Episode 65

Building the business case for Sustainable Marketing (Part 1) - Caroline Taylor, Former CMO, IBM Global Markets

Published on: 21st September, 2023

“There are four questions every business needs good answers to. Why would anyone want to buy from us? Why would anyone want to work for us? Why would anyone want to invest in us? Why would anyone allow us to operate in their community, society?”

It’s another two-parter and in this episode (Part 1), we dive into the role of CMOs and leaders when it comes to the sustainability agenda. We were joined by Caroline Taylor OBE, former CMO for IBMs international business and a huge advocate for ‘adding value in many other places in the world.’

Already aware of sustainability back in the early 2000’s Caroline got really focused in the mid 2000’s when IBM was doing work in ‘green IT’ and 2% of global carbon emissions were attributed to IT. Caroline explains, “I was very struck with the notion…but what about the other 98% and how we might use technology to mitigate that?” It was at that point she fell down the sustainability rabbit hole and started looking into how IBM could become a greater part of the solution whilst at the same time, find new ways to differentiate.

As well as looking for answers externally, Caroline talks at depth about the need to changes hearts and minds on sustainability internally, and raises the important point that to do this effectively requires conversations which focus on, “why this is a business opportunity as opposed to being a really important thing to do.” Caroline explains, “learning how to shift my focus from here’s a brilliant marketing idea, to here’s a brilliant business idea that’s going to make us money, our shareholders will love us, but it’s going to be tapping into something that is really important societally at the same time, is a win, win, win.” And, when it comes to stakeholder engagement we have to understand that, “enlightenment is important but the self-interest is real – we have to think about all of our stakeholder and what’s in it for them”

The need for leaders to recognise and see the opportunity in sustainability is so critical to balancing the triple bottom line and protecting the sustainability of their business. This episode explores the need for investment, the shift away from short-term thinking and strategising and the very real, tough choices and prioritisation that organisations need to make. Caroline also shares her insights into the role B2B marketing and business plays….for marketing she says it’s about “taking all the smart marketers that care and taking them outside of their day jobs to figure out how to use all those marketing skills to educate and engage and empower people to make better choices.” And, we couldn’t agree more, the case for education and awareness and the significant role and opportunity marketers and leaders have really shines through in this episode.

So, tune in and listen, and don’t forget there’s Part 2 in two weeks time where we continue the conversation, delving into the tactical side of marketing, the importance of listening and the challenge of what to measure when it comes to value creation around driving a more sustainable marketing agenda.


You’ll find the Podcast on all the usual pod platforms - and also on The Global Player and via The Marketing Society. If you love it, do share it and spread the word. Talking about climate change and the role we play is one of the most important things we can do. So join the conversation. We’re all in this together.

Our podcasts are recorded purely via online conferencing platforms, we apologise for any minor sound quality issues.

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The Marketing Society podcast
The Marketing Society is a progressive global community of senior marketers. Our purpose is to empower our members to be brave leaders. Since 1959, we have grown into an influential network of 2500 members.
The Marketing Society is a progressive global community of senior marketers. Our purpose is to empower our members to be brave leaders. Since 1959, we have grown into an influential network of more than 2650+ members across our global hubs: London, Scotland, Hong Kong, Singapore, UAE and New York. Our members are mostly senior clients (over seventy per cent) from brands such as ASOS, Barclays, IBM, Disney, HSBC, Mars, Samsung, Unilever and Vodafone.

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