All Articles Leadership Inspiration How employees steered 5 companies to sustainability success

How employees steered 5 companies to sustainability success

2 min read


This post is by SmartBrief Editor Rebecca Pollack Scherr.

Employees are the No. 1 driver of change when it comes to sustainability, said Marc Gunther, a journalist who focuses on business and sustainability. Gunther closed the Sustainability Summit, hosted last week by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Arlington, Va., with a to-do list to energize attendees. Here is Gunther’s list and a few of the stories that show how employees can contribute to companies’ sustainability efforts:

  • Find a project and create a business plan. The eBay Innovation Expo is an internal event that encourages employees to come up with ideas to benefit the company’s buyers and sellers. This year’s winning idea went to the eBay Box, a reusable box. Learn more about eBay’s sustainability initiatives.
  • Identify a champion. Bryan Jacob is the energy and climate-protection manager for Coca-Cola. His goal: To reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from the 10 million vending machines and coolers that make up Coke’s global bottling system.
  • Gather information. While Arlin Wasserman of Sodexo, Aron Cramer of BSR and Eric Ostern of Unilever were presenting at the Summit, SmartBrief on Leadership popped into my inbox, highlighting Unilever’s latest green pledge. CEO Paul Polman’s strategy has been described as risky, but the payoff could be gigantic. Take away: Find out what the competition is doing and strategize.
  • March forth. Gunther said General Electric’s sustainability efforts are some of the most impressive. In 2005, G.E. increased its research and development in clean technologies and subsequently majorly increased its revenue.
  • Achieve success. The biggest turnaround story, according to Gunther, is Wal-Mart, which has promised to be supplied 100% by renewable energy, to create zero waste and to sell sustainable products. Read more about Wal-Mart’s latest announcement: to preserve an additional 218,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

How has your company achieved sustainability success?