I’ve recently had a number of conversations with my colleagues and sustainability leaders at long-standing member companies about the value of BSR membership—why is it that more than 250 of the world’s largest and most influential companies have chosen to work with us on the business of building a better world? There are a wide range of answers. Different people, even within the same company, have different reasons that they most appreciate their BSR membership. Here’s a “Top 10” list of the reasons to be a member that I hear the most:
- Access our global network: With a network that spans eight offices around the world, includes more than 10 major industries, and convenes issue experts on a range of sustainability issues, BSR offers members personalized access to our community. We help make connections and leverage trusted relationships across regions, functions, sectors, and issues. In fact, we often introduce colleagues within the same company who don’t yet know each other. Companies love how we can connect them not only to businesses across industries, but also to key NGOs and other noncorporate stakeholders. As one member put it, "You (BSR) can call Shell, and you can call WWF, and they both pick up the phone."
- Draw upon our expertise: Members benefit from our deep expertise in specific issues, as well as our ability to draw connections across issues. For example, we don’t only view climate from a climate lens—we also understand the implications of climate change on human rights and women’s empowerment, and this is true across issues. While many organizations offer deep expertise in one or two topics, your company can use BSR’s knowledge across most of the issues you focus on—meaning we can serve as a one-stop shop for your sustainability needs. Moreover, our diverse backgrounds help us “speak the language” of your colleagues in other teams and translate your sustainability priorities across departments.
- Participate in business-focused convenings: BSR brings together the leading sustainable business voices in a variety of formats so that you and your colleagues can learn, engage, and walk away with practical insights. BSR organizes more than a dozen webinars per year as part of our Sustainability Matters series. These webinars (and their recordings) feature thought leaders discussing trends and best practices and are usually made available exclusively to BSR members. BSR also convenes member companies for regular regional networking and best-practice-sharing events, including breakfast presentations, workshops, and executive-level dinners. We host one of the world’s leading sustainable business events in the form of our annual BSR Conference, which just celebrated its 25th year.
- Collaborate for systemic solutions: At BSR, we know that an individual company cannot solve systemic sustainability challenges alone. Through structured platforms, we bring together peer companies, stakeholders, and whole industry value chains in search of shared solutions—from sharing best practices to changing business norms and working with multiple partners to implement change on the ground. We provide members the opportunity to shape, develop, and scale these action-oriented collaborations.
- Phone a friend (us): We are there to support our members as individuals in their efforts to advance sustainability in their organizations. Whether you have a large team or a team of one, BSR is your extended team—we are in your corner providing resources, support, and advocacy. We don't just tell you want you want to hear: We are constructive partners, but we also bring credibility and stakeholder perspectives to the conversation. You can call on us to meet with one of your executives, help answer day-to-day questions (e.g. investor questions, preparing for executive meetings, etc.), or identify off-the-shelf resources before you spend time starting from scratch (e.g. examples of good policies, slides on topics, etc.). I always tell members to reach out more; after all, you don’t know if you don’t ask.
- Take advantage of formal membership benefits: We’ve structured a number of ways to make sure you benefit from our experience—through your member engagement option, quarterly check-ins, and an annual member meeting, you can find out about our latest learnings from the field. In addition to responding to ad-hoc questions, BSR provides practical, regular support across sustainability issues informed by our decades of work with companies.
- Stay ahead of trends and emerging issues: BSR members also benefit from the opportunity to stay ahead of emerging issues and plan for tomorrow. The biweekly BSR Insight provides an overview of BSR’s most recent thinking, research, and events. You can share this with multiple contacts across your company, so everyone can learn about sustainability topics relevant to their roles. Our new Sustainable Futures Lab will also provide you with even greater ability to anticipate how future changes might impact sustainable business.
- Drive visibility and gather input for your company’s sustainability efforts: BSR provides a well-respected, credible platform to showcase innovative practices and gather feedback on challenges. Our members speak at BSR events; they share practices and develop partnerships via our collaborations; and they are highlighted as case studies in BSR’s research, website, social media, blog, and reports and publications.
- Find your next colleague: This is perhaps the simplest but most underrated benefit of BSR membership—our jobs board: We’ve posted more than 1,000 job opportunities since 2001. Given that we have such a fantastic network, BSR members often tell us that they find the best job candidates via their (free) postings on our careers page. We all know how overwhelming the hiring process can be and how hard it is to find the right people, but we aim to simplify this for BSR members with our website.
- Shape the future of sustainable business: We view our members as real partners as we work together to shape the future of our field. Over the past 25 years, our members have been central to defining our work, and as we look ahead, we invite you to collaborate with us on creating a new agenda, a new approach, and a new voice for business. We’ve recently launched a paper on "The Future of Sustainable Business" to initiate this dialogue, and we hope our members will join us in articulating, and then achieving, a new vision together.
Why is your company a BSR member? Are there any reasons that are missing from this list? Let us know on Twitter @BSRnews using the #BSRmember hashtag, email us, or join us for our upcoming webinar about BSR membership.