An article the other day caught my attention. It was about the U.S. Army releasing its first annual sustainability report. We’re reading and hearing a lot more these days about green — from private sector to public sector and the government. It seems as if green is everywhere. I’m actually looking forward to news about climate change issues in 2009 — it will be a big year. And, I’m really proud of what we’re doing at ING in the area of sustainability.
Our parent company in Amsterdam looked at our global environmental impact for the first time in 2005. After identifying the main components of our environmental footprint as business travel, electricity and paper use, we developed the ING Environmental Statement. In doing so, ING introduced its first measure on limiting energy use and business travel.
Last year, we purchased clean, emission-free wind energy credits for our U.S. operations. The purchase was equal to 100 percent of our electricity usage at ING locations throughout the U.S. This was significant in many ways: it reinforced our commitment to conducting our business responsibly around the globe, and we were the first major Dutch financial institution to become 100 percent carbon-neutral. However, from an HR perspective, I found our employees’ response to these initiatives to be amazing. They were eager to learn what else the company could do to mitigate our impact on the environment and how they could help. Ready, set, go — employee engagement is off and running.
The answer: Orange Goes Green (OGG) — an awareness campaign was born. Employee-driven teams were formed at each of our major sites across the U.S. Their mission: to make it easier for employees to learn about and, most important, adopt ways to minimize their environmental impact. OGG teams host employee engagement and awareness events. Examples of this include education fairs, farmers’ markets where employees can buy from local farmers, Earth Week awareness activities, and composting classes, etc. The OGG teams partner with our volunteer teams to hold environmentally focused events like park, trail and beach cleanups, and tree plantings. They are integral to the successful implementation of our environmental strategy.
The OGG teams also create newsletters to communicate to their colleagues locally to promote our onsite recycling centers, how to sign up for Energy Star’s “Change the World” campaign and even educate employees on how to print double-sided to save paper. To support their efforts, our internal communications team created a web site on our intranet that’s devoted to Orange Goes Green. The site is an extension of our awareness campaign and provides employees with information on environmental care and living green at work and at home. We’ve even included information about the web site in our employee-orientation program, so from day one, employees know that environmental care is important.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, we’re applying that philosophy to our responsibility to manage our carbon footprint. Collectively, we’re educating each other and taking measures to improve our environment. We understand that change does not happen overnight, but we’ve made progress in building a culture where everyone can be engaged in environmental care.