Monday, May 07, 2007

Humble Beginnings

Taking the advice of people that have worked on this before, I decided to start with some simple inquiries about sustainability in our corporation. I sent the Harvard Business School Article from December 2006 entitled "Strategy & Society; The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility" to my manager and inquired about corporate sustainability initiatives with my HR department, referring to reports by Baxter and REI for context.

I expressed my long-term interest in sustainable business during the hiring process. The person that was largely responsible for my hiring, a long-time professional friend and former coworker, and the one I expressed this interest with, left the company about one month after I was hired. I may have initially underestimated this change would have on my attitude toward this new opportunity, feeling initially abandoned. Fortunately, my new manager and I have a good, natural relationship, keeping me positive about the possibilities for me to grow professionally. He has a background in environmentally related jobs (from his youth) may help us communicate about my interest in sustainability.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been fortunate to connect with many passionate and knowledgeable people that are working in the field of sustainable business. I contacted Kevin Hagen, REI's Program Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility and main author of REI's Stewardship Report to tap his working knowledge in the field. Kevin and I were introduced by a mutual acquaintance back when I was working for Beacon Power and Kevin was attending the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. When I mentioned that I needed to learn how to introduce sustainability to my company, Kevin recommended the following books:

Dancing with the Tiger – Learning Sustainability Step by Natural Step, Brian F. Nattrass, PhD
The Sustainability Advantage, by Bob Willard
Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

The good news is that I have read 2 of the 3. In the immortal words of Meatloaf, 2 outta 3 ain't bad. Now what do I do?

I will wait for a bit to see what kind of response I get from the people I have asked about sustainable business.

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