Today’s large corporations have the size and power to literally move mountains. But with hundreds of thousands of employees spread over dozens of countries and business units, agreeing on where that mountain should be moved to is a monumental challenge.
In this interview, Alison Taylor, the VP of Sustainability – Americas at Siemens, discusses the techniques Siemens uses to engage and leverage all the stakeholders needed to drive towards a more sustainable future. With 145,000 employees worldwide and 60,000 in the US, getting everyone to think in the same way about sustainability is a big challenge. While almost everyone in the corporation has the desire to do the right thing, harnessing all the positive energy into a unified strategic plan involves education and thoughtful communication that must start from the very top.
Taylor started by organizing a council of business leaders chaired by Siemens’ US CEO and established quarterly meetings for the group. Council members are responsible for implementing action items that range from making facilities more green and energy efficient to forming strategic alliances with communities and suppliers.
One of the council’s main tasks was to engage line-employees directly through a variety of tools, including an internal blog, an externally featured sustainability website, and the company’s sustainability report. While the report is written for an external audience, it also serves as a great way for employees to learn about CSR initiatives in other departments.
In addition to encouraging employee participation in company sustainability projects, Siemens actively sought out employee input through the sponsorship of an internal contest seeking the best ideas for sustainable living. The overwhelming response from the contest resulted in a problem that Siemens was glad to have: how to prioritize implementation of all the great ideas.
What techniques do you use to engage your leadership and employees to move towards a sustainable future?
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.