Wednesday, January 31, 2007

EVENT: Webinar - Greening Your IT

Information technology is an essential component of every organization’s infrastructure, but also an area with significant environmental impacts. E-waste in landfills, toxic chemicals from computers and peripherals, rising energy costs and climate change emissions—these are all problems you can’t afford to ignore. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate your impacts.

SSC is pleased to offer Greening Your IT, an interactive "webinar" focusing on simple and cost-effective ways to make your organization's information technology systems as eco-friendly as possible. In this 60-minute presentation, you'll learn:

¨ The key environmental impacts associated with information technology.

¨ Specific ways to minimize your IT impacts through green purchasing programs and energy saving measures.

¨ Resources to help you make smart IT decisions that minimize your environmental impact, save you money, and help brand your organization as a good corporate citizen.

Strategic Sustainability Consulting is pleased to have Michelle Bishop as this webinar's guest speaker. As head of Bishop Communications, Michelle has spent fourteen years providing communications, training, and technical services to customers in the not-for-profit, government, and corporate business sectors. She’s also an expert in the environmental impacts of the IT industry and can speak to the variety of options in eco-friendly IT innovation.

Cost: $60

Register at: (click "Events")

Space is limited to ensure an interactive experience where you can ask questions and get real answers, so reserve your space today. Once you've signed up, you'll receive an email with log-in and call-in details.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Why We Love: Interface, Inc.

This is the first in a series of postings under the category "why why love". It gives us the opportunity to highlight companies that have gone beyond basic corporate social responsibility expectations and are embracing the idea that sustainability can create business value. Let us know if there's a company we should include!

Interface Inc. is a leader in creation and marketing of modular carpet, broadloom carpet, panel fabrics, and upholstery fabrics targeted for office environments. Based out of LaGrange, GA, Interface began in 1974 and now has grown into the leader in sales of modular carpet. With manufacturing plants and several offices all over the world, Interface is a powerful company with a strong hold on their market.

So why do we love them? Because Interface has announced its Mission Zero plan, to eliminate any negative impacts their company has on the environment by 2020. Interface states that they wish:

To be the first company that, by it’s deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, products, place, and profits by 2020—and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence.

Interface has an elaborate action plan for how to accomplish their goals. One of the steps they are taking is to use renewable materials for all their products. They also plan to work to re-claim customers' used products.

Interface is taking a pro-active view of their eco-future, find out more and read their sustainability report at Interface, Inc.

Friday, January 26, 2007

VIEWS: Ethical Supply Chain Trends for 2007

VIEWS: Ethical Supply Chain Trends for 2007

The following predictions come from an article in the Responsible Sourcing blog, and while it didn't come straight from my own brain I can't agree more with their forecast.

Trend One: Supplier Ownership

More and more companies are looking to engage suppliers in creating sustainable improvements that will positively impact the lives and conditions of workers. To do so, brands and buyers are promoting the adoption of management systems that will help suppliers run more efficiently as well as manage social compliance issues in a planned and organized manner.

Trend Two: Collaboration

Brand and retailer initiatives continue to emerge with the goal of fostering collaborative approaches to responsible sourcing. Following in the footsteps of the Fair Labor Association and the Ethical Trading Initiative, there is also the Business Social Compliance Initiative in Europe, l'Initiative Clause Sociale in France, and CSC9000t in China. Some initiatives focus around sharing assessment results and working together to promote improvements in like-supply chains…[and] more and more stakeholder initiatives are emerging that are sector-specific, including the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct program, the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices, and the Framework for Responsible Mining.

Trend Three: Convergence

As brands and retailers increasingly sign-up to these initiatives, we can hope for a converging of some of the many standards and programs into a few. The ETI, once thought of as a UK-based initiative, now boasts an increasing number of non-UK members, including the U.S.-based Gap, Inc. Many members of the ETI have chosen to adopt the ETI Base Code as the code of conduct used in their supply chains, in order to use an existing multi-stakeholder code that promotes the use of a common industry code. In fact, the Body Shop forewent their previously developed code to adopt the ETI code and promote the concept of a universal code of conduct. The Gap recently announced their intention to do the same.

The article has more examples (mostly from a UK perspective), and I highly recommend the whole thing. And stay tuned for another entry later this week on SSC's approach to supply chain management, where we'll explore how small and medium-size organizations can implement sustainable supply chains.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

RESOURCES: Making an Employee Handbook

One of the biggest challenges facing small business is finding the balance between flexibility and formality—between innovation and stability. When is it okay to fly by the seat of your pants, and when are rules and guidelines necessary for success?

While each situation is different, one area is clear: when it comes to managing a successful workplace, an employee handbook is essential. And this article from Inc. will show you how to go about constructing a solid handbook that benefits you and your employees.

An employee handbook should explain more than rules. It offers you the opportunity to set expectations and communicate your company's mission and culture as well. What is an employee handbook? Is it the rules you expect your employees to follow? Is it a marketing piece designed for future employees? Or does it provide a roadmap to make business decisions that impact employees? It all depends on the message you want to deliver.

What should you include? The article suggests the following outline to get you started:

-- Introduction

-- Employment Policies

-- Employee Conduct

-- Compensation

-- Benefits

-- Leaves of Absence

-- Health and Safety

-- Employment Separation

Read the article for more information, and get started on your employee handbook today!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

VIEWS: Finding Work-Life Balance

I've been thinking a lot about work-life balance lately, both in a personal and professional sense. There's just something about the start of the New Year that makes me take stock. This year in particular, I'm inspired to do more at work (SSC's new "webinars" are my latest endeavor) AND take more time for myself (I've made a commitment with a good friend to visit a museum once a month). But I'm finding that there's rarely enough time to do both.

I'm not the only one struggling with work-life balance, but at least it looks like more workers are getting the chance to take an active role in the endeavor. According to a recent Inc article:

More professionals are finding a way to achieve work-life balance without giving up pay…Seeking a better work-life balance, more and more mid- and senior-level professional women are successfully negotiating flexible work schedules without cutting back income.

And it looks like women are particularly benefiting from flexible work arrangements:

Of more than 400 female workers polled nationwide, more than 90 percent said they have opted for flexible work arrangements at some point in their careers, including telecommuting, flexible hours, or simply limiting tasks that require working evenings or travel. A full 88 percent said flexible work arrangements allowed them to continue working full-time despite managing complex personal lives.

It's not just low-paying work, either. About 85 percent of the survey's respondents were responsible for at least half of their household incomes.

But it's not all sunbeams and roses for women seeking work-life balance. According to a recent Catalyst survey:

…while approximately one in four lawyers in law firms report having used a flexible work arrangement, the majority of those surveyed see it as a career limiting move. More than half of the female lawyers surveyed believed that their use of flexible work arrangements limited their professional development and made them appear less committed to their firms, versus 21 per cent of men who used the same arrangements.

What's the message? While we're increasingly seeing employers offer flexible working arrangements—and employees are jumping to take advantage of them, the long-term career impacts are still in doubt. But that doesn't mean it's not worth exploring now!

…more than 60 percent of the survey's respondents said they were more loyal to employers offering flexible schedules, telecommutes, and other options.

Friday, January 19, 2007

NEWS: Does Diversity Make a Difference?

You bet it does—and the research now proves it.

According to a new report out of the University of Illinois there is a positive correlation between employee diversity and business success. In fact, as diversity increases, so does businesses’ customers, share of market, and profitability.

Another study out of Tufts University suggests that not only do minorities bring different perspectives to a situation but they also seem to cause new thinking among others. Using two different models (mock juries and SAT-style questions), the study revealed that diversity causes groups to think differently, and were more likely to examine a problem from multiple perspectives.

Because the study examines group decision-making in a realistic setting, the findings have potential implications for a variety of contexts--from the classroom to the boardroom, or wherever a premium is placed on fact-finding and reaching a good decision," says Samuel R. Sommers, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University. "Diverse groups show a number of advantages and benefits when it comes to this type of decision making.

We've given you the highlights. Now read the whole report at the Washington Post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

RESOURCES: Taxes for "Green" Business

It's that time of year again, when the W-2s start arriving in the mail and your accountant's phone starts ringing off the hook. As your business begins the time-consuming and mind-scrambling task of annual taxes, don't forget that it pays to be green!

Starting this year, commercial buildings meeting certain energy-savings targets can by deducted by as much as $1.80 per square foot of your taxes. Information on getting certified for the new deduction is available here.

Also starting this year, businesses the use hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles for commercial purposes can qualify for a tax credit.

Not too shabby!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

EVENT: Webinar Series - Becoming a Sustainability Champion in Your Organization

You care about the environment, social justice, and human rights. You recycle at home, make sure the lights are switched off at night, and take public transportation whenever possible. You avoid buying products from companies that contract from sweatshops, and even volunteer your time with a charity or two.

But what about at work?

You might not be in a position to dramatically change the direction of your organization, but you can have a positive influence on the environmental and social impact of day-to-day operations. That's where Strategic Sustainability Consulting can help. In this 4-week webinar series, you'll discover how to become a "sustainability champion" in your organization:

-- Learn how to bring your personal values to the office in a positive, energizing way
-- Convince your bosses that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is worthy of their time
-- Determine the most important and strategic areas for an initial CSR program
-- Implement a tracking program that truly measures progress towards sustainability

Each session is a 90-minute interactive webinar, where you'll gain a basic understanding of the topic, hear from an expert in the field, and have an opportunity to ask questions. These webinars are perfect for recent graduates and young professionals�those employees who have the passion, but not the decision-making authority, to tackle the challenges of organizational sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Week 1: Bringing Your Values to Work

Don't feel frustrated by the disparity between your personal values and your day-to-day workload! Very few of us actually have jobs where we're directly making the world a better place, but that doesn't mean you can't bring a spirit of positive social change to work with you each morning. We'll help you find a balance between your daily to-do list and the larger passions that motivate you to get up each morning.

Guest Speaker: Mary Guarino, Ph.D. is owner of StellarSelf, a personal coaching and wellness consulting practice focused on helping organizations that are dedicated to their employees’ well being, and helping individuals create more balanced, fulfilling lives. Dr. Guarino offers her unique training and experience, which allows her to bring a rich perspective on health and wellness to individuals and organizations. In addition to her coaching training, she holds a doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University, has conducted research in the areas of psychology and health, and has several years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience.

Dr. Guarino is a member of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, International Coach Federation, International Stress Management Association, and Women Presidents’ Educational Organization.

Week 2: Convincing Management That CSR Is Important

Unless you're in the top tier of management, it's unlikely that you can unilaterally introduce policies and programs to improve your organization's social and environmental impact. But by convincing your bosses that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a good business investment, you can get the support you need to make some real changes. We'll show you how to make the business case for corporate social responsibility to your top management.

Week 3: Building a CSR Program

Once you've gotten management buy-in, the next step is to start developing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. In this session, you'll learn how to conduct a "sustainability audit" to determine your organization's key social and environmental impacts, simple ways to start introducing CSR policies and programs, and low-cost strategies to energize your colleagues.

Week 4: Tracking and Communicating Progress

A key part of any successful CSR program (no matter how small) is measuring and communicating your progress. Whether you're measuring pounds of recycled paper or hours of employee volunteerism, having hard data can make the difference between getting additional support (and recognition) and a sputtering enthusiasm. We'll show you how to set up your goals for maximum effect, what metrics to track, and easy ways to create internal and external CSR communications that inspire and energize stakeholders.

Date: Ongoing, check our events page for details

Time: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST

Cost: $250

(You can also register for the entire series, or each session individually on the SSC events page.)

Space is limited to 20 people to ensure an interactive experience where you can ask questions and get real answers, so reserve your space today. Once you've signed up, you'll receive an email with log-in and call-in details.

* Ask your company if they will pay for these classes. It's part of your professional development, and by educating you on this important topic they will be helping themselves become more responsible corporate citizens!

EVENT: Webinar - CSR 101 for Microenterprise

Today, nearly all big businesses have a public commitment to "corporate social responsibility" (CSR). Wal-Mart has announced sweeping environmental goals related to energy efficiency and "green" packaging. Hewlett Packard is opening training centers for small business owners to learn how to grow their businesses with technology. And Hain Celestial Group has started an initiative to better understand consumer's community priorities and to develop "social purpose" programs.

Even though the business value of CSR has been well established, it's often overlooked by small and medium-size organizations, and by microenterprise in particular. That's a grave mistake, because a strong CSR program can help you cut costs, enhance brand awareness, improve customer loyalty, and set your business apart from larger competitors.

That's why we're pleased to offer Corporate Social Responsibility 101 for Microenterprise, an interactive webinar about the opportunities and challenges associated with social and environmental responsibility for microbusiness. In an hour-and-a-half, we'll cover:

-- A general overview of corporate social responsibility, and why it's valuable to microenterprise.

-- Key CSR issues, including energy efficiency, labor standards, product safety, and corporate governance.

-- Simple and low-cost ways to demonstrate your commitment to "good business ethics".

-- Metrics to track your progress, and how to measure the value of your CSR programs.

-- Ways to publicize your efforts to maximize the financial rewards of corporate citizenship.

Sign-Up on Our Website: (click Events)

Space is limited to ensure an interactive experience where you can ask questions and get real answers, so reserve your space today. Once you've signed up, you'll receive an email with log-in and call-in details.

EVENT: Webinar - Sustainability Consulting 101

Are you interested in using your skills to make the world a better place? Are you passionate about the environment, social justice, and accountability—but not currently in a job where those values are promoted? Whether you're a recent graduate in search of that first job, or an experienced professional looking to switch careers, the growing world of sustainability consulting has something to offer. But it can also be a confusing, ultra-competitive industry, and nearly impossible to break into without prior experience.

That's why we're pleased to offer Sustainability Consulting 101, an interactive webinar about the "ins and outs" of—what else?—sustainability consulting. You'll learn:

- General trends in sustainability consulting, including the differences between sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and corporate citizenship consultancies.

- The philosophical and practical differences between 1) huge consulting firms with sustainability divisions, 2) boutique consulting firms, 3) NGOs that provide consulting services, and 4) freelance consulting opportunities.

- How to position your past experience to get your foot in the door with the type of organization best suited to your background and career plans.

- Resources you need to know in order to stay up-to-date with emerging sustainability issues.

- How to get involved in the SSC Consultant Network.

The webinar is hosted by Jennifer K. Woofter, president of Strategic Sustainability Consulting (SSC). In the past two years, SSC has grown from a 1-person start-up to a consultancy drawing on more than 50 sustainability experts.

Cost: $50

Sign-Up on Our Website: (click Events)

Space is limited to ensure an interactive experience where you can ask questions and get real answers, so reserve your space today. Once you've signed up, you'll receive an email with log-in and call-in details.

If you have any questions, feel free to email SSC at or call us at 202-470-3248. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

VIEWS: The Biggest Trends In Small Business

A colleague recently pointed me to an article in USA Today on the Top 10 Trends Shaping Small Business in 2007. Of particular interest to me were #4 and #1. Read on to find out why…

No. 4. Green revolution

We seem to have reached a critical tipping point, and there's no turning back: green is good. And as nearly every large company now has a sustainability or corporate social responsibility program in place, smaller companies are starting to see the value in environmental excellence too.

Whether it's GM unveiling an all-new electric concept car last week, or Whole Foods markets becoming nearly ubiquitous, or the rise of sustainable development, there is no doubt that there is an increased desire on the part of businesses and consumers alike to go green. For the small business owner, the green revolution presents opportunities: It can mean helping other companies be more environmentally-friendly, or catering to the desires of your customers to be more organic, or offering green products, and so on, but whatever the case, this may be a chance to do good and do well at the same time.

At Strategic Sustainability Consulting, we're delighted to be on the front crest of the green revolution for small business. Not only are we on the receiving end (just check out our own environmental initiatives), but we're also uniquely positioned to help other small companies green their own operations.

No. 1: Global warming may put you out of business

It's no surprise to us that global warming is happening…and it seems like most Americans now "get it". But that doesn't mean we're prepared.

According to a report from the British government written by former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern ("The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change"), "Climate change could devastate the global economy on a scale of the two world wars and the depression of the 1930s" (, October 30, 2006.)

Yup—it's true. The scary truth is that we are facing a catastrophe that's moving towards us like a monster in slow motion. We can see it coming, and yet are doing very little to stop it. At Strategic Sustainability Consulting, one of the most important services we provide is consultations on climate change management. So if your organization doesn't have a plan for how to deal with the realities of global warming, contact me at for a free consultation.

Monday, January 01, 2007

RESOURCES: Keeping Your Employees Happy

A new Hudson Survey reveals that the age of your workforce has an impact on how to keep your employees happy. The results? Younger workers want more feedback from managers, greater access to management, and social interaction with their bosses than their older counterparts. They are also (not surprisingly!) more likely to appreciate email and instant message communications.

So as you start 2007, think about how your management style appeals to different generations, and how you might improve employee-management relations. And for a quick employee morale boost, check out this article on low-cost perks that will make your staff thrilled to call you their boss:

While large companies have long touted major corporate perks, including tuition payments and daycare on site, many smaller businesses are now providing plenty of attractive low-cost perks that are having some very positive results. If you're thinking of doing something more than giving your "Employee of the Month" the best parking space, here are 20 possibilities for you to consider.

Our favorites?

Work from home days—not only do they allow employees to catch up on work in a slipper-friendly atmosphere, it's also a great way to eliminate the environmental impacts of a long commute.

Community service days—make a difference in the local community and build a sense of teamwork.

Yoga classes—get centered, improve health and wellness, reduce stress…and get your butt out of that desk chair!