On Tuesday, 35 members of NAEM’s Lake Michigan chapter met at the University Club of Chicago for a panel discussion on what sustainability means to different organizations, how managers are developing sustainability programs and which key performance indicators (KPI’s) are most material.
The panelists were Michelle Redfield, Director of Environment and Process Improvement for Scheider Electric; Bill Tokash, Sustainability Director for Invensys and Rob Currie, Director of Environment, Health and Safety for Baxter Healthcare. Here are a few of the key insights from the discussion, which was facilitated by Alexandra Yeung, Associate at Antea Group:
- While both Schneider and Baxter define sustainability from the triple bottom line perspective, Invensys is approaching sustainability from an efficiency and safety perspective (efficient and safe solutions will deliver efficient and safe operations for the customer).
- Sustainability is not just about providing sustainable products and services, but also about providing value. The panelists said their companies are starting to develop sustainability goals around delivering value to the “bottom of the pyramid”, eg. Energy to developing countries, healthcare supplies to disenfranchised communities, etc.
- Regarding collection of KPI’s, panelist responses ranged from keeping if very simple (energy, water, waste, safety) to collecting thousands of data points through an automated data management system. The level of detail depends on maturity of sustainability program and stakeholder expectations.
- While reporting is moving in the direction of full-disclosure, supply chain information is still a challenge. Most suppliers are not publicly traded companies, and are not prepared to respond to sustainability questions.
- Sustainability will continue to move outside company walls by: looking at megatrends, benchmarking against other industries, partnering with customers and increasing supply chain integration.
The event also included a presentation by NAEM Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt about the results of the association’s 2012 EHS & Sustainability Staffing and Structure Report. She explained that while the EHS function continues to own compliance-related activities, EHS managers are also leading many areas of sustainability as well. These include setting sustainability goals, carbon management and sustainability strategy. The EHS function also commonly collaborates with other functions around sustainability initiatives, most commonly on programs such as employee engagement, supply chain engagement, building energy efficiency and social responsibility.
How is your company staffing its sustainability activities? What direction are your programs taking?