There is a new initiative that aims to build a better future for the Philadelphia region by leveraging the power of the local business community. Best for PHL is a business-led program working to encourage, equip, and recognize companies of all sizes and sectors who are acting as good community citizens and committing themselves to improving job quality, building stronger communities, and responsibly using environmental resources.
The program is spearheaded by ImpactPHL, with lead partners such as the Sustainable Business Network, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Halloran Philanthropies, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
Businesses who want to become Best for PHL Community Members can attend a free workshop where they explore sustainability best practices and set a baseline for their company’s impact using a light version of the B Lab Assessment . The workshop also gives participants the opportunity to connect with and learn from other like-minded business leaders in the Philadelphia region.
The program is growing stronger with each new Community Member. The goal is to have at least 250 companies in the Philadelphia region participate - and the initiative is well on its way! Best for PHL recently surpassed the 100 company milestone.
In July, Sustrana hosted a Best for PHL workshop at Saint-Gobain’s North American Headquarters . Over a dozen local companies and non-profits participated in the workshop. A few of the participants recently shared their experience with us. Here are some highlights from our conversations.
KQ: What inspired you to participate in the Best for PHL Challenge?
“When I received the invitation for the workshop, it seemed like a great opportunity to get some personal assistance with working through some of the questions I had regarding the B Lab assessment. That’s exactly what happened. Signing up and going to the structured event with other people helped me get over that hurdle and complete the assessment.”
– Cindy Mehallow, Mehallow Communications
“I wanted to learn more about the other companies in the Philadelphia area and what they are doing to make the city more sustainable.... One of the things I like about being in a sustainability role at a company is that when I meet other sustainability professionals, there is a lot of cooperation and shared best practices. We're all aiming for the same goal so people are much more willing to share their sustainability journey.”
– Ashley Paulsworth, Veolia North America
“Knowing that we haven’t spent a lot of time incorporating sustainability into our business plan, our strategic plan, and in our day-to-day operations, I thought this would be a good place to start.”
– Tom Cockley, Gulden Ophthalmics
KQ: What did you learn from the assessment? Did you have any “ah-ha” moments?
“It’s eye opening just to work through what sorts of things you can be thinking about and doing. Out of those ideas, there’s some low hanging fruit that can be implemented pretty easily. It also showed that although we have a long way to go, there are some positive things we’re already doing.”
– Brian Winter, Vertex
“It was interesting to test my knowledge. I was mostly surprised at how much we’re actually doing in these areas already and that we’re actively aware of them. That doesn’t mean that we’ve surpassed the goals or that we’re in good shape for everything, but it’s certainly on our radar and it’s something that we’re working on.”
– Ashley Paulsworth
“We have a lot of work to do. I know that without setting a baseline, we would have no direction. By establishing a baseline, we know where we are, where we need to be, and now we can set up a process to get there.”
– Tom Cockley
KQ: Is there anything impact-related that your company is already doing that you’re particularly proud of?
“We already have a sustainability team that I was fortunate to join, which has been doing a lot of work to meet market demands for sustainability and advise the company on best practices. The team led projects to manage energy use and greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of being cost-neutral, but we actually got a positive return on investment. We’re living up to our values and doing our part to act responsibly.”
– Brian Winter
“I think something we’re doing that’s really going to be a game changer in the world of sustainability is reaching into our supply chains for solutions that are part of the circular economy. We are taking a more active approach in looking at our technology and our solutions and trying to partner with customers within our supply chain so that they can do things like become a zero waste facility or become energy neutral. I think that looking at the supply chain in that way is going to become more and more prevalent. So I’m proud that we’re already doing that and looking at the business that way.”
– Ashley Paulsworth
Final Reflections on The Best for PHL Challenge
“I like the Best for PHL challenge because its approach echoes advice I give to my clients, especially ones that are starting out in their sustainability journey or producing their first CSR report. Companies are sometimes hesitant to make a commitment or go public with this information. They may feel that they haven’t done enough or that they’re not ready. But I tell them that the important thing is to start. Start from where you are, make a commitment, and move forward. It’s a journey. Accept that you are where you are now and just take one step at a time.
The whole process encourages you to gain a new perspective and think about issues you haven’t considered before. It raises new questions. Taking that new perspective itself can help drive change.”
– Cindy Mehallow
Are you Best for PHL?
Register for an upcoming assessment workshop here .
Already attended a workshop?
Get extra support with Best for PHL resources.
If you’ve already participated, take advantage of a free one-hour consultation from Sustrana to review your assessment results and strategize a game plan for improvement. Contact Kim Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.