Yola Carlough, Director of Sustainability at Burt’s Bees recently spoke to students hosted by Net Impact Goizueta. PHOTO: Nicole Perez

In 2010, Burt’s Bees was named the No. 1 green brand as perceived by U.S. consumers by the ImagePower Green Brands Survey. That recognition was largely due to the efforts of Yola Carlough, Director of Sustainability at Burt’s Bees since 2007.

As part of the Net Impact Sustainability Speaker Series at Goizueta, Carlough spoke about the need for socially conscious business leadership due to the deteriorating nature of the environment and the absence of effective justice systems to promote human rights.

As of 2007, Burt’s Bees has produced more than 197 products for facial, skin, lip, hair and baby care, along with men’s grooming products and outdoor remedies distributed in nearly 30,000 retail outlets.

Carlough emphasized the importance of “The Greater Good” business model which drives Burt’s Bees.

The model addresses environmental, humanitarian and health concerns. As the company works to fulfill its lofty goals by 2020, Burt’s Bees shows corporate, social responsibility initiatives are not just side projects, but part of an all-encompassing mission entrenched in its culture

Burt’s Bee stays with the model l by insisting on the use of all natural ingredients. In addition, the company’s incentivized contests have encouraged employees to be more sustainable and look for new ways to reduce waste and energy consumption.

Looking forward, Carlough says Burt’s Bees faces two distinct challenges.

One is selling a premium product with sustainable packaging, which may not hold the same visual appeal. The second is working with suppliers who are committed to ideals expressed in The Greater Good model.

But while Burt’s Bees has accomplished much, it has a long way to go.

Carlough said she believes the future of corporations is not just about the bottom line. To ensure continued success in an increasingly competitive landscape, Carlough says that corporations must focus on several things: consumer loyalty, recruitment and retention of employees and brand image and future regulation in regards to sustainable practices.

Carlough  said the most successful companies in the next decade will be the ones that adapt the fastest.

She encouraged young people coming into the work force, including students at Goizueta, to look for companies which reflect the values present in Burt’s Bees business model and to continue to collaborate and envision new ways to achieve a sustainable and socially responsible future.