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|Articles - June 2010|
|Wednesday, May 26, 2010|
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The 100 Best Green Companies to Work For are doing whatever it takes to
Neil Kelly CEO Tom Kelly has been a longtime leader in Oregon’s green building sector.
Suzie Atkin is one of those green knights. Atkin, a designer for Neil Kelly, which ranked No. 9 on this year’s list, readily admits to reaching into the compost bin to grab something recyclable. It comes down to awareness, she says. Atkin would know. She’s a member of Neil Kelly’s “green team,” a group of employees charged with making their workplace more sustainable. Two things stuck out to Atkin about making that a reality: the low-hanging fruit and getting people to follow through.
“It’s been a constant education and learning process for everyone,” she says.
Those low-hanging fruits have been picked at Neil Kelly, along with some high-hanging morsels as well. Half the lights are permanently off throughout company headquarters. Low-flow toilets conserve energy and water. Outside, a Zipcar sits in the parking lot. In the back, an old biodiesel tank used to fuel company cars harkens back to earlier green efforts.
Other winners from our 100 Best are switching to green cleaners, compact fluorescent bulbs, and programmable thermostats; they are investing in solar panels, upgrading their buildings to meet LEED standards, cutting down their waste streams, buying bikes for loyal commuters, giving allowances to employees who buy hybrid cars, and thinking of new ways to overcome challenges presented by equipment, costs and other constraints.
Over 26,000 employees from 503 Oregon companies and nonprofits completed the surveys on which the 2010 rankings are based, rating their satisfaction with and the importance of their company’s sustainable practices. Companies also provided a report detailing their green efforts.
Oregon’s entire business community, in terms of geography and industry sector, is represented. Newbie businesses energetically committed to green ideals join businesses with long traditions of incorporating sustainability in the workplace.
And they are going beyond the ordinary and expected, even though finding fresh ways to be sustainable can be just as difficult as cutting costs and finding a profit in this economy. To be a sustainable business in Oregon means thinking creatively, investing in your values, and above all, listening to the employees. For the most part, that’s where the ideas come from.
Central Point-based cheese making company Rogue Creamery (No. 22) used to generate two garbage bags full of wax every day. The wax is used to store aging cheese, and it can’t be cleaned or used again. Kristine DeMaria, a quality assurance manager at Rogue Creamery, spearheads the company’s sustainability efforts. She says finding a way to reuse the wax was an obvious goal. DeMaria and her colleagues started by looking for a candle maker. They never found one, but they did find a manufacturing company who has taken the wax and put it to use. That cut their waste stream by 30%.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
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