Social Impact Heroes Helping Our Planet: Why & How Diana Verde Nieto Of Positive Luxury Is Helping To Change Our World
Only in the last five years have people, companies, and the media begun to listen and are prepared to do something about it. I always thought that my path would not be easy, but I never thought it would be an iron man.
As a part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Verde Nieto.
Diana Verde Nieto is the Co-founder of Positive Luxury an ESG platform that help luxury companies adapt and transition to a new climate economy by assessing their ESG performance, forecast social and environmental risks and opportunities and future proof their business. Diana is a pioneer in ESG and a globally recognised figure in the sustainability field. Diana holds a degree in Global Leadership & Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, and she has been trained by Former USA Vice President, Al Gore at the Alliance of Climate Protection and subsequently being honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. Diana is an advisor to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Grass Roots Soccer, an adolescent health organisation that leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilise youth in developing countries.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Argentina, and although I grew up in a dictatorship, I was raised with the freedom to run barefoot most of the summer, ride horses, and be surrounded by the love and support of friends and family.
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Positive Luxury is a platform that helps luxury companies forecast and mitigate their sustainability and ESG risks and adapt their businesses to upcoming sustainability regulations and challenges globally. Our program enables companies to accelerate efforts to improve ESG performance and leverage sustainability to drive positive impact and corporate value. We do this by showing our members where their sustainable opportunities lie and how to embed them into their businesses to create business resilience. And innovative digital tools such as our Connected Butterfly Mark help our community members build trust and communicate with confidence and credibility to stakeholders..
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I have been working in the sustainability field for 25 years or so, back in 2007, don’t quote me on the date exactly as my memory is not what it used to be. I contributed to a report written by WWF called Deeper Luxury. I understood then that the luxury industry is in a privileged position to lead the changes and the innovation to combat climate change.
Many people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project or company started?
The first step is to have a vision, a north star, and work towards it. But it is essential to have flexibility and resilience and accept that failure is just a path towards success as nothing is accessible or a straight line. The second most important thing is a team; even when one thinks about individual athletes, like tennis players, there is always a team behind them.
It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Do you have a story about a humorous mistake that you made when you were first starting and the lesson you learned from that?
This is true, but I wouldn’t say I like the word mistakes. There are too many to pick one; every day is an adventure. I prefer to call it learnings, as you will learn from them, brush the dust off, and keep going.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
It takes a village to start a business, perhaps a global village as we had, and still have support from all corners of the planet.
Having a co-founder, Karen Hanton, Founder of toptable.com, now opentable.com, was also part of that success recipe, as we talked about the challenges, the solutions, and the dream of the future together. More recently, — Amy Nelson Bennett joined Positive Luxury as the CEO, enabling me to focus on where I excel while she drives the strategy and the businesses day-to-day. This has been game-changing.
Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
I think all of them can help, as sustainability is a systemic issue that, today, unfortunately, still lives in a silo. Politicians can embed sustainability and climate change in the curriculums at all levels of education; society and community can be accountable for our actions as every action matter, vote with our wallet and think before you buy — there are 8 billion of us. Lastly, businesses, banks, investors, and institutions can play a pivotal role in changing the system.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Sustainability and profits should not be a tradeoff.
A sustainable and not profitable company won’t exist for long; equally, a thriving company that is not sustainable and does not address the impact of climate change won’t last very long. IWC is an excellent example of a company with tangible targets and a transitional plan. They ensure they invest in preserving their craftmanship and reducing their environmental footprint while growing the business sustainably.
Are they perfect? No, but none of us are, nor should we expect companies to be. Sustainability is like life, a long journey of constant improvement to be your best and leave a legacy behind.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
I started this journey 20 years too early — only in the last five years have people, companies, and the media begun to listen and are prepared to do something about it. I always thought that my path would not be easy, but I never thought it would be an iron man.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
The survival of our species depends on it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Plant a tree even if you know that you would never sit in its shade.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-) –
May I have a small dinner party instead — a small one I, promise I will invite Beyonce, Chris Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Sudeikis, Amr Diab, Tom Cruise, Aishwarya Rai, Jiang Wen, Messi, and David Attenborough to come up with a cunning plan to make sustainability aspirational and desirable.
How can our readers follow you online
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!