On the scene: 100 Best Green Workplaces awards

Businesses should pay attention to their impacts on people and community as much as the environment.  That was the theme of the eighth annual Oregon Business 100 Best Green Workplaces awards luncheon held yesterday at the Nines Hotel in Portland. 

 “Whether you are big or small, do it not just for planet but the people,” said 100 Best keynote speaker Vanessa Keitges, CEO of Columbia Green Technologies.

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Winners of the top ten Best Green Workplaces in Oregon picked up the theme during the awards presentation. Here are a few remarks from company representatives who accepted the awards.

Standing Stone Brewing (No. 7):  “I want to echo what Vanessa said: Family is key. If they aren’t behind what we do, then we’re just spinning our wheels.”

AJ’s Auto Repair (No. 9):  “If you empower employees they will come up with very creative solutions.”

Research into Action (No.5):  “We’ve figured out that incentives really work; even small incentives; shaming, not so much.  And, echoing what people have said, culture is really important."

Coyote Trails School of Nature (No. 2): “We all learn from more from our staff than we teach them; we learn more from our campers. I’m so excited to take this back to southern Oregon because it means we are walking the talk.”

Rose City Mortgage (No. 1): “We need to start to move past [composting, recycling) into how we treat the people.”  Our community is facing an enormous homelessness problem. If everyone here did one small thing thing to contribute to homeless solution, it would go a long way.”

More than 15,0000 employees from 282 for-profit and nonprofit organizations took part in the 2016 100 Best Green Workplaces survey, which ranks employers on a number of sustainability practices.  For the full 100 Best list, click here.

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Oregon Business also hosted a Green your Workplace panel discussion yesterday focused on B-Corp certification. Panelists talked about the process and, echoing the 100 Best theme, said it was important for businesses to consider social as well as environmental impacts.

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“It all comes back to taking care of people,” said Alando Simpson, president of City of Roses Recycling and Disposal. Simpson said sustainability has always been "embedded in my life — but maybe not through mainstream concept of it: bioswales, solar panels, mass transit.  For me, it was being raised cognizant about how to use resources and treat people well. I wanted to exemplify that there is something greater than just the economic part of the business.”

Simpson quoted Hal Taussig, the inspiration for the B-Corp movement: “If capitalism is good, it should be good for poor people.”

Panelist Justin Yuen, founder of FMYI, a cloud based service, said his company’s carbon footprint is relatively small. “So at some point, we needed to look at what our biggest impacts are: it’s clearly on the people and the community.” To address equity and social impact in NE Portland, where FMYI is located,  the company brought on an intern from Self-Enhancement Inc. to help research B Corp company best practices.

Linda Baker

Linda Baker is the editor of Oregon Business

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