About a year ago, Grainger had a problem.
It wasn’t that Grainger, the world’s leading industrial supplies provider, didn’t have a culture of effective sustainable practices. From top to bottom, Grainger had implemented practices that reduced waste and saved energy.
Grainger’s 18,400 employees didn’t really know all that much about those practices – or how those practices added up to make Grainger a sustainable company.
So the Grainger folks, led by Corporate Sustainability Manager Jeff Rehm, asked Shelton Group to help them crystallize their sustainability story and engage their employees.
Grainger’s value proposition lies in helping its customers get their jobs done. As we looked at how Grainger’s employees bring that to life, we found that the qualities that make them successful are the same ones that make them a model of sustainability.
They aren’t just getting the job done; they’re getting it done the right way.
We worked with the people at Grainger to define their sustainability story through the lens of their brand story.
This is a process we recommend for our clients, to ensure that their sustainability stories are aligned both with their brand and their company culture.
With the sustainability story defined and aligned with the Grainger brand, we created a broad sustainability program to engage every employee throughout the corporation.
We designed an internally facing website to teach Grainger’s employees about what the company is doing right and what they can do to help. The site includes a quiz, a contest, tips and videos, as well as access to a social network on which Grainger employees can interact with each other and exchange ideas.
To launch the website internally, we created a poster campaign to highlight Grainger employees’ pride in what they do and tie that pride to their sustainability story.
Each poster targets a different group of employees and speaks to them directly about how they could do their jobs more sustainably.
Hello, Green Ambassadors
This Earth Day, Grainger launched another facet of this ongoing sustainability effort – its Green Ambassadors program.
As Jeff Rehm said in an interview with Shelton Insights, “We have put a Green Ambassador in every one of our 400 facilities in the U.S. It’s great for us in two ways.
“One, I’m sitting north of Chicago in our global headquarters, and it allows me to have a dialogue with people that are at the front lines with our customers in our operations.
“At the same time, it allows them to communicate across the country and share best practices with one another. Prior to that, they would be isolated in their own district. It’s really exciting.”
One Green Ambassador, a customer service associate in Seattle, helped his branch win an award as Seattle’s Top Recycling Business of the Year. “He is especially passionate about sustainability,” says Rehm.
“He took it upon himself to figure out how to reduce waste in our facility and to get his team members to recycle more, and got that recognition as a result.”
In the end, Grainger wanted its employees to jump on board and take ownership of the sustainability efforts. So far they have, and the company continues to grow and improve – the right way.