Take “The Resister” to Lunch

"Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." - Rumi

Pushback or outright obstruction from employees and managers skeptical of your organization’s sustainability program isn’t just annoying. It can also be a set back to progress and a barrier to bringing about a culture of sustainability within your organization. Fortunately, there are strategies to help aspiring change agents navigate these conversation landmines.  So who are the resisters in your organization? What conversation(s) are you avoiding with them? What new way of being and engaging do you want to try out? And most importantly...when is lunch?

Study Links Green Buildings to Higher Cognitive Function

Buildings have a powerful influence on health because we humans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors.  Recently, researchers from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment worked with leading academic institutions to study how green buildings affect health and cognitive function. The study, funded by United Technologies, was designed to simulate indoor environmental quality conditions in both green and conventional buildings to assess the impacts on human health and cognitive function.  The implications of this study are significant.  We can improve worker productivity and safety, student learning, and patient healing by implementing better indoor air quality and ventilation. 

Top Ten Stakeholder Engagement Trends of 2017

Each year, Future 500 identifies ten social, environmental, or economic trends that will shape how corporations and their external stakeholders interact during the following year and beyond.  It just released its sixth annual report, Top 10 Stakeholder Engagement Trends of 2017.  Here are some highlights.

In the context of an increasingly polarized country, many issues seem to have become a political wedge. As a result, Future 500 sees environmental protection and social justice advocates becoming more likely to seek private sector leadership to drive social and environmental progress.  Corporations will have more opportunities to engage stakeholders in advancing solutions around social and ecological equity. Market forces will support new and continuing efforts to protect oceans, forests, and climate. The report provides many insights to guide organizations as they engage with each other during what is characterized as a period of volatile change. 

A Day Without Waste 2017:  Deepening our Commitment

Last month, our company celebrated A Day Without Waste.  This event, now in its 4th year, encourages us to be more aware of our daily habits, and to apply some mindfulness and creativity to the choices we make each day. By now, many of us here at Sustrana are experienced in the art of a day-long zero waste challenge. We push the boundaries of our already impressive reduce-reuse-recycle game, which includes composting our Q-tips, packing snacks in reusable containers, cooking for our company potluck from scratch, and much more. We’ve even indoctrinated our newest team members to embrace the quest for zero waste. 

But despite our best efforts, we all encountered barriers beyond our control – limited consumer options, antiquated recycling systems, pushback from our own families and yes, even mother nature. The day had its frustrations and left us wondering: How much impact can we have as individuals if the system itself perpetuates waste?

Six Steps for Creating Business Value through Sustainability

We are excited to present a new white paper, Six Steps to Creating Business Value through Sustainability

Complexities stemming from demands for transparency, a focus on corporate values, and climate change, to name a few, are creating conditions entirely new to businesses.

When not managed, these factors increase business risk. When managed well, they create opportunities to grow revenue and control costs.  

 This paper will help you to:

  • Assess environmental, social, and governance risks and opportunities
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Plan for action that will yield better results, quickly and with less expense
Strategy vs. Projects: How to Make Sustainability Stick

For companies trying to become sustainable, it is often common to begin with the “quick-wins”— the short-term projects that you know you can achieve. There’s plenty of merit to that. Early and fast successes set a great tone for an organization’s sustainability efforts, and can encourage upper and middle management to support more.

Yet when too much focus is placed on easy, discrete projects, once those projects are completed, sustainability efforts can often come to a halt. There is a scrambling to figure out what projects should be selected next. And it is likely that the quick-wins selected required few resources, meaning that additional projects become increasingly costly (and therefore harder to get approved).

To avoid this pitfall, companies should be mindful from the start. Getting quick win projects done is fantastic, but there needs to be an overarching sustainability strategy.

4th Annual Celebration of A Day Without Waste

Daily at the Sustrana office, we take recycling seriously, very seriously. However, recycling and our other routine approaches to sustainability will pale in comparison to the level of attention that we happily bring to waste management on Tuesday, April 18 in our celebration of Sustrana’s 4th annual A Day Without Waste, part of our observance of Earth Week 2017. 

Returnships: a win-win idea for returning to the workplace

Nearly 40% of experienced, professional women leave their jobs for a significant amount of time to care for a child or other family member. A recent Pew Research report found that this drop-out rate is a significant driver of the persistent gender pay gap. Those leavers who want to return to work after a lengthy break face some dismal obstacles. Carol Fishman Cohen, a finance professional with an MBA from Harvard, left her job at Drexel Burnham to raise her children. Eleven years and four children later, she decided it was time to return to work. After encountering, and overcoming, many of the challenges in her path, she opted for a career change. She co-founded iRelaunch in 2012, which provides services and support to professional women looking to restart a career after an extended absence.

Inspiring Quotes for Sustainability Leaders

We live at a critical moment in human history. In these dizzying times of immense change and uncertainty, the need for courageous leadership has never been greater. I am deeply inspired by the hard work and dedication of sustainability leaders and visionaries who continuously work through the ups and downs to create a better world. A world where people take care - of themselves, each other, and the planet. A world that creates family sustaining jobs for all. A world where people can bring their whole selves to work. A world built on trust, respect, and inclusivity. Where everyone belongs.

I hope the following quotes nourish and inspire you for the great work ahead. In the words of the late Ray Anderson, “Get up and get going. There’s a lot to do.”

6 Questions Sustainability Managers Need to Ask Themselves Every Day

Sustainability managers have a lot to think about, especially because sustainability programs tend to be new initiatives for many organizations. It’s easy to feel as though you’re in constant “sink or swim” mode. There can be times where the path forward isn’t clear. There are 6 questions that sustainability managers must ask themselves to help focus their work as soon as they sit down at their desks.

How Sustrana is Helping 1,000 Companies Build Sustainability Programs By 2020

This story is part of "Corporate Social Responsibility" month for Generocity. Find the series here.

One thing that keeps popping up in our coverage of corporate social responsibility is the variety of ways corporations and organizations can tackle sustainability. But that can also make it difficult for each entity to find what works best for them.

That’s where a company like Sustrana comes in. Based in Devon, the women-owned, B Corp-certified company has a mission of helping companies build and manage strategic sustainability programs, which it accomplishes through its online software tool and platform.

Bain Report Reinforces Value of Front Line Support for CSR Efforts

It’s become an all too familiar story—a passionate CEO declares sustainability a top priority and launches a comprehensive and well-resourced program, only to have it lose momentum and fall victim to other perceived priorities.  To better understand the roadblocks that even well-intentioned sustainability efforts face and how leading companies overcome them, Bain & Company conducted a survey of more than 300 companies engaged in such transformations. Included in those interviews were the heads of sustainability at companies that have been recognized for their results. The resulting report, Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability, provides sobering statistics and a path forward. 

Higher Ed Sustainability Leaders

Campus sustainability is no longer limited to recycling and lighting retrofits. Today, many colleges and universities are leading the way by designing whole-system approaches and innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues. These cutting-edge innovations serve as powerful examples of what can be achieved on a larger scale.

WEF Report Shows a Year of Disruption and Upheaval in all Sectors

Every year the World Economic Forum (WEF) releases its Annual Report—a document that provides a comprehensive, systems-oriented, future-looking strategic guide to help global leaders tackle the most current challenges facing our world today. This year the WEF asked 750 experts to identify the most acute global concerns and CNBC reported on the top five. Spoiler Alert: We have a lot to work on. 

6 Post Election CSR Trends to Watch in 2017

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has progressed in the past decade from a nice addition to a strategic priority for many businesses. In 2017, there is the hope that companies go beyond maintaining commitments to sustainability to becoming pioneers of global progress. Forbes reached out to CSR experts, including experts at the Harvard Business Review (HBR), to find out how the new Trump administration will affect corporate sustainability, what trends will emerge in 2017, and how the sustainability industry will continue to evolve.  

Who will lead on climate change? Businesses!

The strengthening scientific consensus on the causes of global warming, the accumulating negative impacts from an already changing climate in many regions, and the improved models to forecast dire climate change and sea-level rise in the not-so-distant future, have all contributed to the international community hitting a new high in its level of consensus in 2016.  Where will the critical leadership come from? 

New Non-financial Reporting Requirements are in Effect. Do They Apply to You?

The 2014 EU Directive requiring disclosure of non-financial information has gone into effect as of January 1, 2017. Applicable to public companies operating in the EU with more than 500 employees, the directive mandates disclosure of extensive non-financial information in companies’ annual reports. 

The Elephant in the Room: Mental Health in the Workplace

Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to workforce health and wellness.  More and more employers are creating initiatives aimed at improving employees’ health (think of smoking cessation programs, fitness promotion programs, and anti-obesity programs as examples). But one aspect of “wellness” is too often left out. Good mental health is fundamental to everyone’s overall health and wellness. But employees’ mental health illnesses or problems have simply not been arising on most organizations’ radar screens. And that’s a shame, because unaddressed mental health problems in today’s workplaces have large impacts on both the affected employees and their employers as well.

Kigali Deal Focuses on Curbing HFCs to Counter Climate Change

In October 2016, negotiators from 170 countries reached a landmark compromise in Kigali, Rwanda to counter climate change by cutting the international use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

Unlike the recent COP21 Paris agreement, which included voluntary pledges by majority of the countries in the world to cut carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the Kigali deal targets one specific thing – HFCs – and has deadlines to replace HFCs with more environmentally conscious alternatives. Though HFCs make up a small percentage of atmospheric greenhouse gases, they have 1,000 times the heat-trapping strength of carbon dioxide, making HFCs a supercharged greenhouse gas. 

From Cotton Seed to Blue Jeans…How the Apparel Industry is Conserving Water

In just 15 years we will have a 40% deficit of global fresh water. Industrial demand for water is expected to increase 400% by 2050. This means that all industries need to be focused on how they can conserve water resources.  The textile/apparel industry has significant water needs if it is to produce the 400 billion square meters of fabric used annually for clothing. Conservation and technology are helping to make production more sustainable.