Darcy Winslow COOP THINK 15

Sustainability Equals Survival

Bold leadership makes large-scale change possible.

May 8, 2015

Sustainability is not a problem to solve but rather a condition to be created, Darcy Winslow told the CO-OP Think 15 Conference Thursday.

Winslow is the CEO/managing partner and co-founder of the Academy for Systemic Change, an organization focused on creating systemic change for social, economic, and environmental well-being.

Before starting her business and the Academy, Winslow worked at Nike for 21 years. She held several senior management positions within the business and the Nike Foundation.

Among her career achievements, Winslow started Nike's evolution to sustainable business strategies.

"Sustainability equals survival," Winslow said about the global stakes.

Winslow made five points about sustainability:

  1. Realize this is urgent. Global systems on which humans depend are collapsing. Great ecological, socioeconomic, and spiritual-cultural divides are erupting.
  2. Take it personally—and make it personal. Understand how sustainable business practices improve your life and well-being.
  3. Be bold. Anything less is insufficient. Why not be a leader in sustainability?
  4. Embrace commitment, persistence, and collaboration. Stop competing for finite resources. Work together to improve sustainability.

    Avoid the "tragedy of the commons" scenario. According to Investopedia, that's an economic problem which occurs when individuals neglect the well-being of society (or a group) in the pursuit of personal gain by overconsuming a common resource.
  5. Realize that large-scale transformation (across industries and systems) is possible. Industries can work together. Examples exist.

This is hard work, said Winslow—and there is no finish line.

Winslow focused her talk on CO-OP's megatrend of "local love"—prospering by being a mission-driven company.