that perhaps that on the fundamentals we haven’t shifted it so I’m, I’ve been through that pain myself for so many years of trying to bring about that change.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I know that, you know, so many of my fellow sustainability practitioners out there today are feeling that pain. And, you know, sometimes you can feel bewildered and lost and, you know, lacking in energy because it’s quite the focus on performance is still really strong. And so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted. So I don’t want to kind of give the impression that with everything that I’m saying about positive impact, that that’s it.
Kate CacciatoreYou know, we’ve we’ve waived the next one. But, you know, there is that there’s a kind of a dichotomy there, which I did pick up as well. In the conferences that I went to last week. So that’s that’s kind of where I’m feeling at the moment. And of course, we’ve seen the backlash to ESG and you know, there’s there’s a lot of debate going on at the moment, which quite put some quite polarized views.
Kate CacciatoreSo I’m kind of looking and reflecting on all of that and seeing what curious as to how things are going to evolve in this space. But I am I remain fundamentally optimistic. I don’t think we’ve ever been as well positioned as we are today to to to be closer to that. What I think of as a paradigm shift towards, you know, the world that we want to see.
Kate CacciatoreSo that’s really where I am today and still in a position of learning and coming back up to speed now.
Rajiv JalimThank you very much for sharing that. I appreciate that, if I may paraphrase, but for me, it is almost a sense of anxiety every now and then in sustainability because you want to move the dial or you want to make that change. But then, for example, Proxy season with activists and stakeholders, every proxy season you hold your breath to see what happens at the end, to see what changes have been made.
Rajiv JalimAnd occasionally a change rocks the sustainability, volatility financing side of things. And we look at it as a positive change in sustainability. But then there are times when that is not necessarily the case and you you get deflated just a little bit. So I totally I totally see where you’re coming from. And I have similar views that on the highs and lows, the emotional toll it takes on you yeah.
Rajiv JalimBut you mentioned being at a few events. I want to touch on those events in a couple of minutes, but I want to ask a question that we didn’t necessarily discuss before and the question came to mind after you were, you know, giving us the highlight reel of your career best spot. And it was your focus on strategy.
Rajiv JalimAnd I wanted to ask a very simple high level question, why is strategy important? Why is an ESG or sustainability strategy important for any organization?
Kate CacciatoreI kind of learned quite quickly in the work I was doing that if you want to bring about something that you consider to be positive either to reduce the negative impact of the company’s activities on the world and on people, or to bring about more positive impact, then you’ve got to somehow integrate that intention into the overall intention of the company.
Kate CacciatoreAnd in most companies, that happens through the strategic objectives that are set at the top of the company. And so throughout my career, in every job that I had, I was always focusing on, OK, so you’ve got this kind of overall strategy which may or may not already have some reference to sustainability. You know, until fairly recently, a lot of company strategy would not explicitly include objectives that might be related to sustainability.
Kate CacciatoreSo my goal was always to fully embed sustainability in the company strategy and not just have some separate things that we do on the side. And the way that played out in my career was that we were I was focusing primarily on, yes, doing all the things we have to do to be a responsible company, to do things the right way, et cetera, but also to in terms of the product and services of the company’s core business and look very deeply there.
Kate CacciatoreHow does sustainability fit into the picture? What are the ways in which our products and services could have a negative impact or a very strong positive impact on stakeholders, society, the environment, people etc. And so that was that was almost always my goal. And I think for me it comes back to intention, right? We have these processes in companies today for how to go from an intention to executing on that intention and strategy is fundamental to that.
Kate CacciatoreYeah, in particular setting strategy in terms of very specific targets and things that you want to achieve so that you can then, you know, measure and figure out with the data that you’ve got whether you’ve achieved that objective or not. But I would add that one of the things I learned over my career was the importance of governance, which is like the foundation underpinning the strategy that the company sets.
Kate CacciatoreAnd what I found was that very often some maybe weaknesses or things missing in the governance of the organization could end up meaning that you can’t even begin to integrate things into the strategy in a meaningful way. So I had a lot of learnings over my career, one that’s and it’s still something that’s very top of mind for me and for other companies today.
Kate CacciatoreI think in terms of, you know, are we are we setting ourselves up with the right governance structures to enable and create the conditions for what we’re seeking to achieve?
Rajiv JalimSo thank you very much for sharing that. You mentioned the importance of intent and one of the phrases that comes to mind, one of the things that comes to mind all the time is impact based is intent and it’s not enough to just want to do good. How are you actually executing? How are you implementing? And then ultimately, what is the impact of that plan?
Rajiv JalimRight. And that or that needs to tie or align to your intent. You can’t just do this. I want to set up a 2040 target and that’s the end of strategy. It’s also reverse engineering that into a measurable, realistic plan to get to that target and making sure you’re delivering impact along the way.
Kate CacciatoreYeah, absolutely.
Rajiv JalimAll right. So I want to shift gears a little bit to talk about those two events that you were at, which I’m a little bit envious that I wasn’t able to join you, but that’s why I wanted to have this conversation so I can understand what was some of the highlights from those events. I know you were at one in Lausanne and you were in Rome as well for both events.
Rajiv JalimWhat’s the highlight reel from both or any one of them? What were some of the the main takeaway is that remain with you a week later?
Kate CacciatoreYeah, thanks for asking about that, because actually I was so happy to go to these conferences. Since COVID, I have not been to a single conference, and this was like a breath of fresh air, like getting oxygen. So yeah, I had a wonderful week last week. I went to these two conferences, so the first one was in Lausanne and that the title is it’s called Showcase 2013 Scaling Solutions for a Net Positive Planet.
Kate CacciatoreAnd it’s an event that is organized by the what’s called the E for EST, part of EPFL. So EPFL is a science and technology university or institution which is kind of like the MIT of Switzerland and they have, you know, a lot of professors and people working on all manner of topics in the realm of science and technology.
Kate CacciatoreAnd in the past they’ve held this event either digitally or in person on a smaller scale. But what’s interesting this time around is, well, it was physical and it was also held in collaboration with the University of Lausanne and IMD. And so all three academic institutions coming together, not only then, but actually with national government and regional government and with private sector, public sector companies, investors.
Kate CacciatoreAnd am I missing in there? So basically the concept behind this, and I find this absolutely fascinating and really effective, is to create an ecosystem for scaling these puzzle achieve sort of net positive solutions for the planet. There were perhaps about 100 or two, maybe 200 people there there were several dozen startups and six other yeah, big organizations and institutions.
Kate CacciatoreSo it was a very rich array, shall we say, of stakeholders and participants all talking about this, but with this nice sort of scientific edge to it. And in fact, one of the partners for this event was the space for impact, I think it’s called said. So they it’s talking about how can space technologies help support and achieving sustainability goals.
Kate CacciatoreSo that gives.
Rajiv JalimYou incredible using space tech to achieve sustainability. It’s yeah.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I was blown away by many of the startups that were there. You had, you know, all sorts of wonderful things which had come from PhDs and activities within the university that they incubate and support and create partnerships with other stakeholders to help them take off. So, you know, the Swiss network and ecosystem is very rich and contributes in a very significant way to the overall competitiveness of the country.
Rajiv JalimIf I was represented at a tech conference this week in Toronto here and similar to what you’re describing, it was inspiring and mind blowing to see what these young researchers are churning out some of the very creative and innovative solutions that coming up with to solve sustainability challenges. One of the things that jumped out at me and I feel like you were underscoring that as well, was traditionally academics and research and academia was seen to have operated in a utopic world.
Rajiv JalimThey were disconnected from reality. They developed research that was great, but could go anywhere. It sounds like we’re seeing a shift where universities are setting up these incubators. They’re actually testing these technologies and seeing how it can scale and be implemented. In the real world.
Kate CacciatoreAbsolutely. Yeah, no, it’s really exciting. Yeah, yeah. And so just to give you a high level view of the other conference, which was quite different, but similar in many ways. So it was the Business for Good Leaders Summit in Rome. So this was organized by B Lab, which is the organization behind the B Corp certification, which I think is quite well known these days.
Kate CacciatoreAnd so apparently it was the first time that leaders from private sector so could be founders, CEOs, C-suite executives, leaders from all levels of the organization and investors were present as well. So similar sort of ecosystem feeling. And of course, the big movement is focused on, you know, having that positive intention to have business be a force for good.
Kate CacciatoreAnd so it was very much in the direction of the same kind of things that the Lausanne conference was focusing on. And the kind of wording that was being used there. So it wasn’t so much a net positive planet, but the words being used were regenerative economy and thinking about the circular economy, regenerative economy and rebooting the whole system.
Kate CacciatoreSo there was a lot of talk about about that at this conference, but essentially it was bringing people together to share their ideas, their projects, what they’re working on to find opportunities to collaborate and of course, to inspire one another. And there was some big names at the conference like Paul Polman and Emmanuel Faber and many, many others who were really inspiring.
Kate CacciatoreSo it was a great opportunity to see a lot of the things that are going on in the in the B-corp movement.
Rajiv JalimAnd beyond that, I mean, I think of a running tech joke where we ask, you know, have you tried unplugging the economy and plugging it back in to achieve that, not to, you know, that restart where we get to to clean the slate and restructure and build a system of of tomorrow. There were some very interesting ideas that were discussed at that event.
Rajiv JalimYou know, one of them that you and I were chatting about that stood out to me was this concept of not a triple bottom line, but an integrated bottom line where we are redefining earning a success criteria that, you know, makes a business valuable. So you’re not just looking at generating profits, but you’re trying to look at the value that we’re creating together for ensuring wellbeing of the planet, wellbeing of the society across the board.
Rajiv JalimThat is very much a paradigm shift where traditional business leaders often separated, making money from doing good. And this integrated bottom line is saying those are not exclusive concepts. You can actually do both. Any any thoughts on that from the event?
Kate CacciatoreYeah, thanks. For mentioning that, actually, because it’s I think it’s something that has been gradually happening over time, sort of going from if we think about the change of paradigm being from starting off with this concept of profit at any cost, even if it has a detrimental impact on people and nature, which I think you said is what we’ve inherited from the Industrial Revolution, not everywhere, because there were always many examples of business that wanted to have a positive impact and serve the kind of fundamental needs of consumers and society and communities.
Kate CacciatoreBut we have seen the dominance in sort of the last hundred years of more focusing on profits and I think with the triple bottom line and the gradual shift towards saying it will no, you know, we can’t only define value in terms of the financial profit that we create. It’s it’s got to be about the social value. It’s going to be about the environmental value and of course, the economic value.
Kate CacciatoreSo with the triple bottom line, I think there was a legitimate and genuine attempt to bring all of those elements into a common framework. And as you say, to redefine the criteria for success. But it was still staying a bit on the periphery. And what what what really came out of these two conferences and in particular the one that the three leaders that actually both of them really, if I think about it, is that so the integrated bottom line.
Kate CacciatoreSo the idea is, or at least what I’m seeing, signs of is an understanding of the fact that you because we as a society are describing or assigning value now to an environment to wellbeing, to the wellbeing of people and all of the people on the planet, not just some of the people on the planet by catering and provide products and services to with the intention of creating value, we will necessarily reap the economic and financial rewards from that.
Kate CacciatoreSo it’s kind of it’s literally turning it on its head and saying it’s not all about profit, and that’s what we’re going to do everything to achieve. It’s about widening the scope and thinking, well, we want people to have, you know, wellbeing and be healthy and have good levels of nutrition and enough water and all the things that we know.
Kate CacciatoreRight. And that by now collectively agreeing that that has a lot of value and we want to create that together. Then new market mechanisms, new incentives are emerging that mean that you could make money from doing those things right. So that’s the general idea. And I think that the integrated bottom line, the way I’m interpreting it right now is, is that we’re not there yet, but number one, you’ve got to embed sustainability into your overall strategy is what we were saying before.
Kate CacciatoreBut ultimately even today, even the companies that have been doing that for several years, not many of them have shifted to an integrated financial report which has been held up as something to aim for for quite some time now. And so why is that? Right. We still there’s a barrier to achieving that. And what’s come out even more recently, I think, is the work that’s been done.
Kate CacciatoreFor example, by the Harvard Business Review Initiative of, well, the Harvard Business School initiative of the impact weighted accounting. And so this notion that if you’re if you’re integrating sustainability objectives into in the way that we just described into the objectives of the company overall, not a separate strategy. But then when it comes to financial reporting, that financial into overall reporting, integrated reporting would ideally reflect the positive and negative impact that the company is having.
Kate CacciatoreAnd ideally and this is what the Harvard Business School is working towards, be able to come up with a methodology that they have, in fact, created and are testing now with companies to give a monetary value to that positive or negative impact. So right now it’s in the early stages. And of course, all those impact entrepreneurs out there are sort of more likely to be able to gravitate to this kind of approach that I certainly I’m hearing more about it and seeing it emerge as a vision for that we’re heading towards even if we’re kind of feeling our way.
Kate CacciatoreRight. It’s it’s not so easy in practice to arrive at that, not least because you have to convince company management that that’s the right thing to do.
Rajiv JalimYeah. And I think some of these sustainability naysayers, if I may call them that, they beat up on sustainability professionals who can’t come up with an instant solution that will have zero flaws and be perfect and ready tomorrow. And what we’re seeing on the sustainability side is there is going to be some trial and error, there will be lessons learned, things will work, things will not work.
Rajiv JalimBut if we’re trying to change the way we do business, change the systems that we’ve developed over the past 50, 100, 200 years, we need to start the journey of 4000 miles begins with a single step, and we need to take that step and continue taking steps forward. It won’t be easy, but we need to we need to move in that direction.
Kate CacciatoreExactly. Now that that’s I think we have to be pragmatic and not beat up on ourselves, as you say, and, you know, be courageous and have these conversations that will open these possibilities up.
Rajiv JalimAnd as I mentioned, the single step, one of the concepts that was mentioned at the event in Rome was the giant leap. Right. And I think it was Professor Randers as well brought up the giant leap and the giant leap. Can you speak a little to what the giant leap is and what Professor Randers was discussing?
Kate CacciatoreYeah, this was this was actually one of the takeaways that I took from the two conferences together, actually, because this year is the 50th anniversary anniversary year of the publication of The Limits to Growth reports written by a number of different authors, including Professor Jorgen Randers, who was the keynote speaker actually at the Lausanne event. And it was a great learning experience for me because it wasn’t something that I had really been steeped in in the past.
Kate CacciatoreAnd at the Rome conference, as well, there was exactly the same thing. Lots of talk about the fact this is the anniversary year and Rome is the the home of the Club of Rome as well, which is obviously the sort of birthplace of the Limits to Growth report. And that is very much involved still in that space. So this year in September, the new report, which is the sequel to Limits to Growth, which is called Earth for All, will be published.
Kate CacciatoreAnd you can read it was sharing with us a sort of an amazing overview, if you like, of and a sneak preview to what will be in the earth. But will reports reviewing where we are today in relation to those original scenarios that were put forward in limits to growth and which were all about assessing sort of the the state of the environment and society and the kind of scenarios that would lead us either to a positive or negative outcome.
Kate CacciatoreSo there were 12 in total you know he was explaining to us and that his message in general was and it seems like if we look at where we are today, we’re somewhere in the middle of the, you know, the six bad the six good scenarios and the six bad scenarios and the giant leap comes in because essentially what he was saying was looking at where we are looking at this situation, his view and what will be presented in the report is that if we’re going to make it, if it’s not going to be too little, too late, then there has to be this giant leap, which is an extraordinary turnaround so he talks a
Kate Cacciatorelot about a number of drivers that he saw, things that were absolutely critical to be able to turn things around and have a move towards a scenario that’s going to be positive. And just thinking back to the kind of things that he said. But one of the key points that came out of his speech and he wanted to clear up a misunderstood thing was that a lot of scientists or stakeholders had misunderstood the original limits to growth to mean that economic growth cannot continue if we want to live within the sort of planetary boundaries and be this acceptable life on earth.
Kate CacciatoreBut in fact, what he was saying was, no, we can have a sort of acceptable level of well-being for everyone on the planet, provided that we reduce the physical footprint of humanity’s activity. And so this was really the focus of his presentation and another presentation by another environmental scientist who contributed to the IPCC report in April about thinking about ways to mitigate demand and sort of anticipating the kinds of massive behavioral changes and lifestyle changes that will be necessary to achieve this.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I think it reflected or articulated very well both the sense of urgency that was really conveyed at both that both events and that we’re feeling, I think just generally in the media is being shared around everywhere. And this focus on so the giant leap will not we can’t carry on with business as usual. We can’t continue in the same mindset, we can’t continue in the same systems approach.
Kate CacciatoreAnd that we have now we have to radically change things. So what emerged out of the conversations and was very present was this is going to require radical innovation, radical collaboration, rethinking things completely, taking a systems view to the complexities you can as a company or as a stakeholder. You can’t only see your own piece of the puzzle.
Kate CacciatoreYou have to open up and engage and understand how we everything is interrelated and dare to break free from this kind of linear, competitive paradigm towards the circular and collaborative paradigm. So really, it was so rich, there was so much and it’s hard to put into words sometimes, but essentially everything those two conferences was focusing on how can we step out of that systems mindset that we’re steeped in and sometimes we don’t even realize it, and maybe this is where the greenwashing comes in that we think we’re doing good, but actually it’s nowhere near enough and it’s not it’s we have to go to a completely different level.
Kate CacciatoreSo yeah, it’s hard to convey in a few sentences the intensity of that and what I do see and I think this is the last takeaway that I was sharing with you, was that what this is making people realize is that we’re not going to be able to do this if we continue in the sort of way we’ve been engaging with each other and the way we’ve been operating in businesses and you know, our official interactions with each other, we have to kind of find we have to dig deep into what’s meaningful for us as individuals.
Kate CacciatoreThe purpose, the value is coming back to that original point we were talking about and have radical authenticity, right? Being ourselves truly and connecting with our emotions and with our hearts. And this is really interesting because it’s something which is normally taboo in a lot of companies. But just to give you a sense of this, one of the parts of the room conference that I appreciated the most was that at the very beginning, a large number of CEOs and other leaders were invited on stage.
Kate CacciatoreAgain, there was something like 700 people present and they were invited to share their personal dream and they sort of all went up on stage and they ended up holding hands. And after that, that was John Lennon’s Imagine, which was played. And so this was something which I think, you know, you mentioned cheesy before, but some people might put it in that category that I personally and I noticed that there were a lot of people in the room who were shedding the odd tear here or there.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I think there’s a realization that in order to make the kind of shift we need to make, we have to go to that level of our values and who we are and what we want to achieve. And that this is becoming acceptable in not every business environment. That we work in. But what I see increasingly is that you’ve got big names, mainstream leaders who are daring to do it.
Kate CacciatoreAnd when they dare to do it, then other people feel that they have permission to bring their whole selves to work, for example, and share who they are and what they want to see happen.
Rajiv JalimAnd, you know, I would I would say it’s not cheesy because we opened the call and you mentioned humanizing business. And at the end of the day, regardless of the titles, regardless of the fantastic careers and the the assets that these leaders manage, billions and trillions of dollars, if they were human faced and wanted. Some of the obstacles that you see in the sustainability space.
Rajiv JalimTalk about a good sustainability leader having high on intelligence where they can draw on those emotions and understandings and experiences from the human side to influence their business decisions. So, yeah, someone will say it’s cheesy, but I can see how that’s impactful to how business leaders demonstrate by holding hands and John Lennon being in the background that’s that’s definitely impactful at a conference.
Rajiv JalimAnd it makes you wonder that these are not it makes you realize, sorry, that these are not just suits and checkbooks you’re looking at and decision makers. These are human beings who probably have families and kids and grandkids that will be impacted by whichever direction this system goes in.
Kate CacciatoreExactly. And it’s reminiscent also of Martin Luther King. I have a dream know there are moments in history where that’s the kind of thing that it takes. Right. To to federate the kind of unity that we need to bring about significant change in our societies. And I would just use an example also of that. The at the London conference, I particularly appreciated the presentation of speech by the chief technology officer of a company called Buller in Zurich in Switzerland.
Kate CacciatoreSo it’s a very large company, privately owned, which creates the equipment for food processing and mobility solutions vehicle parts, et cetera. And so quite a significant company. And what really struck me about the the speech by Ian Roberts, who, you know, spoke on stage very openly and authentically about his experience, what his company is doing. But he put a lot of emphasis on the role of youth in things right.
Kate CacciatoreBecause young people, as you mentioned before, in in their masses. Right. Are kind of feeling the need for change. They feel it viscerally and they desperately want it on the whole. This is the kind of trend I think we see. And there’s a real acknowledgment of the importance of in this new regenerative economy in society that we’re thinking about that needs to be, of course, inclusive, to enable social equality, to make room for the perspectives and the voices of young people and young leaders who can bring those fresh perspectives.
Kate CacciatoreAnd so what was amazing was that they were explaining that they had decided, as you know, the CEO, the CFO and the CTO in this case were all personally very committed and motivated in the way that we’ve just been describing and to the point that they said, look, I think we need to invite the young people in our company to come in and analyze and look at our strategy and tell us what they think we need to do in order for this to be the place, the kind of place that they want to work in.
Kate CacciatoreSo they did that and they invited them to propose a new strategic approach to be part of the rethinking of the strategy of the organization. And it was very successful. It took them to the next level, and they’re still moving in that direction. And what they’ve done is they’ve they’ve kind of institutionalize this approach so that anyone in the company this includes, you know, the young people, anything they feel passionate about that they want to lead in terms of a project that might have social and environmental benefits, they’re free to do that.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I found it very touching, actually, that the young woman who was representing this particular youth movement in their company, and that is part of an organization. Let me see if I can remember that, because I do want to mention that one young world, I think that was the one, this youth organization that is also present in Switzerland anyway.
Kate CacciatoreSo this young woman got up on stage and spoke very eloquently and inspiringly about the importance of listening to young voices and also of the critical nature of networks and partnerships in being able to achieve the ambitious goals that we need to set. So yeah, it just it was a nice thought. And I noticed also that the Rome conference they had, they did things like leaving an empty chair for them to represent the future generations that we have to bear in mind, or leaving an empty chair for anybody in the audience who would like to come up and share a divergent point of view to sort of really underline the importance of, Hey, we’ve got
Kate Cacciatoreto listen to each other, right? We have to be we have to open ourselves up and listen and create these solutions. CO-create these solutions in a way that is sort of reflecting all the the diverse perspectives that need to be taken into account.
Rajiv JalimAnd maybe that that comes back to redefining how we choose our stakeholders for something like materiality assessment. I kind of the top of my head think of a materiality assessment that I’ve read through where I’ve seen young people identified as a stakeholder group who is inputs should be sort during the decision making process. So that that might be that might be the future that we’re looking at where we see materiality as going beyond employees and board and community.
Rajiv JalimAnd now to a more granular and social. We through a social lens where you’re seeing different generations as being included, as both identified clearly within the assessment.
Kate CacciatoreBut no, I agree. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that it comes back to that point about equipping our boards as well. You know, that there was this strong feeling that there’s not necessarily the, the expertize and the mindset.
Kate CacciatoreSo it’s more about making sure that you’ve got your board is reflecting the diversity of the mindset as well as gender.
Rajiv JalimAnd I certainly mean listening to exit interviews again, I’m sure many of these these traditional decision makers have families and have kids and have grandkids who are bringing these ideas home, but they’re probably just not caring or listening to them within within their own spaces. Right. So, yeah, I know I come in close to the to the time.
Rajiv JalimI wanted to ask one last question. Sure. To get your thoughts on and that would be what’s next for Kate? What do the next three months, maybe six months, I, I would ask you to look a year out because given the changes that are happening in ESG, I can’t even tell you what you would look like. But so what do the next three, six months look for?
Rajiv JalimYou look like for you? Sorry. Here at FigBytes.
Kate CacciatoreMm. Yeah. Thanks for that question. Well, it’s just a wonderful moment of discovery. So obviously, I’m understanding more about how FigBytes works and what we need to do also in the stress in the sustainability space. So there’s, and there’s that part of it, but I think also, but I’m particularly looking forward to is engaging with companies, sustainability practitioners, people in companies who are working on all of this.
Kate CacciatoreAnd having these experiences. I’m looking forward to teasing out the, the big opportunities and the sort of big trends and where we’re moving and telling positive stories because that also came out at the conference about, you know, if we want to shift to a new paradigm, we have to we have to reinvent the narrative. Right. We have to tell you stories so looking to the future and all the opportunities we have and the great things that are out there beginning to happen are already happening.
Kate CacciatoreAnd also speaking more to weaving in those pain points. Right. Those challenges, what can we learn together? How can we pool our understanding and experience to take that giant leap and to really enhance the things that we were planning to do already? Or we might end up doing differently when we hear from and share more with each other.
Kate CacciatoreSo I’m looking forward to engaging with people inside FigBytes, outside FigBytes and working out together. How are we going to do this? So I think there are many different ways in which that might manifest, and I’m looking forward to the creativity of it, the exploration, the learning and doing our best together to take it to the next level.
Rajiv JalimIf there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in ESG, it’s fun. No two days are the same and there’s never a dull day. So I’m very much again, personally, I’m looking forward to learning from your lived experiences in ESG but also pulling those ideas together so we can go and save the world. Or try to save the world.
Kate CacciatoreThanks a lot. Rajiv and it sounds good.
Rajiv JalimSo thank you so very much, Kate, for taking the time to connect. I look forward to our next webcast together.
Kate CacciatoreAnd fantastic. Me too, take care.