Society is either in a time of “permacrisis” (a period of insecurity that goes on for a long time) or “polycrisis” (many depressing factors combining to create one big, alarming super-situation), or both, depending on who you ask.

One thing that is certain is that businesses that are at the forefront of the sustainability movement will need to redefine their actions and purpose if we are to respond to the converging crises of climate, nature and society.

At edie 23 in London last week, we asked a host of delegates and speakers to outline what key traits they believe business leaders will need to develop in order to lead us to a prosperous and just net-zero transition.

To mark International Women’s Day, we’ve pulled out seven key quotes from the women who are at the forefront of changing corporate approaches to climate action.

Amy Bourbeau, co-founder and chief impact officer, Seismic claims that businesses need to shift from a “short-term point of view” to longer-term ones that focus on how businesses can be “solutions to the problems” rather than compounding the issues.

Katie Taylor, SDR manager, Neighbourly spoke of the need for “compassion and empathy” both socially and environmentally. “You need to have real care for this otherwise it’s inauthentic and falls at the first hurdle,” Taylor says.

Megan Adlen, group sustainability director, Travis Perkins listed “collaboration” as the first and foremost key trait for corporate leadership. “We need to see this as pre-competitive…to engage as much as possible so that everyone can understand their role,” Adlen says.

Michaela Lindridge, Head of ESG, Severfield spoke of the need for “agile leadership”, not just to transition to net-zero but to a future that is fit for purpose for everyone.

Crista Buznea, head of marketing at Ecologi and former edie 30 under 30 member, spoke of the net-zero transition requiring businesses to “step into an arena” and be “brave and courageous”. Buznea notes that the transition won’t be easy and will likely be “messy” but that businesses needed to progress, develop and innovate. “Step by step we will conquer this”, she adds.

Anuradha Chugh, chief executive Pukka Herbs notes that businesses are facing “conflicting challenges” when looking at issues like growth, impact and quality, but that the key trait for organisations was “keeping all stakeholders around the table when making decisions, and that includes the planet”.

Rhian Sherrington, founder and head coach Global Women in Sustainability Network claims that businesses are “treading out into the unknown” and effective leadership needs “to be courageous”.

Amy Vickers, Partnerships manager Alturistia spoke of corporate “superpowers” of tenacity, collaboration, innovation and creativity. Vickers also states that conferences like edie 23 are valuable to allow like-minded women who are passionate about saving the planet to come together to share ideas.

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