Making Sustainability a Workplace Priority

by | Mar 14, 2019

Shelton Stat

50% of Americans say a company’s corporate social responsibility (sustainability and corporate citizenship) positively impacts their likelihood to purchase a product from that company (Eco Pulse 2018).

Sustainability Win of the Week

Similar to our own Pulse™ reports, each year WeSpire – a Boston-based technology firm that delivers impact-oriented employee engagement programs – releases its State of Employee Engagement report. Whereas Shelton Group polls consumers on sustainability and energy-related topics, WeSpire polls employees on workplace satisfaction and engagement in company programs. And this year (just as in previous years), measuring the impact of purpose-based programs figures prominently in their report.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  1. Nearly all employees care about their company’s positive impact in the world: “88% of employees of all ages prefer to work at a company that is making a positive impact.”
  2. Employees are much more likely to stick around longer and to recommend their employer to others if the company has a purpose: “employees are nearly 50% more likely to recommend their employer as a good place to work if they feel the mission or purpose of their company makes their work important.”
  3. In turn, such companies “are at a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting new talent.” Just look at Patagonia, a company that is completely rooted in purpose – and attracts the best talent because of it. As Rick Ridgeway (VP Environmental Initiatives and Special Projects, Patagonia) states in our most recent report, “Another thing we have always enjoyed is the fact that young people want to work for us. When we get a job opening, we’ll get 500 to 2,000 applicants sometimes, and we get to pick absolutely the very best. Recruitment and retention is a huge value upside of these kind of commitments.”
  4. Employees want sustainability programs, and they’re not getting what they want. Only 13% of companies represented in the survey had sustainability programs. However, “sustainability was the top engagement program employees would like to see offered” in the 77% of companies currently lacking such programs – and “the desire for sustainability is particularly pronounced for people under the age of 30.”
  5. In regard to prosocial incentives at work (i.e., benefits – educational opportunities, fitness/health credits, more travel time, etc.), 28% of under-30s and 17% of workers over 30 preferred “sustainability upgrades to my home or vehicle” as their top choice.

But perhaps the most crucial observation was this: “Given 85% of S&P 500 companies report out on sustainability, clearly employees do not feel included in their internal sustainability efforts.” We preach about this all the time: get your sustainability house in order then shout your story from the rooftops. That includes communicating – and engaging – your employees in the story. Based on our experience, you’ll be amazed at the energy, ideation and revenue you’ll drive by simply engaging your employees in the vision for sustainability you’ve already created.

News of the Week

Trader Joe’s phasing out single-use plastics nationwide following customer petition – EcoWatch

Consumers asked for it, and Trader Joe’s delivered. In response to a petition which garnered nearly 100 thousand signatures, Trader Joe’s is taking steps to phase out single-use plastics. Trader Joe’s is one of just a few companies to no longer carry plastic shopping bags – and now the store will work to eliminate another 1+ million pounds of plastic, namely by targeting packaging and switching to biodegradable and compostable options.

Levi’s new hemp clothing uses less water to grow and feels ‘just like cotton’ – Environmental Leader

What many consumers don’t know about denim is that it’s environmentally intensive to produce. The cotton cultivation and dyeing/finishing process for a single pair of blue jeans takes almost 3,000 gallons of water. Jeans manufacturers are looking to more sustainable options, including Levi-Strauss & Co., which recently launched a new line of 70/30 cotton-to-hemp blend blue jeans that will cut down on water use and carbon footprint while remaining “just like cotton” in look and feel.

We’re in business to save our home planet – Patagonia

Patagonia recently released its 2018 Environmental and Social Initiatives report – detailing accomplishments from last year. This gorgeous 116-page report is not your typical sustainability report. It is a teaching tool – for readers to learn about trends in plastic waste and microplastics, organic agriculture and ecology, energy and carbon, and various grassroots initiatives across the U.S. and the globe. Also worth checking out: this Patagonia YouTube video detailing the main points.

When it comes to sustainability, how does YOUR company stack up?

We’ve interviewed sustainability leaders and gathered their advice for what it takes to successfully bake sustainability into a corporate structure. Learn the stages of corporate sustainability – from initial strategy to final implementation – and get the game plan to achieve a competitive advantage by mobilizing your team.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.