• Corporate Sustainability – Do the Simple Stuff

    The responsibility for employee safety is mine.  I take this very seriously. When I began in Personnel it was one of the first things I was charged with improving.   Since back around 1990 (AD) I have been dealing with employee safety and risk management.

    One of the main reasons my Company became concerned with employee safety had to do with Workmen’s Compensation Insurance costs.  Due to a number of claims the cost had become outrageously expensive and I was tasked with doing something about it.  With the help of a couple of other committed folks in our organization we were able to improve our safety record.  As our safety record improved, we found the cost of insurance began to diminish.  Not really an ah-hah moment but the savings were sizable, and thus showed up on the Company radar.

    It was a lesson well learned.  I have kept my eye on safety over the years for two reasons.  I don’t want to be the guy from the employer knocking on a door or calling late at night telling a loved one about an incident.  Reason number two, it helps keep our Company profitable.  There are other reasons but those are the biggys.  I haven’t blown my horn about it much recently; in fact, it is just the way we do business, cultural if you will.

    Having been involved with Project Social and my partner Laura Schroeder I am learning new things from her all the time (and I am supposed to be the mentor).  Laura is broadening my horizons to understand things like Corporate Sustainability, and Corporate Sustainability Reporting.  After a little tutoring I more or less got it. This is something you and your Company need to have on the horizon, whether you think you need to – or not! It is becoming more vital information about your organization and how you do business.   For me, there was in interesting twist to this experience, in between Corporate Sustainability and effective risk management within an organization.

    Given the environment that Laura is working in, I have become somewhat (not completely) a star pupil for corporate sustainability.  You see this employee safety stuff is given a rather lofty status when outsiders review organizations. In looking at Laura’s post on this, you can see that safety and risk management are directly tied to points 7, 8 & 9 and indirectly to 10& 11. I am helping position my Company to be a respectable global corporate citizen and not even really aware of it.

    We find that safety is only part of a great production operation.  The organization must be equally concerned about Quality and Productivity as well.  These things all point to a healthy bottom line; which after all is why we are in business.

    In the end, safety is good business.  It helps a Company to make money.  Oh and one more thing, our Company re-cycles too – why because it makes money.

    If your Company is not eminently concerned about safety and/or recycling, you are leaving lots of low hanging fruit on the vine my friend.

     
  • Project Social Green HR Making Money

    Project Social continues to turns green and rolls on.  This week Laura and I discussed greening of HR and how to interest people in making HR more accountable for Green issues.   For those of us in the private sector we find profit margin most rewarding.  How can green make money for our Company? Another way to look at that is ([Current Cost] – [Improved Process}=> 0) = PROFIT. Profit, this is the main reason American business recycle is because there is economic gain to be had.  We are Capitalists. 

    Having said that let me carve out exclusion, some businesses recycle because it is the right thing to do.  Not for Profits may recycle because it is the right thing to do, but they too should be or are looking for economic gain out of recycling.  How can an HR department get something like this going? Well paper is a pretty easy target for the gain formula, while some of the other landfill destined items are a little more challenging.   Paper may require some handling or storage but it usually work easily if you are looking for the old ROI.

    This compactor creates 1000 lb bales of used paper.

    And remember if it is cheaper to dispose of via an alternate means than sending it off to the old dump, it is still a winner and a green alternative. This is another winner for the HR leader looking to do a little green HR.

    Through our discussion on the issues Laura has enlightened me as to how in most European countries there are significant regulations mandating Green Initiatives as well as tax incentives to reward those compliant businesses. While I am not a tax expert it would seem to me that if the U.S. government would make more Green initiatives more financially rewarding, businesses would  rapidly move in that direction.

    Over the years we have seen how tax law drives investment in and out of different areas.  Europe has already figured this formula out [New Tax incentive] + [New investment] = Innovation.

    So Congress needs to come up with the tax rewards for business – or the mandates to bring  green change to business!

     
  • Project Social – Green Jobs

    Project Social and Green Jobs… That’s my assignment.  Laura, my project social partner and I are working on learning more about green jobs and how HR is dealing with this.  Since Laura is obviously the brighter of the two of us (I let people shoot hockey pucks at me) she kind of took the high road on this.  Laura is looking renewable energy credits and jobs in green tech. I on the other hand, with a background in manufacturing and distribution, am let’s say may be a bit earthier wanted to look more to the trenches of recycling. 

    I wanted to see where this whole process of Green/recycling begins. For more than three years I have been doing my part and taking my paper, metal and most plastic out of my waste stream and putting in my blue recycling bin.   For a nominal fee, I set this container at the end of my driveway every week and poof there you have it, I am recycling. This seems pretty simple to me.  Have you ever wonder what happens next? Mind you all of my stuff goes in one bin and then into one truck.  So when the truck gets full they take it to the center dump it into the giant recycling machine and it comes out the other end, not quite.

     This is what happens.

     

    I  was originally going to shoot my own video of this, but later found out the material in my town is shipped elsewhere for sorting; so thanks to my Youtube friend pipmossop for the use of this video. 

    Those of us in manufacturing would like to automate everything, because we know that you only have employment issues – if you have employees.  But some tasks are better left to the human hands, eyes and brain. So, there are going to have to be a lot of jobs like the sorters to continue to make recycling viable.  It is going to be Human Resources’ challenge to turn these into good jobs. Let’s be honest, the sorting of garbage is a likely candidate for Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs.

    We need to view all of the folks who are working in the recycling stream as ecological soldiers, saving the planet from all of the people who live here. It is through these types of practice we can reduce the number of Garbage Mountains that are dotting our landscape all over the country.   I will be visiting my nearest sorting center and find out just what it is that they do, in  order to motivate thier workforce and keep good people in a job that might be viewed as undesireable by many – perhaps a challenge that many of us face daily!

     
  • Project Social Seeing Green

    Another week has gone by and Laura and I are striving to be the best Project Social students- yeah we’re both overachievers.  While we have made reference to our super secret project, we have to be honest.  It has changed a couple of times because we got beat on the draw. 

    One of the things that the two of wanted to do as a pair is create some body of work that would be interesting and useful to those in the hr blogosphere.   We have kicked around several ideas during our various conversations. One topic that seems to return is what we call green HR.  This would include jobs that directly or indirectly relate to environmental sensitive matters, and practices that are designed to reduce waste and improve recycling. 

    In our dialogue I was pontificating to Laura how we are scarring the landscape here in the Mid-West.  My brother-in-law, who is an Arizona native disparagingly refers to me as a flat-lander, well we are changing that.  In my travels over the summer I have seen three what I will call Garbage Mountains.  They are all within about 100 miles of Chicago.  There are literally mountains of garbage that are from the waste hauled of ht urban area.  The one pictured  here is near Pontiac, IL, just to the west of I-55.  If you have driven this stretch of road you have no doubt seen this and hopefully wondered – what in the hell is that? 

    Garbage Mountain - Near Pontiac, IL (I-55 mile post 200)

    I shared this story with Laura and she began to tell me how most European countries are much more forth right about dealing with environmental matters.  In Europe there is much more regulation around the matter than in the states. I told Laura it was interesting to met because at my employer we are diligent about recycling – but only because it makes good business sense – it cheaper to recycle than dump!  We segregate paper, metal, wood and food products and push them to the approriate recycling stream. While we don’t actually make money doing this, it does cost less than sending it to a dump, therefore we have ROI! 

    We both thought Green HR is good direction for our contibutions to Project Social.  At lease in this country, it has to make good business sense ($$$) to get American businesses to be on-board.  We seem to lack the social responsibility held by our European partners.

    So the on-going conversation got us to thinking we need to begin to create a body of resources for HR on  green issues.  We need to learn about green jobs –  jobs that specifically helping address environmental matters. We want to learn about Companies that genuinely care about their carbon foot print, why they care and what they are doing about it.  We are going to  be looking for help and assistance from our fellow bloggers and tweeps as well.  We are going use the simple formula exspoused by fellow Project Social betaite Lisa Rosendahl– tweet out an idea, build on it, look for feedback and blog about it. 

    My Project Social partner Laura Schroeder feels the same way and has posted similarly on this topic over at Working Girl and we want to do our part to encourage the growing movement toward corporate social responsibility. So if you have some knowledge about Green HR that you could share please contact Laura or me.