Green Training in a Blue Economy: The Role of Training in Corporate Sustainability


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The training function has been a key player in many of the green initiatives that have sprouted up in recent years. But with the lingering economic doldrums, many organizations are sharpening their focus on the bottom line. Will the “new normal” undercut the drive for a green future? In this session, we’ll look at a number of examples of sustainability initiatives in a variety of organizations and the role of training in supporting them. Finally, we’ll share ideas for training organizations that want to lead by example with environmentally friendly training practices.

Julie Ogilvie, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, SkillSoft

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Green Training in a Blue Economy: The Role of Training in Corporate Sustainability

  1. 1. Unleashing Learning: From Strategy to Execution Green Training in a Blue Economy: The Role of Training in Corporate Sustainability Julie Ogilvie, VP Corporate Marketing SkillSoft September 29, 2010
  2. 2. Wither Sustainability?
  3. 3. Whither Sustainability? In 2007 sustainability was a growing trend. What’s happened since then? •  Have companies pulled back on their planned investment? •  Has the meaning of sustainability changed? •  What are the drivers and challenges? •  What is the role of training in sustainability initiatives? •  What are you doing at your company? •  Where do you start?
  4. 4. Heated debate! “Any company is better off creating both bottom-line and societal benefits, and creating synergies between them.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter How to Do Well and Do Good MIT Sloan Management Review Fall, 2010 “…the idea that companies have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so is fundamentally flawed.” Aneel Karnani The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility Wall Street Journal August 22, 2010
  5. 5. How has corporate sustainability fared? Sustainability Is Alive and Well •  The vast majority of companies are committed to sustainability. •  92 percent of organizations have a sustainability initiative •  Since the downturn, 24% have decreased support •  However, divergence of opinion between sustainability “experts” and the general business population MIT Sloan Management Review The Business of Sustainability: Findings and Insights from the First Annual Business of Sustainability Survey and the Global Thought leaders’ Research Project, 2009
  6. 6. What is sustainability? It depends on where you sit. “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” A business definition of sustainability… …A proactive approach to ensure the long-term viability and integrity of the business by optimizing resource needs, reducing environmental, energy and social impacts, and managing resources while not compromising profitability. University of Washington, Foster School of Business, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  7. 7. The Triple Bottom Line Economic Environmental Social Sustainability •  Pollution reduction •  Water usage •  Waste reduction •  Paper usage •  Energy reduction •  Carbon reduction •  Local community •  Charitable support •  Programs for disabled or disadvantaged •  Diversity •  Employee work-life •  Transparency •  Learning •  Profitability •  Shareholder return •  Long term growth •  ROI •  Customer satisfactionAndrew Savitz and Karl Weber Copyright John Wiley & Sons, 2006
  8. 8. Many variables affect your view of sustainability Your Industry Your Department Your Location Your Role Your Experience
  9. 9. Case Study Google The world’s #1 employment brand •  Sustainability is a big attractor •  Efficiency of datacenters and facilities •  Renewable energy investments •  Transportation and community programs
  10. 10. Walmart’s approach to sustainability •  Approach grows out of core brand promise •  Efficiencies create environmental and economic benefits •  “Sustainability 360” covers all aspects of the business – operations, associates, customers, communities and suppliers •  Using their influence as world’s largest retailer to create ripple effect throughout supply chain •  Offering lifelong learning opportunities for associates also seen as part of sustainability
  11. 11. Dow Chemicals “Science for a Sustainable World” •  Seen as one of the leaders in sustainability for: •  Aggressive targets •  Comprehensive approach •  Transparency/reporting •  Employee safety/compliance •  Innovation/product development “When we at Dow set our first sustainability goals, we projected that we would spend roughly $1 billion…and we expected ROI of $2-3 billion. To date, return has been in excess of $5 billion.” David E. Kepler Chief Sustainability Officer, Dow Chemical Going Green: How Sustainability Can Work for Your Company ExecBlueprints, 2008 2015 Sustainabity Goals Update, 2Q 2010
  12. 12. What are the benefits? (Be careful what you wish for.)
  13. 13. Sustainability 2.0 Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be an effective component of your talent strategy •  Recognize that a job offers more than benefits and pay! •  CSR as a recruitment tool •  Feeling pride in company leads to higher identity, engagement and productivity •  The “reputation shield” •  Opportunities for personal growth (new skills, improved performance) •  Enhancing work-life balance
  14. 14. Sustainability 2.0 Sustainability drives the development of new values and capabilities that are beneficial to the organization in broad ways •  Going beyond compliance to a culture of accountability •  Systems thinking and long-term outlook •  Teamwork, collaboration (internal and external) •  Transparency •  Lean thinking •  Asking “why?” supports culture of innovation
  15. 15. Where to start? Nike Says: Just Do It!
  16. 16. Roadblocks on the road to sustainability •  Lack of knowledge/understanding of full range of drivers, issues and benefits – in general and by industry •  Lack of common language to discuss internally •  Goals not clearly defined or well-communicated •  Measurement tools lacking What do all of these have in common? (Training is the key.)
  17. 17. Training Can (And Should) Play a Leading Role Supporting a major corporate initiative with high visibility is great for business (yours). •  Change management is what we are experts in •  Creating understanding of the language of sustainability •  Communicating corporate mission, goals •  Help them to understand where they fit in •  Encouraging people to be aware of the impact of their actions •  Re-thinking accepted practices •  Creativity, fun, competition •  Measurement tools and methodologies
  18. 18. Measuring the impact
  19. 19. How Can Training Lead By Example? Go green (without reducing effectiveness) 1.  Conduct your own environmental-impact audit 2.  Educate employees on sustainability issues for your business 3.  Make sustainability a visible part of your training message 4.  Hold virtual meetings and training sessions 5.  “Green” your training facilities 6.  Go paperless when possible 7.  Choose green providers 8.  Eat local 9.  Support Telecommuting 10.  Use online training as part of the mix Can we come up with 10 more?
  20. 20. Tom Peters on the meaning of corporate social responsibility
  21. 21. Unleashing Learning: From Strategy to Execution