We recently caught up with Ben Stuart, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Bank of the West, to discuss the work he’s most excited about right now, including a new Instagram photo challenge that showcases positive change in the world.
Ben also shares how Bank of the West’s environmental policies have led to new business, what inspires him to prioritize sustainability in his work, and why companies and consumers should care about where their money goes and who they bank with.
SB: What project are you most excited about right now?
Stuart: As the bank for a changing world, we like to celebrate and showcase positive change. We're about to kick off our second #CaptureTheChange campaign on Instagram, inviting photographers to share photos of change related to sustainability. Photographers from around the world shared amazing images earlier this year in our first Capture the Change contest.
SB: How is social or environmental innovation driving value for your business?
Stuart: As a bank, our policies have a material impact on the planet but are also good for business. Consumers are excited to find a bank that shares their values and we're seeing executives from large corporations reaching out to talk with us. Our environmental policies win us new business. For example, earlier this year, a city in Southern California awarded its banking relationship to Bank of the West because of our policies that prohibit or restrict lending to environmentally harmful industries.
SB: What inspires and drives you to work on sustainability?
Stuart: We’re living in a time where decisive, sweeping action is needed. Yet, we continue to see a lot of windmills popping up in corporate ads while companies drone on about being committed to sustainability, without the substantial policies to actually drive change. Our kids and future generations deserve better than lip service. I'm driven by the urgency and the opportunity to make real change. I love being part of a company that's taking meaningful action.
SB: Can you share something about yourself that would surprise us? Any hidden talents?
Stuart: I've been to Burning Man seven times, where I may or may not have learned how to juggle, another hidden talent. I’m also an avid outdoor enthusiast, a self-proclaimed fast skier, slow runner, crash-prone mountain biker, and pathetic surfer.
SB: If you had unlimited time and resources, on what type of work would you want to collaborate with fellow SB Members?
Stuart: I'd like to raise the collective consciousness of corporate America that banks play a critical role in a companies' sustainable supply chain. We've been asking consumers and businesses recently, "What on earth is your bank financing?", to start the conversation around what our money in the bank is doing. In fact, we made a fun and informative video. I'd like to work with others to raise awareness among corporate America that they should pay attention to what their money in the bank is doing.
SB: Why is your participation in the SB Member Network important?
Stuart: To address the urgent climate crisis, individuals, governments and the private sector must work together to effect change. It's crucial for businesses to have meaningful policies with measurable impact and to work together to address climate change and create a sustainable future.
SB: Anything else you'd like to share with fellow SB Member?
Stuart: It's critical for people to be aware that money in the bank doesn't just sit there, but actually goes out in the world out and finances things. That money can finance activities that are harmful to the environment and unsustainable, or they can have a positive impact in the world, financing activities that align with your personal and corporate values. I'd invite everyone to find out what your bank is financing.