By Diana Tereshko - 19th December, 2016
Sustainable Brands was founded in 2006 to help companies and leaders increase their involvement in sustainability initiatives and bring additional value to their organizations. In 2016, the annual Sustainable Brands conference focused on the new metrics for sustainability required by our changing economy.
On the first day of the three-day event, Melissa Marsh participated in the panel “Meaningful Metrics in the Workplace: Using Nature Inspired and Analytic Typologies to Design Organizations.” She was joined by Burke Pemberton, Principal at Stok; Jolene Goldsmith, Director of HR and Operations at Stok; and Nicole Hagerman Miller, Managing Director at Biomimicry 3.8.
Marsh explained how human-centered design is a critical starting place for building an efficient and effective workplace. She cited PLASTARC’s design strategy work with the cloud storage company Box as an example: in conjunction with our PLASTARC engagement, Mozilla encouraged its employees to rearrange their spaces and furniture at will—to treat the office as if it were their home. This orientation of “creating furniture for people and not people for furniture” was endorsed by the other panelists: all agreed that empowering occupants in this way is an immediate hallmark of a good workplace. The panel also recommended that employers recognize “employee metrics” (such as observing how workers arrange objects in the office) as offering as much or more insight into their workplace’s effectiveness as “smart building metrics” (such as automatic thermostat moderation).
Across the rest of the three day event, a variety of other speakers from different industries spoke about new metrics, showing how the sustainable practices they’re employing are good for both their companies’ productivity and bottom line.
Sustainability experts at iCompli Sustainability explained that SASB (the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) is being adopted by more and more organizations after Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg sent a letter to Fortune 500 companies encouraging them to take advantage of SASB’s offerings to improve their sustainable standards.
Rob Michalak, Global Director of Social Mission with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, described how the company has been including their sustainable practices in their financial statements, and how this has ultimately helped to improve their cost savings.
Claire Lambert, Manager of the Fuel Efficiency Programme at Virgin Atlantic, explained how the airline initiated a sustainable fuel program with their pilots: it involved an experiment that divided pilots into four groups and gave each one different information about how to expend their fuel during a given flight. One of the groups was also made aware that for each mile’s worth of gas they could save on a trip, the company would donate an equivalent amount of money to charity. The pilots who had this information were found to be more engaged and eager to help conserve fuel, illustrating that employees can be effectively motivated around a positive cause or purpose.
Presentations over the three days touched on the importance of collecting data from, physical properties like the workplace, customers and from employees. By gathering these types of information, companies are able to better understand levels of satisfaction, engagement, and effectiveness. The new data collection methods and technologies becoming increasingly available to organizations today are ushering in many new opportunities to identify how they can best accommodate people from customers choosing Sustainable Brands to employees in the workplace doing great work.