Breakfast session -
Corporate responsibility: improving business and the world around us
The (green) business of corporate responsibility
It’s possible to have a positive impact on society while also improving your company’s bottom line. A panel of business leaders who’ve done exactly that shared their techniques during Friday’s breakfast session, “Corporate responsibility: improving business and the world around us.”
Deborah K. Holmes, Americas Director, Corporate Responsibility, Ernst & Young, led the discussion about ways to live your values through your company — all while running an extremely successful business.
Jenniffer Deckard, President, Fairmount Minerals, Ltd., said there’s a tipping point where business leaders need to realize that the three pillars of sustainable development — people, planet and prosperity — don’t have to conflict. A stronger and more profitable company can do better things for the environment and society, she said.
Her company is one of the largest producers of industrial sand in North America. In 2011, it invested about $5 million in sustainable initiatives. The payback was about $11 million in financial benefit, she said.
Deckard said her company’s values also drive its selection of partners. When Fairmount picked a private equity firm in 2009, it didn’t go with the highest bidder. It chose a firm that matched its culture and values.
In the hospitality industry, people don’t talk about some of the most significant sustainability and environmental efforts because they’re just good business, said Wayne Goldberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, La Quinta Inns & Suites. The company owns, operates and franchises more than 850 hotels in the US, Canada and Mexico. Some of its sustainability measures were undertaken for budgetary reasons, such as switching to compact fluorescent lighting 15 years ago. “It was really done because it saved money, and it was economical,” Goldberg said. “At the end of the day, it is also more environmentally friendly.”
Sherry Stewart Deutschmann, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LetterLogic, Inc., said a “tree-hugger” boyfriend — who would later become her husband — exerted enough pressure for her to change the type of paper her company uses to process statements, invoices and checks for other businesses. Recycled paper gums up the machines, but she found LetterLogic could instead use paper from sustainable forestry practices. The windows on its envelopes are now made from cornstarch.
“What surprised me was how that resonated with our clients,” she said, adding that several chose her company for that reason. “It turned out to be good business.”
Sherry Stewart Deutschmann
Deborah K. Holmes
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