TALKS.png

SWITZERLAND
JULY 2022

Max Bühler,
Global Lead Generation B, at Bühler Group.

Why do you do what you do?

Because we have to change now – not tomorrow – and the pace of change is too slow. Regarding the Climate Crisis, action must be taken now to mitigate it, if not, the poorest (particularly minorities) will be those who suffer for the lifestyles of those in the “developed” world. The current system is one designed only for exploitation and not to deliver true sustainability or equity, hence my firm believes that change will not come from above. It must come from below, through a broad-based movement with engaged and active citizens and employees demanding it.

 

 

What does (Social) Sustainability mean to you and your organization? 

To me, social sustainability is where a company lives in balance with the community. This would mean that a company’s aim is not just protifitng from people by generating a want and then selling to them but understanding the needs of the community and using their skills to provide for their needs. It would also mean paying high local wages to support these communities, allowing its members to flourish. Just like we must live in balance with nature not in control of it, we must live in balance with communities.

Who inspires you most? 

Greta von Thunberg – because she does not compromise, and she does not mince her words. She takes what has been scientifically proven and conveys that message, nothing more nothing less. Calling out the elites for their selfishness and being two-faced (Greenwashing). Rutger Bregman is another one that I have recently discovered and that I greatly admire for having thought out a radical new system that is achievable.

 

 

How do you guarantee success of your sustainability measures? 

How can you guarantee success? To me, it is not about guaranteeing success. It is about being clear where you want to go and then advocating for it repeatedly, again and again and again until you break through. If you believe in it and no one can morally or scientifically prove that you are wrong, then eventually you will succeed.

  

What’s the purpose of your organization and how do you bring it to life?

Generation B is a social employee movement that is in essence an open-ended platform where employees can step out of their day jobs and pursue their passions. We organize a large variety of events, change initiatives, and projects that cater to the large variety of interests of our employees.

 

For example: we have everything form mentorship programs to Employee Resource Groups for female employees to technical projects for NGOs and change programs pushing for the company to take sustainability more seriously. If we are missing something, then employees can come forward and use our resources and experience to start something new outside of their roles simply because it interests them.

 

It is kept alive by what it is at its core: a Networking Platform where employees can engage with each other and make new connections. We also use this platform and employees engagement tools to continuously bring up our key change topics of Sustainability and Diversity & Inclusion and how they can and should implement these principles in their private lives as well as professionally.

5bdc9087-5415-49e1-bcce-20baaaf085e3.jpg

I fully believe that for a new more sustainable and equitable planet, the system cannot remain as it is with profit and growth at the heart of all. We need a radical system re-design which must come through a broad-based bottom-up movement working within corporations."

Do you only communicate successes or also failures? 

We recently organized a F*** Up Night about projects that went completely wrong, so communicating about failure is important to us. Ask any social change movement, and you will see that you face wall after wall before getting anywhere. It’s important to be upfront about that.

 

Do you see a change in behavior in your consumers?

Slowly and steadily. We get more and more anecdotal evidence of people changing their behavior – like reducing their animal protein consumption (even eliminating it) or watching the language they use to be more inclusive. Often, this is attributed to our messaging and bringing up the issue. The challenge is scaling this now to get broad-based change in populations. This is especially challenging though because in the West, this means stepping away from our high-carbon, high-standard lifestyles and living more simply.

 

How do you integrate Diversity, Inclusion and Equity into your everyday?

By living it and trying to constantly look what I can still improve. Nothing makes me happier than when I get called out for using non-inclusive language that I have never considered before as harmful.

 

What are your organization’s goals for the next year in terms of sustainability?

We have a couple of key sustainability projects that we have developed particularly when it comes to travel (both business and commuting). The projects are designed to bring the topic of sustainability closer to our average employee particularly to our Middle Management so that they understand it better. We are also looking to encourage the company to adopt ways that make it easier for people to adapt to more sustainable lifestyles.

 

Our biggest project in terms of pushing sustainability though is a new movement that is being developed where we bring together employees from a variety of Swiss corporation who, just like us, agree that the way the system is currently set up is not working and we must fundamentally change what we value - Profit & Growth or People & Planet. Together, we will look to reframe the debate and try to reduce the harm we do(is this what you mean here?)– to basically re-purpose corporations to doing good.  

 

We are calling it the Alliance of Corporate Change Movements and it is about having a broad base of corporate activists imbedded in companies, focused just on their own companies (is this what you mean here?) and looking to change them from the inside out.

 

Who are you most grateful for?

For all the people inside and outside the movement who we get to collaborate with on these greatest of challenges. Not because we want to, because we have to.