May 15, 2024

EP 1: What Is Sustainable Intelligence?

Meredith Binder, Chief Marketing Officer at Novata, introduces the concept of Sustainable Intelligence and Novata’s mission to empower private markets toward a more sustainable and inclusive form of capitalism. Listen as she dives into what sustainable intelligence means for society, emphasizing the importance of understanding the ESG metrics that truly matter to business. 

About Sustainable Intelligence 

Sustainable Intelligence is an interview series from Novata that explores ESG and sustainability in the private markets. From carbon accounting to using data to create value, the series dives into the challenges and opportunities facing private market investors and company leaders as their integrate ESG across the business and respond to regulatory requirements. Each episode centers authentic dialogue, highlighting experts at the forefront of advancing ESG data collection and driving meaningful progress in the sustainability landscape. Listen to more episodes.

Conversation with Meredith Binder (Transcript)

Ella Williamson:  Welcome to Sustainable Intelligence, where we discuss all things, ESG and sustainability for the Private Markets. Brought to you by Novata.  I’m Ella Williamson and I’m thrilled to be your host.  We are very excited to be joined by Meredith Binder, CMO at Novata. She is a marketing innovator, brand champion, and ultra marathon runner. Now, you might be thinking, what is sustainable intelligence? Meredith, we’d love you to unpack it for us. 

Meredith Binder: Thanks, Ella. I’m excited to be here to debut our newest series of interviews with Novata thought leaders and experts. At Novata, our mission is to empower private markets to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive form of capitalism. And as both a public benefit corporation and a certified B Corp, we believe we have a responsibility to educate on the sustainability and ESG topics that impact private markets.  Our goal is that we’re able to help build a high level of sustainable intelligence among investors and companies.  

Ella: Sustainability is clearly on everyone’s agenda at the moment. So I’m really excited to get stuck into this topic. I’d love you to expand on what Novata really means when you say sustainable intelligence.

Meredith: Sure. Well, at Novata, we believe that sustainable intelligence is not just staying on top of the topics, or regulatory events, or industry conversations that make up what is an ever evolving, constantly changing, global ESG landscape. We believe that sustainable intelligence is understanding the drivers for managing, measuring, and improving on environmental, social, and governance metrics, or what we like to call the metrics that matter.  So sustainable intelligence refers to the ability to really understand and take action on the metrics that matter to your company to achieve positive business outcomes or to manage risks and absolutely to drive value. 

Ella: That’s fascinating. I’m so excited to see how this approach translates into both our work at Novata and also driving a more sustainable future for society.  I’d love to know what Novata considers a high level of sustainable intelligence.  

Meredith: Our goal is to help the market transition from perceiving ESG data collection as a quote, tick the box exercise to truly integrating these metrics and factors into measurable and meaningful business drivers. We know that for many companies delivering on a sustainability strategy will be a multi year journey. Starting with identifying the ESG metrics that matter most to your company. We also know that many companies begin their ESG data collection journey because they’re required to by a stakeholder or by regulatory compliance.  However a firm begins on this journey, we’re here to support them with simplified but powerful sustainability solutions.  Our in house experts who make up the Novata Services team, and all of our wonderful colleagues who focus on customer success.  We’re committed to making ESG simple and user friendly so that you can build sustainable intelligence across your organization. That said, I would consider companies that have a high or a growing level of sustainable intelligence to be those companies that adopt a sustainability mindset to not just respond to those reporting requests, but to also make Material business or operational changes that really enhance the resiliency of their company.  

Ella: Thanks for that, Meredith. So it really sounds like whatever stage of the sustainability journey companies are on, the only way is up. I’d love to know in your role as CMO, how do you think about sustainable intelligence on a day to day basis?

Meredith: I can’t help but compare today’s conversation about the performance value of ESG or sustainability to the early days of brand and marketing attribution. For years I think the impact of brand investments felt sort of squishy or not real to CEOs and CFOs, and it took time for marketers to figure out how to best track and and measure,  and most importantly, communicate how brand metrics drive business value in terms that the C suite or chief finance officers can relate to.

So I really feel for those heads of ESG or chief sustainability officers out there. I think I have a sense of what you might be going through in your day to day as you work to advance your function. And I know it’s tough, but the good news is that today I truly believe that most organizations understand how investments in brand equity and engagement positively influence their company’s reputation and their revenue outcomes.

And I know we’re going to get there with sustainability.  So as we build the tools to meaningfully measure and benchmark investments in metrics like diversity or climate, safety, biodiversity, and as we gain the sustainable intelligence to communicate the business impacts of those investments, we’ll get to a place where non financial metrics and financial metrics just blur and are simply the metrics that companies track to drive long term, meaningful business value. To me, that’s real sustainable intelligence. 

Ella:  I think it’s so exciting to think about how the integration of ESG considerations into business decision making will not only enhance corporate sustainability, but also really improve financial resilience, innovation, and ultimately competitiveness. These are all topics that we plan to cover in future episodes of Sustainable Intelligence. Until next time. Let’s keep building sustainable intelligence together. Find out more at