Sustainability Innovation Leaders - People
For this examination of sustainability innovation leaders, we are going to examine three companies and how they can help people through social enterprise and focus on People. Think of this as an examination of three strata of People as opposed to three examples:
- Greyston Bakery - We begin by looking at People on the local scale, and how a company can actively transform a community and the lives of those within it.
- Patagonia - We continue by looking at Patagonia's approach to supply chain sustainability and how they can affect workers worldwide through sustainable sourcing and supply chain innovation.
- CyArk and Iron Mountain - We close by looking at how a unique partnership has the potential to play a role in world history for generations to come. It's also an example of how every company can have a unique slant on sustainability and how it ties to their core business.
Please watch the following 6:55 video.
Video: Greyston Bakery | Ben & Jerry's (6:55)
Much of the insight of the very creation of Greyston is owed to its founder Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, a former McDonnell Douglas aeronautics engineer turned Buddhist priest and Zen master. The original Greyston insight from Roshi Glassman was that a profitable venture could be used to fund a non-profit for social good, in this case, to provide housing to the homeless.
To take on their mission to change lives as both an input and an output of the Greyston process, the organization takes a very practical approach: making the best brownies and cakes possible, efficiently and profitably.
Proof of their approach of conventional means to unconventional ends? Their longtime CEO, Julius Walls Jr.: "Most of our customers had zero awareness of what Greyston was. They just thought we made great cakes" (Stewart, 2003).
GRI Planet Aspects
- Programs for skills management and lifelong learning (G4-LA10)
- Breakdown of employees per employee category according to gender, age group, minority group membership, and other indicators of diversity (G4-LA12)
- Percentage of operations with implemented local community engagement (G4-SO1)
As elegantly stated in their materials, "We don't hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people."
From "Our History": "In the 1980s, our founder, Roshi Bernie Glassman recognized that employment is the gateway out of poverty and towards self-sufficiency. In 1982, he opened Greyston Bakery, giving the hard-to-employ a new chance at life. His open-door policy offered employment opportunities regardless of education, work history or past social barriers, such as incarceration, homelessness or drug use."
There are many innovations at play, but one is found in the combination of what may be seen as two pretty common enterprises: a 501(c)3 for economic renewal and a profitable bakery. The foundational innovation of Greyston lies in the coupling of those two enterprises and the radically simple approach to hiring: show up, get a number, and you get a job when your number is called. No questions asked.
Rich, authentic storytelling, as we can see from the video. Although Greyston appears to be a bit more of an ingredient brand at this point (Ben & Jerry's, private labeled cakes at restaurants), it would appear that their story may get more play publicly as their brownies and cookies are now carried through Whole Foods.
They do a nice job at capturing some of the basic metrics of their entrepreneurial and social successes thus far: 30,000 lbs of brownies per day, 300 units of affordable housing created and funded, 2,200 Yonkers community members served, 500,000 Whole Planet brownies sold through Whole Foods (with 1% of sales going to the Whole Planet Foundation for microcredit loans), community training programs, gardens, clinics, free daycare, and more.
They have a brief, but very impactful and well-structured 2014 Annual Report.
Interestingly, in service of capturing the entire story of achievement, they cite savings realized by both the County and local government because of Greyston initiatives.
Greyston's elegance and effectiveness is in its simplicity. In essence, it is a charitable enterprise which does not rely on your charity in purchasing its products, as it asks nothing but for its baked goods to be considered against all others.
It is no wonder Greyston's founder is a Zen master.
Patagonia (Footprint Chronicles)
Please watch the following 1:40 video.
Video: The New Footprint Chronicles - Patagonia's supply chain examined (1:40)
Elevating the sustainable supply chain, telling stories around it, and making it a core differentiator.
To continue to extend Patagonia leadership in sustainable sourcing and practices, a core tenet of their brand. There is also an excellent opportunity to help justify the (sometimes significant) Patagonia price premium on every product page.
GRI Planet Aspects
- Percentage of new suppliers that were screened using labor practices criteria (G4-LA14)
- Total number and percentage of operations that have been subject to human rights reviews of impact assessments (G4-HR9)
Patagonia Mission Statement: "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
In speaking specifically on The Footprint Chronicles, We promote fair labor practices, safe working conditions and environmental responsibility throughout the Patagonia supply chain." Also, from the video, "We wanted to make it easy and engaging for customers to learn about our products, and more about the suppliers that make them for us."
If you nest or link those three statements, it is possible to connect the tangible, customer-facing cues all the way up to the highest-level Mission of the company. This is essential to connect tactics to strategies, and we will be exploring and mapping how we can make this happen two lessons from now.
I'd like to make something amply clear here, and a theme we will revisit throughout the course: "innovation" does not always mean that you have to create Cold Fusion or cars that run on water. Innovation can be, at times, as simple as having the willpower and vision as a company to do something others do not, can not, or will not. This program is a perfect example. Many companies with solid sustainability programs might rate or refer to suppliers anonymously, far fewer will mention suppliers by name... and then there's Patagonia, calling out the specific suppliers who are used to create the product right there on every product page.
Revealed in layers. Patagonia reveals the core information about the suppliers at the first level, on the product page, with a few notes about what the supplier does and why Patagonia partners with them. At the second level is The Footprint Chronicles Map, where they list all of their suppliers with a bit more information and talk about initiatives and standards used for suppliers. Finally, one could read their sustainability report (of sorts), Environmental and Social Initiatives, for the fully granular data and content.
This mechanism is effective because it does not foist massive amounts of supplier information on the valuable real estate of the product page. It instead tells a brief story, and links to a microsite/landing page delving into the topic and Patagonia's approaches.
Patagonia addresses supply chain successes fully in its CSR, but the achievement specifically for this program is having the willpower and vision to add it to the product page. That, in and of itself, is an achievement.
Much like Greyston's Zen-like simplicity, Patagonia's structure for this initiative is as transparent and honest as it is simple: if a supplier is used for this garment, they are listed. They do not limit it to a special subset of products, or a sub-branded 'Patagonia Platinum': it's on every shirt, every pack, every wetsuit.
It's another fantastic, yet subtle mechanism to reinforce why you pay more for Patagonia. In a world of seemingly infinite options, and with REI, EMS, Arcteryx, and other competitors a click away, constant reinforcement of brand and message is essential.
CyArk and Iron Mountain (Partnership to document world heritage sites)
Please watch the following 5:14 video.
Video: Cyark Technology & Iron Mountain (5:14)
Transcript of Cyark Technology & Iron Mountain
BEN KACYRA (CYARK FOUNDER): Cyark's mission is to digitally preserve world heritage sites.
ELIZABETH LEE (DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS): We use the latest technologies to go and capture sites in 3D to create this robust digital archive.
JAIME PURSUIT (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER): We're preserving our present and our past so that the future will have the opportunity to look back in time and understand what the world was like.
ELIZABETH LEE: So many of the sites are at risk: natural disasters, floods, fires, acts of human aggression. When there's a fire in your home, one the first things that you're gonna grab is the family photographs. These sites are really the family photographs of human history. We've actually had an instance where we captured data from a particular site and then just a year later it was lost to fire. That digital record that we hold in our archive is what remains. We might need to take a raw data set and create a drawing for a conservator working on a wall in Babylon, Iraq or develop a lesson plan for 4th grade teachers. Making sure that we have good, reliable technology is integral. Previously we've had a fairly manual solution of offsite storage and hard drives.
JUSTIN BARTON (TECHNICAL SERVICES MANAGER): Hard drives fail and there are still issues with the cost of those. If they're failing, we have to have multiple extra backups. Our current system was becoming a bit cumbersome.
TOM GREAVES (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR): We've made a commitment to the world, not only to capture this data but to archive in perpetuity. We're creating 2 or 3 terabytes per project these days. We needed a solution scalable. We needed a partner to help us do this.
JUSTIN BARTON: Iron Mountain, through its network, came back to us with the solution that was both affordable, robust and had that longevity.
ELIZABETH LEE: They've pulled together the other experts in the market to give us the kind of solution that we need.
SCOTT LEE (PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR): Crossroads provided us with a Strong Box and that allows an interface with the tape drive systems. The Strong Box has this cool capability of being able to write the data to two separate systems. The strongbox acts as an interface to the tape system which is the spectra logic system. It has a robotic arm, it moves around, it grabs tapes, sticks them in drives. The future in 5 years is to have 1 petabyte and 2 petabyte. We can expand almost infinitely. We can keep adding future boxes, keep going down the line.
ELIZABETH LEE: One of the compelling things with this solution was the ability to move data off of the spinning disks.
JUSTIN BARTON: We're taking the technology which is tape drives and making them a little bit more modern.
SCOTT LEE: With the system it basically will make the LTFS system look like a hard drive to us.
JUSTIN BARTON: CD's and DVD's have a less than 10 year life expectancy. These tapes will last 30 years.
SCOTT LEE: So we'll have an Iron Mountain delivery truck come here once a week, grab our tapes and we'll have a redundant backup.
BARBARA KACYRA (CYARK FOUNDER): We also keep a gold standard copy that is held in the vault there well underground. We've got a good secure place for the archive to reside.
ELIZABETH LEE: We can switch away from this manual system and offload that to partners like Strong Box and Iron Mountain who are really the experts. Cyark's captured about 70 sites worldwide to date, such as Tikal in Guatemala, Mount Rushmore in the United States, Pompeii in Italy and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
SCOTT LEE: We have currently about 50 terabytes of data in our archive. We can scale up very quickly.
ELIZABETH LEE: The need for an expanding archive is very real for us.
JUSTIN BARTON: Once we've collected that data and put all that effort into it, we need to make sure that that data can last.
JAIME PURSUIT: We can share with people around the world and have them help contribute to the conservation an educational components what we're doing.
TOM GREAVES: We're a small organization and we need to focus on capturing world heritage sites.
SCOTT LEE: We're a pretty small operation with big aspirations.
ELIZABETH LEE: Knowing that it's gonna be around for the future we have time to think about creating new content from that data: Virtual tours at these sites, or 3D fly throughs, or mobile apps.
SCOTT LEE: Iron Mountain, Crossroads, and Spectra all of them have come together to really help us out with this solution.
JUSTIN BARTON: We have the best top-tier solution in terms of longevity of the data, accessibility to the data and we have a 2 petabyte server under construction. I mean, not very many people get to say that.
JAIME PURSUIT: Trusting our data with Strong Box, Iron Mountain, and Spectra Logic is something that we don't take lightly.
SCOTT LEE: The data we capture is truly irreplaceable data. If you lose your history you kinda lose everything behind you.
JAIME PURSUIT: If the data's not secure then I don't know why we're doing what we're doing.
JUSTIN BARTON: It's a very big mission.
ELIZABETH LEE: There's a lot of pressure on Cyark to make sure we go and get as many of these places as possible.
TOM GREAVES: We're free to do what we're good at and we also all sleep well knowing that our data is protected.
SCOTT LEE: If you don't have reliable solution to keep that data stored, it's a little rough to sleep at night.
JUSTIN BARTON: I definitely sleep better at night.
JAIME PURSUIT: We can all sleep at night.
ELIZABETH LEE: I do sleep better now that this thing is in place.
Also, a great tour of the Iron Mountain facility, and some of the priceless archives it holds.
For a company that archives important documents, objects, and data in an ultra-secure mine (Iron Mountain), there could be an excellent opportunity to partner with a non-profit working to capture something which can not be physically archived: digital versions of some of the world's most important archeological and cultural sites.
To do a service to humankind while doing a service to your brand.
GRI Planet Aspects
Percentage of operations with implemented local community engagement (G4-SO1) [One could consider this far more ranging than local community].
From the Iron Mountain partnership page:
Ensure the data used to document world heritage sites remains safe, secure and available for future generations.
Innovative technologies and services from Iron Mountain, Crossroads Systems and Spectra Logic.
Much of the innovation is in the partnership and the fact that the various providers partnered to supply CyArk with a solution to fit their unique needs.
There are certainly stories to be told, and many are indeed told effectively. It does feel that given the importance of the CyArk project, some of the materials on this partnership initiative spend far too much time talking about the companies as opposed to the importance of the project, etc. This may simply be a function of the audience, but it feels there is more opportunity to tell stories.
That said, the core story of CyArk and Iron Mountain can be that of a very compelling partnership, and one tightly tied to the core missions of both companies.
Perhaps a little weak. It appears that after the initial partnership blast, CyArk has recorded all of the achievement and progress toward its goals on its pages, but Iron Mountain has stepped back a bit. This may simply be the tempo of business moving onto new messages, but given the potential for telling rich stories about their sustainability partnership and core business, perhaps Iron Mountain is leaving some value behind.
This is a story-driven initiative program, and while captured in Iron Mountain's sustainability report, it isn't necessarily highly structured. Iron Mountain mentions a paragraph on CyArk's mission, and that is essentially the extent of it. This is Iron Mountain's first CSR, so they absolutely had other concerns on which to concentrate, but like the other facets, it would seem that there is additional value to be taken away from what they have already done with the program.
It's hard to overestimate the halo value of Iron Mountain being able to say that they 'are entrusted with the digitized versions of the world's most important sites... for posterity.' Might make you a touch more comfortable sending them your legal documents to archive for seven years.
- Manage growing data volumes in a secure, cost-efficient manner
- Protect mankind’s cultural heritage
- Focus more time and resources on mission goals