Calkins is vice president, Environment, Health and Safety at Xerox
Corporation. She is responsible for policy and strategy development and
strategic implementation of all EH&S and sustainability programs at Xerox worldwide. Calkins is also a member of the external advisory board for the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and a member of the board of trustees for the Nature Conservancy Central and Western New York Chapter.
tough economic times, organization today struggle to justify a
meaningful investment in green initiatives, because they perceive the
efforts will generate added costs, not concrete business benefits.
misperception presents a major problem for global sustainability
progress. In order to launch to launch and maintain a substantive
sustainability strategy in a profit-oriented organizational structure
it must deliver a definable ROI.
There is a pragmatic solution to this problem. I
believe it is possible for businesses today to develop environmental
initiatives that will make a quantifiable contribution to both the
environment and the bottom line. At Xerox, we know first hand that what
is good for the environment is also good for business thanks to a
decades-long commitment to sustainability.
Here are 5 steps to achieving sustainability success in your business:
1. Explore the entire value chain of your business
narrow your focus to one functional area. Open your mind to
improvements and innovations that could reduce environmental impacts
throughout your value chain, from beginning to end. When you take time
to consider all of the working components of your value chain, you will
dramatically expand the playing field for smart green initiatives.
2. Use disciplined, quantitative analysis to identify your best opportunities
tools and methodologies developed for proven quality management
programs like Lean Six Sigma can help you identify problems and
opportunities that will produce the biggest benefits in the shortest
time frame. Goals and metrics align and empower the organization. Establishing these will enable more people to contribute and you will accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible.
3. Make sure the proposed improvement or innovation will deliver both economic and environmental benefits
today’s highly competitive business environment, quantifiable benefits
are an essential requirement for any “smart way to green.” So it’s
important to assess the win-win potential of any project before you
begin active development. Economics is one of the three pillars of sustainability.
If you put the organization out of business while launching your
sustainability program, that is not a sustainable business strategy.
4. Think “partnerships”
maximize your opportunity for success, you need to team up with
suppliers, customers, outsourcing providers and other partners. At
Xerox, for example, we work with all of the partners in our value chain
to reduce waste, energy use, greenhouse gases and our overall
environmental impact. It’s all part of our effort to achieve one of our
long-standing company goals: We want to operate waste-free
manufacturing facilities that produce waste-free products that help our
customers create waste-free work environments.
5. Be innovative
No question about it. Innovation is a vital cog in the big green
machine. So when you begin working on green initiatives, think outside
the box. Take a fresh look at the way you operate throughout your value
chain or how you are evaluating cost to the business. And look for
opportunities to innovate. It could lead to breakthrough results—for
the environment and your business.
Beyond these 5 steps, you must be passionate about what you are doing. In a very real sense, it’s a privilege to be involved in work of such far-reaching importance. If
you let that sense of mission inspire you, you will bring a deep sense
of commitment and determination to your efforts, which will inspire
those around you. That, in turn, will help you become even more
effective as a champion of sustainability in your organization.