During our most recent webinar, Environmental impacts and innovation: Corporate practices with green intentions, we learned from three corporate professionals who lead successful sustainability programs within their companies. As demonstrated through this webinar and our recent signature research report, The State of Corporate Citizenship, environmental issues are top of mind for leading companies. Representatives from Waste Management, Brown-Forman, and TD Bank demonstrated that leadership support, employee engagement,and even revenue generation are possible when the company values environmental sustainability. Creative solutions and meaningful investments of time, resources, and employee ingenuity enable these companies to improve the environment and their bottom line.
Tom Carpenter, Director of Growth & Development at Waste Management Sustainability Services, finds this to be no different at WasteManagement and feels fully supported by the CEO in all environmental efforts that he heads. In recent years, Waste Management has invested in recruiting and acquiring individuals with certain skill sets that can address all environmental needs the company encounters. Tom feels he has a team of experts surrounding him allowing Waste Management to build on their already successful sustainability program, which would not have been the case without the CEO’s buy-in. Waste Management has been successful in creating programs that directly relate to their business, which means regular business functions and environmental efforts can be one in the same. For example, they are creating energy directly from the waste in their landfills and are also currently looking at specking out materials that are destined to go into the landfill but can be designed into an energy source as an alternative to coal.
Suzette Carty, Manager of Environmental Sustainability and Strategy at Brown Forman Corporation, has had success with similar environmental programs, including their current research on ways to convert their largest waste stream from the spillage of distilled grain into a cereal that can be resold. This is not only an environmentally sound practice, but it also will add an additional revenue stream for Brown-Forman. Suzette emphasized that Brown-Forman recognizes the importance of having a long term corporate strategy and having sustainability in the forefront in order to optimize and control the usage of the finite resources that go into their products. Brown-Forman has also recently started the Dendri-Fund, which now gives out grants to support four environmentally focused institutions that have similar goals as Brown-Forman in increasing sustainable practices.
Diana Glassman, Head of Environmental Affairs at TD Bank, was also able to add insights on how to implement and run a successful corporate sustainability program. TD Bank has concentrated on creating an environmental program that fully engages employees, which encourages sustainable activities as well as more engaged and satisfied employees. They have implemented a framework that includes the “4 Hs:” Heart (passion and pride in participating,) Hands (efforts in doing the actual work,) Horn (communication about the efforts,) and Head (awareness of sustainability and the program.) Diana emphasized the importance of being able to measure each of these 4 attributes, which they are able to do through a mix of employee survey data and actual inputs and outputs of their volunteering programs. She found that the quantitative measurement not only increased CEO buy-in, but also seemed to motivate the employees as well. TD Bank has publicly announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by 25% and reduce paper use by 20% by 2015, which they feel this program puts them well on their way to do.
For more examples of corporate sustainability programs that have excelled, please view our archived webinars on-demand.