How to Embed Sustainability at Work

Sustainable Brands is the nation’s premier sustainability focused event, attracting nearly 2,000 attendees from across the globe. This is where industry heavyweights like BMW, Johnson & Johnson and Coca-Cola come to introduce their sustainability initiatives and discuss the value they create. I attended the conference last month on behalf of K-J and got a first hand look at some practical applications for how any organization can embed sustainability principles to drive value.

Great ideas abounded at the conference and below are some of the key concepts and takeaways that had everyone buzzing:

First and foremost, sustainability should be FUN!

We learned that if one talks joyfully about their passions that this joy becomes infectious. The Rainforest Alliance’s “Follow the Frog Video” acknowledges the fact that we’re not all going to quit our day jobs to run off to save the rainforest; but we can follow simple steps to mitigate our impact, and have a bit of fun doing it (make sure the volume is turned WAY up on this one!)

Shared value creates Win-Win-Win partnerships.

Shared Value Partnerships are concerned with how an organization can create a win-win-win scenario that provides mutual benefit for the company, the community(s) in which the company operates, and the environment that supports both.

Here is an example of a successful Shared Value Creation: Interface Carpets’ “Net Works” Program is a productive partnership with local populations in the Philippines to recycle nylon fishing nets for use in carpet manufacturing. This reduces the environmental impact on coral reefs.

And last, but certainly not least, companies with an engaged employee base are more profitable, and sustainability is the best way to engage employees.

Case study after case study demonstrated how providing employees with opportunities to engage with sustainability and implement sustainable practices during the normal course of their work days (and at home) gives companies a competitive advantage. A major focus area of the Sustainability Department at K-J is to find ways to make sustainability the default. We are always on the lookout for high impact opportunities with high business effectiveness. As the old adage goes, “None of us is as smart as all of us,” and this can also lead to the sharing of best management practices across an organization.

– Julien