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A force for good: Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business launches in Lancaster

Andy Rubin speaking at the event

20 November 2015

Guests from the worlds of business and academia gathered together on Wednesday for the official Lancaster launch of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business.

The Pentland Centre will bring together Lancaster University scientists and management experts with business leaders to improve sustainable business practices based on good evidence. 

The launch, held at Lancaster University Management School, was attended by distinguished guests, including Andy Rubin, Chairman of Pentland Brands, Dr Rodney Irwin from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Lancaster University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith.

Also speaking at the event were Professor Gail Whiteman, Rubin Chair and Director of the new centre, Lancaster Environment Centre’s (LEC) Professor Nigel Paul and University Director of Facilities, Mark Swindlehurst.

Professor Whiteman said: “It is exciting to launch a new transdisciplinary centre focused on scaling up business solutions for sustainability.  

“Lancaster University has shown that deep collaboration across scientific border is possible and that concrete engagement with business adds value and stimulates sustainable innovation.

“I would like to thank the Rubin Family for their vision in supporting the new Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business.”

The centre is named after the Pentland Brands group, which includes household names such as Berghaus and Speedo and is supported by The Rubin Charitable Trust.

Pentland’s Andy Rubin said: “It’s vital that we have the brightest minds in business and science working closely in a field that’s so important for businesses to act on. I hope the Pentland Centre will inspire business leaders of today, as well as the next generation.”

Following the cutting of the ribbon, Mr Rubin and Dr Irwin delivered a talk entitled “How can companies be a force for good?” - part of the University’s public lecture series – to a lecture theatre packed with guests, members of the public, students, and pupils from local secondary schools.

Andy Rubin - chairman of his family’s company, Pentland Brands - explained how the values he had been brought up with had helped to shape the business.

“For us there is no dividing line,” he said. “The moral values are held across both. If this is how you are brought up, being a force for good is easy.”

Mr Rubin examined questions such as “Why have so many companies been a force for bad?” and “Are there businesses leading the way as a force for good?” He praised Unilever as a force for good, pointing to the company’s 2020 goals for environmental and social improvements, calling them “bold, ambitious and brave”.

He concluded: “We should do more to show the companies that being a force for good pays.

“The evidence is overwhelming; being a force for good pays back in every way.”

Rodney Irwin looked at why businesses need to be a force for good.

“Climate change is a reality,” he said. “In spite of what you hear on Fox News, science is right.”

“Sustainability is a marathon and a lot of businesses have yet to cross the start line,” he said, adding that “There’s a lot of evidence that it’s the right journey to be on.”

He concluded that the new Pentland Centre would “push people across the start line.”