Exclusive interview: Steve Burt CEO EQi Group
Steve Burt is the Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, founder and original investor in EQi Group. Steve has spent the past 14 years working with economics data relating to sustainability value, P&L resiliency and investor risk. Steve has used his 25 plus years experience in data acquisition, analysis, visualisation management analytics and operational applications to shape business methods in sustainability application. He has focused on increasing value and long term profitability and talks to Blue & Green about how he is doing that wit EQi Group.
In 140 characters or less – what is EQi?
EQi is a data and technology company providing business intelligence to increase economic performance, ecological balance and social compatibility.
What was the driver for creating EQi – what gap did it fill?
I founded EQi to provide businesses teams with trusted economic indicators and analysis tools that could accurately translate the economics of sustainability. I wanted to empower businesses at every level to use their operating data to develop individual sustainability strategies by understanding their own particular profit & loss material risks.
A key driver was to integrate economic performance with ecological and social impact management to start building a more inclusive economic approach to our current business model. I strongly believe that we need to provide companies, their customers and their investors with quantification processes to make informed decisions.
Today, sustainability has been dominated by compliance and marketing perspectives, completely missing the opportunity to create and drive value through creating lean and efficient business operations. I created EQi to change that misdirection so that sustainability can be understood and used for economic profitability while maintaining ecological balance and social compatibility.
Over the past 15 years I have seen more and more executive teams seek to understand sustainability and what it means in financial terms and the effects to their business. However, to-date executive teams have found it either impossible, highly time consuming or very expensive answer their normal business questions. The primary aim of EQi is to give executive teams the tools to do their job.
Business teams face three pain points, 1) Acquiring the relevant data, 2) Ensuring the data is accurate and relevant and 3) Easily turning the data into information. EQi addresses these three data pain points with evolution®, the first resource efficiency planning exchange.
We neutralise the data pain points by accommodating the challenge of multiple IT systems, departmental silos and global supply chains in a single exchange with seamless and secure multi stakeholder interface. With one single record evolution tracks not only all the different relevant metrics, but also integrates the many different stakeholders involved (suppliers, etc.), letting each extract the pertinent information for their role.
We eliminate transparency gaps, data blockages and cost blind spots throughout a supply chain, exposing the risks a company could face, where they could originate, and highlighting the possible resource efficiency improvements that could drive sustainable innovation and long term profit growth. We created one record and one truth so that an entire value chain can participate in a shared value process to benefit every stakeholder.
Who is it primarily for?
evolution is for every business that seeks to improve their resource efficiency management processes and reduce operating risk. It is designed for all size businesses to use as needed, turnkey, regardless of size, expertise or legacy systems. evolution provides the shared value process that connects global organisations and micro businesses for mutual benefit.
We at EQi are passionate about building an inclusive business society, which benefits all its stakeholders, that empowers micro businesses to build resilient operations as part of the global value chain. It’s time to provide a true value chain where everyone engages in providing customer satisfaction as one team, shared value process in action.
We strongly believe it is time that we make it easy for businesses throughout a value chain to share information and create an integrated reporting approach which informs every stakeholder. EQi offers the integrated value chain reporting solution.
What difference does EQi want it to make?
Our vision is to make it easy for businesses to identify their value creation opportunities and drive innovative thinking to drive the next level of business efficiency and sustained profitability.
What are the barriers to making that difference?
The main task is to change the current conversation from one which uses the current definition of ‘sustainability’ (i.e., conversations that centre around compliance and reporting) to one that centres around democratising information and shared value and considers a socially/ecologically balanced approach to business.
One barrier is the challenge of easily and cost effectively acquiring the relevant data a business team needs to make operating decisions that drive efficiency. A second barrier is the lack of transparency throughout supply and value chains. Another barrier is corporate culture and behaviour. The last barrier is the most difficult to address but the most powerful once changed.
Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?
I have met many people over the years that are passionate about helping business to change however in recent years a few people come to mind who I applaud.
They are people in prominent positions who are taking the lead on the world stage, such as Paul Polman, CEO of Unilver; Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO PepsiCo; Marc Boland, CEO of Marks & Spencer; Sir Ian Cheshire, CEO of Kingfisher; Jochen Zeitz, Director of Kering and Chairman of the board’s sustainable development committee, and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of The B Team; Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute; Rachel Kyte, Head of Climate Change at the World Bank; Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to name a but a few.
The more business leaders who demonstrate how being sustainable brings increased profit performance and how holistic strategies to managing a company make a business stronger, the more the more hesitant adaptors will follow. The investment community also has a big part to play. It is encouraging that impact investors are fast growing along with main stream global financial institutions, stepping up to the challenge of funding sustainable growth.
It’s not just people but also publications such as Blue & Green Tomorrow, The Guardian, GreenBiz and Triple Pundit along with organisations such as Sustainable Brands playing an important role. I have started a conversation about business change and idea sharing on LinkedIn which is attracting people who wish to share practical ideas and build an inclusive business process.
When business leaders understand sustainability and can measure it as a core part of a business performance we will see sustainable brands building sustainable profits and creating a sustainable future for our planet.
Is company action today commensurate with the massive economic, social and environmental challenges we face?
The business community is starting to develop conversations about the future of our society and how it will be structured. However we are against a climate clock, which is ticking. The problem is we still don’t understand how fast the climate is changing and hence how quickly we need to act.
Business are truly in a tough position since they need to maintain financial performance to satisfy the markets while calculating how much investment should be made in which change and how quickly. I would honestly state I fear business is behind the curve; hence I believe the pace of change to sustainable operating models needs to increase.
The challenges we face are enormous. We as a society will only be able to master these challenges if all stakeholders become part of the solution. I believe the common dominator is accurate, verified and trusted data that can be turned into information everyone can understand. We don’t need gurus or big gestures, we need democratised information that society can make honest decisions with, that consumers can use to purchase with confidence and that drives economic stability, ecological balance and supports social compatibility.
Sustainability is not just about low carbon or diluting modernisation, it’s about smart consumption, long term profitability and business resiliency.
How can people – individuals and organisations – find out more about EQi?
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