Interview with Freya Williams, author, “Green Giants”
There are nine corporations that make over $1 billion in annual revenues from products or services with sustainability or social good at their core. These companies are known as the Green Giants.
Freya Williams is North America CEO of Futerra, a global sustainability communications and consulting firm whose clients include Danone, SAB Miller, Estee Lauder, AXA Insurance and Unilever. Her longstanding career as advisor to such companies, in addition to her work with the United Nations, has helped provide insights for her new book, GREEN GIANTS: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses. With a primary focus on teaching companies how to incorporate sustainability, responsibility and social good into their businesses and brands, and make money at the same time, she has many successes to share.
You have a new book coming out called “GREEN GIANTS: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses.” What is a Green Giant and how are Green Giants defining business history?
The Green Giants are nine companies each generating over a billion dollars in annual revenue from products or services with sustainability or social good at their core. Selling everything from burritos to airplane engines, they realized the potential to not just conserve, but make, money from sustainability-inspired innovations. Collectively, these more sustainable business lines generate over $100 billion annually.
How do these companies impact the lives of global consumers and can you share a few examples?
Their impact is broad and large but perhaps their biggest impact is that they’ve made products not just greener, but better, so consumers no longer have to choose between performance and sustainability.
Tesla is one of the Green Giants. They saw that the majority of environmentally friendly vehicles traded off performance for sustainability and as a result, only appealed to a niche “green” customer. Tesla wanted wider appeal. They wanted to build an environmentally sound product that appealed to consumers focused on performance. Tesla is not just an environmentally superior product, it’s the highest performing car Consumer Reports has ever tested. Its competition is not the Toyota Prius, it’s the traditional luxury automakers.