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The Sustainable Business Podcast

The Sustainable Business Podcast

By Laura Marie Edinger-Schons
Welcome to the Sustainable Business Podcast. In this podcast, Laura Marie Edinger-Schons, professor of sustainable business at the University of Mannheim, interviews experts on how we can make the sustainability transformation effective.
The podcast is made for sustainability professionals, but also for students and anyone interested in sustainability management.
Podcast guests are sustainability managers, social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, politicians and other changemakers who co-create the management and measurement of sustainability.
Great to have you as listeners – enjoy discussions!
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The Value Balancing Alliance – Harmonization of methodologies for sustainability performance

The Sustainable Business Podcast

Sebastian Stricker – Developing the business model of “Share” to create impact in the FMCG industry
How can a FMCG business create a sustainability impact? How can the business measure it? And how can it communicate this impact to consumers so that they can grasp their potential role and start to engage? Sebastian Stricker, the founder and CEO of Share, was Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons‘ guest and discussed these questions with her. Reflecting on his career, he shares insights on how he began to understand the extent of global food insecurity while working for the United Nations World Food Program. He describes what it took to start „Share the Meal“, his first startup, and how he hopes to inspire companies and individuals with „Share“. Beyond his enterprise, his new role as a father challenges him to rethink his own purpose, making sense of the most recent political events, as well as ever-lasting literature such as the writings of Simone de Beauvior.
June 21, 2022
Dr. Ali Aslan Gümüşay – How can we create large scale change?
How can organizations achieve unity in diversity? How can new forms of organizing create large-scale change? What are the roles of scholars, and how do they engage with complexity? And how can digital transformations have an impact on work, organizing, and leadership? In this episode, Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons talked with Dr. Ali AslanGümüşay, Head of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Society Research Group at Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, who focuses on all these questions in his research. Ali shares insights on his idea of an engaged scholar and what challenges engaged scholars face. Additionally, Laura and Ali discuss the importance of new forms of organizing and their impact on sustainable and social business. Lastly, Ali elaborates on how values, for instance, religious values, drive the purpose of a company.
June 07, 2022
Sustainability Reporting and the EU Taxonomy – what does good reporting look like?
Dawn Slevin has worked on the development of the EU taxonomy, co-chaired the do no significant harm technical screening criteria across four objectives, and contributed to an EFRAG paper on good company reporting on risks and opportunities and its linkage to sustainable business models. In this episode, Dawn shares insights into her work at the EU and discusses good practices and chances of sustainability reporting with Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons. Dawn explains the idea behind the EU taxonomy and its implications for sustainability reporting. Additionally, she addresses good practices for sustainability reporting and how it helps companies understand their dependencies, positive and negative impacts and outcomes, and the opportunities that may arise from sustainability. Lastly, Laura and Dawn talk about the importance of integrating sustainability into a company's core strategy and how companies, governments, and citizens need to work closely together.
May 24, 2022
Corporate Purpose and Employee Sustainability Behaviors – how companies can create sustainability ownership amongst their workforce
When do customers reward companies for having a higher purpose and acting on it? What external and internal forces enhance the engagement of companies in sustainability issues?And how do sustainability and psychological ownership relate to employee engagement? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with CB Bhattacharya, H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh. CB explains how his view on marketing has shifted after having included environmental and social attributes as possible drivers for sales beyond the 4 Ps of marketing. Moreover, CB shares insights about his research regarding external and especially internal factors that drive corporate sustainability. His research emphasizes how sustainability and CSR canenhance employee engagement by giving employees a feeling of purpose and creating psychological ownership of an idea, i.e., sustainability, in the workforce. CB's Podcast:
May 10, 2022
Corporate socio-political activism – What role do companies have in social issues?
Corporations become more and more involved in socio-political activities. Whether it is the climate crisis, the covid pandemic, or most recently, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, companies release statements, take a stand, and speak out about controversial issues. But how do stakeholders react to this new role of companies? What role do CEOs play in corporate socio-political activism? What are the reasons for companies to get involved in social issues? And what about the legitimacy of corporate socio-political activism? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Doug Schuler, associate professor of business and public policy at Jones Graduate School of Business Rice University, Houston, Texas. Doug shares insights about his research on corporate political activity, social innovation, and collective impact. He explains how and why companies engage in socio-political issues and what returns companies might expect from speaking out. Additionally, Laura and Doug talk about the legitimacy of corporate socio-political actions and how companies still under-invest in understanding their stakeholder environment.
April 26, 2022
The automotive industry, sustainability, and social engagement
The automotive industry is not typically known as the most sustainable industry. However, companies have been changing their core businesses, investing in innovations, and are moving to more ecologically sustainable solutions for sustainability. But what about the social impact of automotive companies? How do they build social business engagement? And what does social engagement mean in the automotive context? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and her co-host Michael Alberg-Seberich, managing director at Wider Sense, discussed these questions with Francois Rouvier, CSR director of the social business MOBILIZE Programat Renault Group. Francois shares insights on how Renault’s CSR strategy is based on the three pillars environment, security, and inclusion and how automotive companies can have environmental and social impacts. He explains how sustainable mobility is about inclusion, accessibility, and how mobility and employment are interconnected. Finally, Laura, Michael, and Francois talk about stakeholder engagement, the need for including sustainability in the corporate DNA, and how to live up to a company’s purpose.
April 05, 2022
The Corporate Social Mind – How purpose drives corporate social responsibility
How can companies approach social issues and achieve societal action for social change? What role does an authentic and credible approach to corporate purpose play? And what role do leaders and corporate culture play in embracing change? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Derrick Feldmann, speaker, researcher, author, and Michael Alberg-Seberich, managing director at Wider Sense. Derrick and Michael share insights from their latest book, “The Corporate Social Mind”, and how the roles of purpose and responsibility regarding societal issues have challenged the understanding of corporate approaches to CSR and corporate citizenship. Additionally, they emphasize the role of leadership and corporate culture in driving purpose.
March 22, 2022
How can companies manage the transformation towards a more sustainable economy and deal with a fast changing regulatory environment?
What is the current Status Quo of the sustainability transformation in Germany? What is needed to manage the change towards greener business models? In this podcast episode, Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Jakob Kunzlmann, Project Manager at the Bertelsmann Foundation, and Alexander Krämer, Founder andMember of the Board of the Peer School of Sustainable Development. Together, they review the results of the latest Sustainability Management Monitor, a collaboration between the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Peer School for Sustainable Development, and the Chair of Sustainable Business of the University of Mannheim which provides insights into the sustainability transformation in business from the perspective of sustainability managers. Jakob and Alexander explain how sustainability can become a business case and lead to competitive advantages. Furthermore, they emphasize the recent regulation and its implications for corporations and corporate governance. According to Alexander, there are still huge uncertainties around the topic of implementation of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Law and the EU Taxonomy.
March 15, 2022
Impact Measurement and Valuation – Going beyond the output
With new policy papers, frameworks, and demands from stakeholders, impact measurement and valuation is becoming more critical to companies. But how can we measure the connection between businesses and societies? Where are risks and opportunities? And what are the ethical implications of valuation? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Samuel Vionnet, director and founder of Valuing Impact. Samuel explains how impact measurement helps to identify risks and opportunities of companies and how it challenges the status quo. Furthermore, Samuel and Laura talk about the implications that the knowledge of one's impact and valuation has for companies and the ethical implications of valuation. Lastly, Samuel stresses the advantages of impact measurement data and the importance of using it in the right way to be transparent.
March 08, 2022
How impact measurement and valuation contribute to rethinking performance
How can companies define their purpose, and why is corporate purpose essential to understand the impact of a company? Why do companies need to go beyond classical performance measurement and learn to understand their activities' social and environmental outcomes and impact? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Judith Stroehle, research and program lead of the Oxford Rethinking Performance Initiative at Said Business School, University of Oxford. Judith explains how impact measurement is critical for companies' long-term strategic thinking and management decision-making. Lastly, Judith stresses the importance of double materiality for impact measurement.
March 01, 2022
The Value Balancing Alliance – Harmonization of methodologies for sustainability performance
How can we make impact measurement more comparable, and why do harmonized methodologies to measure the sustainability performance of companies play a key role in this process? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Christian Heller, CEO of the Value Balancing Alliance. Christian explains what the Value Balancing Alliance is doing and talks about its uniqueness as a non-profit organization because of its structure and operation. Furthermore, Christian explains how they develop their methodologies and their piloting procedure with companies of their network. Lastly, Christian stresses the importance of the "value to society and value to business" perspective and how we need a close collaboration of politics, business, and the financial market to drive the sustainability transformation.
February 22, 2022
Sustainable Finance – ESG ratings and their divergence
ESG data has become more and more critical in finance over the last few years. In fact, in Europe, flows into ESG funds doubled in 2020 alone. However, the ratings diverge significantly from one data-provider to the other. How is that possible? Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and co-host Prof. Dr. Oliver Spalt, professor of financial market and financial institutions at the University of Mannheim, discussed the topic of ESG data with their guest Florian Berg, a researcher at the Massachusetts Instituteof Technology (MIT). Florian explains that the divergence in ratings can come from scope, weights, and measurement divergence and how different statistical approaches can reduce measurement noise. Moreover, Laura, Oliver, and Florian talk about how raters have different focuses, how the rater effect influences the ESG rating, and why transparency can help improve the measurement over time
February 15, 2022
UN PRME – Sustainability in Management Education
Mette Morsing, Head of UN PRME and today's guest, describes business schools as the supply chains of the business world. That is why it is, in her view, essential to strengthen sustainability education at universities. In the last episode of this year's season, Laura and Mette talk about the opportunities and the enormous responsibility that business schools have to drive change towards sustainable development. They discuss the importance of society in the stakeholder model, the need to redefine business success, and how universities need to engage students to think more holistically. Furthermore, Mette stresses the importance of teaching a wider variety of skills to students and assessing students' performance differently. Lastly, Mette shares what she has learned from universities located in the global south and from students that have developed a strong voice in the past years.
December 21, 2021
Sustainable finance and impact investments
Impact investments are still a relatively small field in the finance sector. However, the demand for sustainable portfolios and investments has grown in the last few years. Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and her co-host Prof. Dr. Oliver Spalt talked with Martin Ewald, Lead Portfolio Manager Impact Investments Managing Director at Allianz Global Investors, about his work and the current developments in the sustainable finance sector. Martin shared insights on Allianz Global Investor’s funds and which environmental and social criteria they use to choose projects. Furthermore, he explains how they distribute the risks of their investments and why transparency and reporting are essential for impact investments. Lastly, Laura, Oliver, and Martin discuss whether and how regulation and legal frameworks are needed to make impact investments attractive for a large pool of capital and thus, maximize the impact.
December 14, 2021
GLS Bank – Sustainability and transparency in the finance sector
The field of sustainable finance has grown immensely in the past few years. But how can the financial sector contribute systematically to a better future? And why is it essential to not only think outside the box but to throw the box away when it comes to rethinking the system? Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Jan Köpper, Head of Impact Transparency and Sustainability at GLS Bank. Jan stresses the importance to prioritize planetary boundaries and the social impact when launching a new business project. Furthermore, Jan explains why GLS Bank focuses on impact transparency, talking and questioning the impact, rather than only measuring impact. Moreover, Laura and Jan discuss the chances and problems of the EU Taxonomy.
December 07, 2021
A Critical Review of the Materiality Analyses of the DAX Companies
To decide which topics to report on in their sustainability reports, most companies use materiality analyses. But although these materiality analyses could also be a key input for sustainability strategy building, these materiality analyses differ broadly with regard to their quality. To investigate this topic further, Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons has invited Jule Schwab to this episode. Jule Schwab analyzed the materiality analyses of the DAX 30 companies in her bachelor thesis. Jule explains in which respects the materiality analyses vary. Laura and Jule discuss factors like quality, frequency of publication, inclusiveness, and methods used. Furthermore, Jule stresses the importance of engaging voices of younger generations in the stakeholder dialogue. 
November 30, 2021
Transparency and the need of engaging sustainability communication
How can we get more people involved in sustainability? Why is engaging communication to external stakeholders crucial? And how can a company holistically implement transparency? Professor Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Lisa Fiedler, Head of VAUDE Academy. Lisa explains their approach to partnerships with their suppliers and various other stakeholders. Furthermore, Lisa stresses the importance of attractive reporting and communication of sustainability topics to a broad audience. Lastly, Laura and Lisa talk about the need for disruptive answers to sustainability challenges.
November 23, 2021
The housing sector and sustainability
How do we have carbon-neutral building stock and still offer affordable housing? And which risks does the housing sector face? Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and her co-host Dr. Volker Proffen, Corporate Governmental Affairs at Südzucker, discuss these questions with today’s guest Jonathan Przybylski, Sustainability Manager at Vonovia. Jonathan talks about which materials (social and ecological) are of particular concern for the company. Furthermore, he explains how sustainability, as a long-term issue, challenges traditional risk management. Lastly, Laura, Volker, and Jonathan discuss how sustainability in the housing sector challenges social questions.
November 16, 2021
Professor Sankar Sen on sustainability, consumer behavior & psychology
Nowadays, it is prevalent that companies communicate their sustainability and CSR strategies and their contributions to society. But how do consumers respond to these claims on sustainability and social issues? What challenges does sustainability communication bring? What is crucial for good communication? And what hot topics does the future bring? Professor Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discussed these questions with Professor Sankar Sen, Lawrence and Carol Zicklin Chair in Corporate Integrity and Governance, and Professor of Marketing at Baruch College/City University of New York. Furthermore, Sankar shares some information and anecdotes on his pathway from traditional consumer psychology to sustainability and CSR topics and his favorite research projects. Lastly, he stresses the importance of good theoretical frameworks in research if junior researchers want to make a unique contribution to the literature.
November 09, 2021
How can we tackle the climate crisis in the most effective way?
The climate crisis is a global issue and needs to be tackled systemically across borders. In today’s episode, Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and co-host Apurva Gosalia have invited Dr. Estelle L.A. Herlyn to discuss the challenges that the aim of carbon neutrality brings. Estelle stresses how reducing, avoiding, and offsetting emissions must go hand in hand. Furthermore, she explains her perspective on how to do offsetting right. Lastly, Laura, Apurva, and Estelle discuss the financial gaps that slow down the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and how this crisis requires international financing, the transfer of technology, and the cooperation of different actors.
November 02, 2021
Circular Economy and why we need more Partnerships
The resources which our planet can offer are limited and the consequences of consumingtoo much of them are already noticeable. Therefore, alternative business models of thecircular economy”are urgently needed. In today ́s episode Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons is supported by Co-Host and circular economy expert Talke Schaffrannek, Director Circular Economy at BASF. Together they interview Christoph Teusch, who is Corporate Responsibility Manager at “AfB social & green IT”. Christoph talks about his motivation to engage in the topic of sustainability, the company’s principle of linking social and ecological issues and how all of this ties into prolonging the life-span of IT devices and creating business partnerships. He stresses the importance and difficulties for meaningful impact measurement as well as the chances and obstacles for moving towards a more circular economy. One of the big opportunities he sees are corporations and partnerships, because he believes that this is the key for an inclusive and circular future.
October 26, 2021
CircularTree – Why digital services are essential for a sustainable and transparent supply chain
Supply chains can get complex very fast. That is why more transparency and traceability are needed to manage them well and to reduce the supply chain's carbon footprint. In this episode, Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and Gunther Walden, founder and CEO of CircularTree, discuss why digital services are essential for good supply chain management and how the lack of information regarding supply chains makes the measurement of a product's carbon footprint inaccurate. Moreover, Gunther Walden stresses the importance of collaboration and incentive systems to get as many companies as possible on board. Because, as Gunther Walden perfectly said: "You do not need to wait until you have the perfect solution. The best thing is to start early and to start small."
October 19, 2021
Insurance in times of Climate Change
How does sustainability work in the insurance sector and what about the importance of stakeholders in this context? Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and her guest Belén Barona, Sustainability Manager at Allianz, discuss these and more questions. Belen offers an insight into her expertise and talks about how she helps integrate the ESG goals into the business processes at Allianz. Belén talks about materiality analysis at Allianz as well as their risk assessment. She explains how the company makes sure to involve and engage stakeholders and why meeting their goals is so important. She says climate change is the biggest challenge for the insurance sector but sees the current hype around ESG as a sign that we are moving into the right direction. Laura and Belén also discuss in how far the wishes and demands of employees have shifted towards topics like diversity, mental health, and occupational safety.
October 12, 2021
Review of the corporate decarbonization strategies of the DAX 30
Nowadays, corporate decarbonization strategies are a must for big companies. But the strategies differ widely, e.g., with regard to scope, time frame, or transparency of reporting. In this episode, Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons talks with Isabella Aleweld, who wrote her bachelor thesis on the corporate decarbonization strategies of the DAX30 at the Chair of Sustainable Business, University of Mannheim. Isabella explains that the strategies of many companies may not be Paris-aligned and how the quality of indicators and targets differs widely. Furthermore, Isabella explains what companies with good decarbonization strategies have in common.
October 05, 2021
Ben & Jerry's and the role of corporate activism
Corporate activism is becoming more and more important these days. Especially in social media, companies are expected to speak out and take a stand on important social issues. Authenticity and credibility are essential here. In today's episode, Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons talks to Volker von Witzleben, Ben & Jerry's Social Mission Activist Germany. Volker emphasizes that credible activism only works if it is aligned with the company's values. He also explains which focus topics Ben & Jerry's has and why change is more important to Ben & Jerry's in the long run than a short PR campaign.
September 28, 2021
Driving the transformation from linear to circular economy
The limited resources on planet earth and the climate crisis challenge us to rethink our economic system. How can we use our resources in the best manner? Why do we need a transformation from a linear to a circular economy? How does the retail industry find solutions to these challenges? And what hurdles still need to be overcome to make the circular economy the dominant system? Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and co-host Talke Schaffrannek discuss these questions with Anna Frankenberg, CSR Manager at Prezero.
September 21, 2021
GRI Standards - The importance of standards for sustainability reporting
We experience a growing momentum for sustainability reporting. Nevertheless, one of the biggest challenges continues to be defining materiality. What is the definition of materiality for GRI? How are the GRI Standards created? Why do you need to understand your impact on society and the environment for financial materiality? And how and with whom is the Global Reporting Initiative collaborating? Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discusses these questions with Sabine Content, director of Corporate and Stakeholder Engagement at Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
September 20, 2021
How right.based on science’s XDC Model makes climate impacts more transparent
Sustainability strategies and net-zero goals have become an integral part of the business world. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement, especially regarding transparency. What does the path to net-zero 2040 look like? How many emissions will still be emitted until then? How does it contribute to the Paris Agreement? Prof. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons discusses these questions with Hannah Helmke, CEO, and founder of right. based on science, a climate change impact Start-Up. Hannah Helmke explains how their software contributes to actual Paris-compatible climate goals and strategies for companies and how it improves the transparency of sustainability and decarbonization strategies in general.
September 07, 2021