What does sustainability mean in the business context and how do you apply it in the workplace? Marsha Willard, the CEO of AXIS, and the co-author of The Business Guide to Sustainability and The Step by Step Guide to Sustainability Planning, shares her experience in working with small to medium sized companies to make sense of sustainability.
She has discovered that while the first steps often involve eco-efficiencies, the companies that make sustainability stick are those who desire to not just be less bad, but want to be truly sustainable. These companies are not afraid to ask the really hard questions and work towards redesigning established processes. Many companies are working with systems or policies written many years ago that fit the needs at the time but needs rewriting to fit today’s context. For example, government purchasing criteria used to be based on lowest upfront cost; a more sustainable metric is lowest lifetime cost.
While redesigning established sourcing processes, many companies may leverage sustainability certifications such as LEED and FSC. Turns out, very few of these certifications meet true sustainability metrics but they are this way by design. The organizations who created them explains that they wanted to create standards that 20% of existing providers can meet to inspire those 20% to use it as a market advantage. The certifiers then slowly raise the bar.
In addition to consulting, Willard is also the executive director of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. ISSP provides networking and education opportunities for sustainability practitioners. If you have the passion to turn your workplace into a sustainable one, there are many resources and support networks available. Don’t delay and apply your passion today!
Connie Kwan is a GreenTech Marketing professional based in Silicon Valley, CA. She is pursuing an MBA in Sustainability at Presidio Graduate School and blogs about sustainability and business at Sustainable Thinking: Applied. Follow her on Twitter @ConnieMKwan.