By Pamela Gordon, Senior Consultant and TFI Antea Group Collaboration Leader

From attracting new investors and meeting evolving consumer expectations to gaining a competitive advantage through innovation, there’s little doubt that embedding sustainability within your company’s overall strategy offers a wealth of business benefits—all while making the world a better place. In fact, in its “The Business Case for Eco-Innovation” publication, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that companies with a focus on eco-innovation are growing at an average rate of 15% annually. 

But despite your best intentions to design, implement, and track sustainability programs that are highly effective, the question is: Are your sustainability initiatives really living up to their full business potential? 

Since adding sustainability consulting to our breadth of services, Antea Group has partnered with executives and sustainability leaders at companies across an array of industries to help them uncover sustainability risks and opportunities—all with the goal of helping them achieve maximum sustainability ROI.   

As a result of our work, some common opportunities for improvement have emerged. In this piece, we talk with Pamela Gordon, Senior Consultant and TFI-Antea Group Collaboration Leader, about three of those opportunities. With two decades of coaching and sustainability consulting under her belt, Gordon offers interesting insight and examples that your organization can leverage to drive business performance and sustainability success. 

OPPORTUNITY 1: RECOGNIZING INTERNAL BLIND SPOTS 
Even if your company has made its commitment to sustainability known by baking it into the overall business strategy and company culture, you aren’t immune to internal blind spots. To illustrate this point, Gordon shares a real-life example: 

Years ago, I visited the headquarters of a large electronics company. I was already impressed with their operation when we visited the cafeteria. The cafeteria deeply reflected their sustainability model—there were no one-use implements and food waste was being composted. It was impressive. 

But about a year later, I visited that company again and that was no longer the case. There were plastic utensils, one-use plates, plastic packaging, and the trash was overflowing. Of course, I asked the sustainability champion at the company: “What happened?” 

While they thought their sustainability initiatives were comprehensive, when an opportunity came to change vendors, someone in procurement made what they thought was a sensible, cost-effective change. The problem? Sustainability principles were not part of the selection criteria—not to mention the fact that the company was already saving money with greener practices.

As you can see, internal blind spots can disrupt your sustainability initiatives. As a result, you need to make sure you’re drawing the internal circle wide enough to help ensure success. 

OPPORTUNITY 2: LOOKING BEYOND COMPANY WALLS 
While there are many forward-thinking companies that are pushing beyond their organizational boundaries to optimize value chains and enhance product stewardship, this is still an unrealized opportunity for most businesses. Why? Because many are narrowly focused on the sustainability aspects within their facilities alone, according to Gordon. 

“From raw materials to distribution to what happens after use, in order to get the most ROI out of your sustainability initiatives, you have to look at the bigger picture—and that means enabling your suppliers and your customers to contribute and share in the benefits,” she says. 

While it may be tempting to say that you can’t control your suppliers or your customers, from our perspective that’s far from the truth. You hold power and influence over your suppliers with the contracts you hold. As for your customers, you can offer them a benefit they didn’t have before by designing products with the entire lifecycle in mind. 

OPPORTUNITY 3: CREATING A COMPREHENSIVE SUSTAINABILITY ROADMAP 
Sustainability programs certainly require an investment of time, resources, and budget. But like any investment, the strategy needs to include measurable short-term and long-term goals, as well as the right key performance indicators (KPIs) and tactics that will guide your path. 

Of course, the common question for many is: “Where do I start?” Here’s what Gordon had to say on the subject: 

Through our sustainability leadership consulting work, we coach executives to develop long-term high-sustainability roadmaps that include both monetary elements (i.e. cost savings and new revenues) as well as environmental metrics (i.e., reducing unnecessary use of materials, energy, water, and transportation).  

This begins with conducting a materiality assessment to uncover what has the best immediate and future potential for environmental and business gains. From there, these opportunities are vetted and plotted across the roadmap, which then serves as a measurement and benchmarking tool and as a guide. 

While developing your roadmap will absolutely require time, effort, and resources—it’s a necessary investment to help ensure your business goals and sustainability initiatives are working together in harmony to drive shared value.  

If you don’t have the internal resources or expertise, consider partnering with a sustainability consulting firm. A firm’s team of consultants offer broad-based knowledge and expertise, as well as objectivity that can help uncover opportunities or risks that you may have missed. 

DRIVE SUSTAINABILITY ROI 
As the realities of climate change reveal themselves more and more each day, it’s time to dig deep to determine whether your sustainability initiatives are making a difference for the world and your bottom line.

Read the original article here

Owner Priscilla Lane-Rondeau came up with the idea for 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria when she realized that there was no place in New Hampshire that she could have a nice glass of wine and a homemade slice of pizza made from fresh, good quality ingredients.

 

MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Priscilla Lane-Rondeau, Owner of 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria

 

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The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean extends a mile deeper than Earth's highest point, Mt. Everest. As the deepest part of the ocean, you'd expect any images of this vast underwater world to inspire awe and wonder. In April, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a picture of the Mariana Trench and people were horrified by the image that took front and center, a single use plastic bag.

 

"People don't realize," says Priscilla Lane-Rondeau, owner of 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, "The straw you use for 20 minutes will last forever in the environment." In an effort to decrease the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our environment, however, Priscilla and other sustainability conscious restaurant owners are launching a campaign to completely eliminate the use of plastic straws. This campaign, informally referred to as "Skip the Straw" or "Stop Sucking," is one very achievable and practical way that we may all help offset our plastic use wastage.

 

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900 Degrees used to go through 10,000 plastic straws a month. In the restaurant industry, including a straw with every beverage is such a pervasive practice that servers and bartenders often do so without a second thought. To help employees transition over to going strawless, Priscilla cleverly selected shorter glasses to serve drinks in. For customers who insist on a straw, 900 Degrees offers a compostable corn alternative. The cost of providing this alternative carries about a tenfold increase in price and is much more expensive to the restaurant. Ideally, with the educational component of "Skip the Straw," posters and table tents to encourage customers to rethink their resource usage, customers will stop requesting straws altogether.

 

"Restaurants are some of the biggest waste contributors when you account for everything from napkins to single use to-go containers," Priscilla explains, "so it is important for restaurants to be aware and to take responsibility for this." From using shades and rugs made from recycled materials, to LED lights, composting, and even the type of glue that is used for the floor tiles, Priscilla is always looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible in her restaurants.

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The biggest challenge, Priscilla believes, is that restaurant owners do not have the awareness or time to research better, sustainable practices. But she hopes to use her involvement in the NH Lodging & Restaurant Association as a platform to help inspire others in the hospitality industry to be more sustainable. "It is possible to have an amazing product and be concerned about the environment," Priscilla empathically advocates. Employing 130 full and part time workers and having just opened its third location in Portsmouth, 900 Degrees exemplifies just that.

 

You can reach out to Priscilla at plane@900degrees.com to find out more about "Skip the Straw" and her sustainability efforts in the restaurant industry. And, if you're craving a nice glass of wine, paired with your favorite slice of pizza, be sure to stop by either the Manchester, Epping, or Portsmouth 900 Degrees location.

There’s potential for greater security, efficiency, fuel diversity and infrastructure resiliency

By Michael Behrmann, Director of the New Hampshire Clean Tech Council

michaelbehrmann-a0820636-02250359.jpegOur modern age of connectivity provides limitless opportunities for us to easily connect with one another for purposes of communication, commerce and just about anything you can imagine. While the benefits of this connectivity have fundamentally changed the global economy, it also brings with it a number of new challenges.

In the energy sector, internet-based connectivity requires us to address the challenge of protecting our electric power infrastructure from cyberattacks that could shut down the electricity system that powers our society. Could microgrids be part of the solution to this challenge?   

In late March of this year, the American public discovered our electric power grid had been the target of a major Russian-based hacking event over the course of two years. Fortunately, the hackers were unable to infiltrate and topple the grid. The attack did, however, open our eyes to the reality of how vulnerable our grid is to hacking and the potential severe impacts of those breaches on our society. 

Utilities work very hard to secure the grid but still experience frequent hacking events, to the tune of hundreds to potentially thousands of attempted hacks a day. What is currently being done is just not enough. In reality, if nothing changes it is likely only a matter of time before a catastrophic event occurs in the Northeast. What does it cost to have our businesses go down? How much is the cost to that lost business revenue, let alone the human toll? As recently discussed by Utility Dive in a related article, Llyod’s of London issued an analysis in 2015 noting an “economic loss of a widespread attack on the U.S. power grid at anywhere from $243 billion up to $1 trillion.” With such staggering losses it is difficult to comprehend the true economic damage to our country. That leads to the enormously important question of how we can protect ourselves and avoid such a devastating attack. 

This current reality requires immediate action to protect your business, your home, and the overall electric grid. Many cybersecurity experts, the federal Department of Energy, public officials and industry experts view the development and use of microgrids as a possible solution. 

A microgrid is created as a small(er) grid that can disconnect from the centralized grid infrastructure and create an islanding effect for a specific service area. These areas are largely powered by distributed energy resources like solar, wind, biomass, combined heat and power (CHP), and appropriately paired with sufficient storage to handle enough resource to manage the service area and silo the cyber threat. This ability to isolate and operate independently allows those residents and businesses to continue receiving power while their area operates autonomously. The ability to create a software barrier to the cyber threat provides an additional layer of protection that a large centralized software system can have difficulty with. 

With billions of planned grid investment occurring around the country in the coming years, we will see more microgrids considered and built. Last year, the first utility-scale microgrid project in the United States came online in Illinois, which can provide power to roughly 200 local residents. With more and more communities looking at these systems for both security and resiliency benefits there are sure to be more utility-scale projects to come.  

Closer to New Hampshire, the Town of Sterling Massachusetts installed a 2 megawatt and 3.9 megawatt-hour battery storage system at the Sterling Municipal Light Department to provide resiliency and 12 days worth of power for emergency services in the town. According to the Clean Energy States Alliance, Sterling has saved over $400,000 dollars of tax payer money since turning it on one year ago. 

The development of microgrids underscores the potential for greater security, efficiency, fuel diversity, and more resilient energy infrastructure to keep homes and businesses safely receiving power. Microgrids, powered by renewable energy and supported by storage, is rapidly growing as a cost-effective method of protection for our infrastructure. As we prepare for the future and work to protect New Hampshire from the impacts of cybersecurity threats against the electric grid, these technologies will be crucial to that success. Keep microgrids in your mind and in the minds of our policymakers, not just for our utilities, but for our homes, businesses and our state.   

Until next month…keep it clean New Hampshire! 

Read the original article here

MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Duncan Ross, Operational Excellence Project Manager at Lonza

 

picture1.pngWhen you're in the business of saving lives, how you do business and engage your community matters. Lonza Group with over 14,000 employees and 100 sites and offices, is one of the most-trusted and respected life science companies in the world. Lonza's Portsmouth, NH site, Lonza Biologics was acquired in 1996 and employs approximately 1,000 New Hampshire and central New England residents in the kind of advanced medical manufacturing that proves life-saving; from cutting-edge oncology treatments to addressing auto immune disorders. For Lonza, having a solid and sustainable business model is important not only to the vitality of the company, but also to that of the thousands of patients and their families that depend on Lonza's leading role in the healthcare industry.

 

 

Lonza employees putting together baskets to give to new mothers at the community baby shower (Photo credit: Lonza)

Increasingly, Lonza is realizing that it is just as imperative that the company plays a direct and engaged role in the communities it resides in. "I'm from New Hampshire. I went to UNH" Duncan Ross, Lonza's Operational Excellence Project Manager, explains, "I was growing up in the north country when the mills were shutting down and now I understand how important it is for a community to thrive. We are a large employer with a lot of complex infrastructure in the places we operate in. It's important and necessary for us that our communities thrive alongside our production facilities themselves." At the beginning of this year, Lonza corporate headquarters in Basel, Switzerland launched a pilot program for some of its sites to develop ways though which they could more deeply engage its local communities.

 

Lonza Biologics is already on its way to having a meaningful impact on the greater Portsmouth area. At the grassroots level, Lonza hosts careers days and school tours to encourage student interest in science and technology. Lonza also offers a benefit for all of its employees to volunteer for a day through avenues such as United Way's Day of Caring, Baby Basics drive or local beach clean ups. Food, clothing & toy drives, blood drives, and events that celebrate veterans frequent Lonza's Portsmouth facility. The company itself also actively recruits veterans to its workforce. Its annual golf tournament, the Harvest Open, has raised almost 1 million dollars for 36 local charities since 2001.  Lastly, the Lonza safety team and Environmental Action Forum (LEAF) team organizes initiatives such as the Environmental Health and Safety fair, which invites local businesses to share sustainability resources and initiatives.

 

“By joining NH Businesses for Social Responsibility we're really hoping to tie into the NHBSR network and develop the strategic partnerships that will allow us to do more,” Duncan states. “We want to connect with the resources and frameworks that other members have developed to guide our own community impact program. We have a very passionate and dedicated workforce with great ideas. It's just a matter of finding the right outlets and connections."

 

Connect with Duncan at our Spring Conference on May 2 in Concord or reach out to him by email at duncan.ross@lonza.com!!

 

By Trinnie Houghton, Executive and Organizational Coach of Sojourn Partners

Trinnie will be presenting at our Spring Conference on May 2 in Concord.
Sign up for her session "Lessons form Concious Leadership: Developing your Zone of Genius"
 

trinnie_pr.jpgFor those readers that might find themselves in an eye roll of “I am so tired of always checking in about people’s feelings.  Is there a place for the hard-charging, here’s-what-we’re-going-to-do-and-there’s-no-crying-in-baseball-type of command and control leader?” 

Absolutely.  In fact, we find that those truly successful command and control leaders have learned how to bring out the best in their team through empathy – caring about what their employees care about -- their family, their career, their team’s success, for example. The real question is how to use your empathy skills to create the ground work for the real tough conversations that need to happen.
 

Empathy is one of the most overlooked leadership skills – often relegated to being lumped in with “those emotions,” “the soft stuff” and “taking too much time.”  Research has shown, however, that empathy – or really feeling what someone else is feeling – is critical to employee engagement, retention, and attracting great talent.  In other words, the organization thrives when people care.
 

How to do bring in more empathy skills?  Here are some things that we use in our everyday practice to show we care:

1. Check your intent.See how you’re approaching the conversation.If you think they’ve got it all wrong, then “you’re wrong” is what gets communicated.See instead if you are open to taking another perspective.

2. See if you can first validate their perspective -- without rattling off what’s really wrong with it.Communicate that you hear how they’re feeling about things. Reflect what’s not being said.

3. See if you can find something you have in common: “We both have kids.We both love football.” You’re communicating that you’re on their side.

4. Ask open-ended questions and use “we” as much as possible: “How are you thinking it through?” “What are we missing?”

 

Bottom line:  Having tough conversations is not easy.  They do take time.  They can be uncomfortable.  But if it leads to alignment and connection and efficiency around where you’re headed, then aren’t these the conversations that you’re most willing to have?  Empathy is your doorway in.

Connect with Trinnie at our Spring Conference on May 2 in Concord or reach out to her by email at trinnie@sojournpartners.com!!

 

 

Social Venture Innovation Challenge Winners are Changing the Landscape of What's Possible in New Hampshire

Our next generation of business leaders and innovators are jumpstarting their careers through the University of New Hampshire's Social Venture Innovation Challenge (SVIC), which asks participants to imagine creative new business solutions to the most pressing environmental and social challenges in our communities. As a collaboration between the Carsey School for Public Policy and the Paul College of Business and Economics, SVIC equips students with a wealth of knowledge, resources, and mentorship to make their business ideas a reality.

UNH and NHBSR have partnered to support these young business professionals in their endeavors, as we realize how important it is for us to train the next generation of sustainabiliy leaders. Juliana Good of Crescendo Inclusive Curriculums and Andrew DeMeo of Half-Acre Beekeeping will be attending NHBSR's Spring Conference on May 2, where they will develop relationships within the larger NHBSR community and explore ways to help make their social innovation ventures successful!

 

Crescendo Inclusive Curriculums

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Juliana Good created Crescendo Inclusive Curriculums as a way to address the lack of representation of specials needs students in the performing arts communities. Very few youth with special needs are involved in music, theater, and arts because teachers do not have the resources, experience, or training to include all students in the classroom. By encouraging participation from all students and especially among a community that would greatly benefit from being involved in the arts, Crescendo Inclusive Curriculums seeks to sustain the arts in our public schools and for generations of young artists. Currently Juliana is building the 

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cross-sector partnerships and programmatic foundation to be able to launch a pilot for Crescendo Inclusive Curriculums in NH within the next year.

"I believe that being engaged in business is not just a question of profit. It's a questions of what your mission is and what you want to do to leave a mark on this world," Juliana earnestly and enthusiastically articulates, " I think that if you have the skills and resources to sustain a mission through a business, then that's a wonderful opportunity and one that I certainly am excited to be able to pursue."                                                                                                                                                      

 

Half-Acre Beekeeping 

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Bees are dying off at alarming rates and collapses in their population will have catastrophic consequences on our agriculture and food supply. "Bees affect all of us," Andy DeMeo, Co-founder of  Half-Acre Beekeeping stresses, "Pollinators play a very important role in our society, so it's important to not just appreciate and understand them, but to actively support them."

Half-Acre Beekeeping, which launched just this month, aims to make supporting local beekeeping accessible to anyone, while promoting a better, more ethical and environmentally friendly alternative to large-scale commercial honey production.

Half-Acre Beekeeping customers purchase hive shares or honey sourced from Half-Acre hives placed on local farms. The

unnamed.jpgbees themselves are bred from local populations and pollinate local crops in New Hampshire. By not transporting large colonies of bees from location to location (the predominant model of most commercial beekeepers), Half-Acre lessens the stress on the insects, minimizes the spread of diseases, and decreases their own carbon footprint.

"I feel that NHBSR is a natural fit for a business like Half-Acre," states Andrew, "While we of course want to run a commercially sustainable business, environmentalism is core to our mission.  My partner and I want to be connected with similarly minded businesses and individuals. Sustainability is such a multifaceted issue and the more ways we can tackle it, from different business areas and places in society, the better. I'm excited to meet as many people as I can at the Spring Conference."                                                                

 

You can reach out to Julianna at (480) 335-8767 and Andy at (603) 845-9816. Be sure to introduce yourself at our Spring Conference on May 2 and give these young entrepreneurs a warm welcome to the NHBSR community.

 

Photo credit 1: Perry Smith     Photo credit 2: Alexandra Allen     Photo credit 3 & 4: Perry Smith Photography, Half-Acre Beekeeping

 

By Andrew Winston, Author and Founder of Winston Eco-Strategies & NHBSR's 2017 Spring Conference Keynote

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Day 2 of the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, Feb. 2, 1960 (Picture: Jack Moebes / Corbis)

After surviving yet another mass murder at a school — a problem that only America seems to struggle with — many students have had enough. Led by impressive, articulate, passionate teenagers from Parkland, Florida, a national movement to tackle guns is finally building.

The vicious attacks on these kids started immediately. The most vile accusations — that the survivors appearing on TV aren’t even students at the school — are not even worth the time spent writing this sentence. But another common complaint, and the most laughable, is that teens are too young to run a movement (and thus must be pawns of some liberal conspiracy).

Former GOP Congressman Jack Kingston — a man who has lost his way somewhere — tweeted, and repeated on CNN, his skepticism: “Do we really think that 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?”

Um, yes. Yes we do.

The history of young people sparking revolutions is long and illustrious. The lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina were a pivotal moment in shifting the national discourse on segregation. The four young men — really kids at the time — that organized and led the protests were students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. And they were all teens.

Look at the resolve on the faces of David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Jabreel Khazan, and Joseph McNeill as they walk into the Walgreens… (the more famous picture above was actually day two, and included two new protestors, William Smith and Clarence Henderson).

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Image from Wikipedia

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A few years after the sit-ins, the March on Washington, made most famous by Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, was led by students, including Representative John Lewis, just 23 at the time.

Five years before Greensboro, Rosa Parks would not move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, sparking the most famous protest of the era. But Parks wasn’t actually the first to refuse to leave her seat. Nine months earlier, that honor went to Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old girl.

And of course, the modern equivalent of these pioneers is the young woman with a will of steel, the Pakistani hero Malala Yousafzai, known as just Malala (How many people have one-name fame in their teens?). Malala started blogging about living under the thumb of the Taliban when she was 11 years old. By 15, she was so threatening, the Taliban shot her in the head.

1neztzl5xelhianqvagyiuw.pngMy point is not a subtle one. Don’t dismiss these Parkland teens because they’re young. Watching how well they handle themselves and how they speak to power is thrilling.

Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Delaney Tarr, Cameron Kassky and others are using all forms of media expertly to create impact. And they’re effectively railing against a system that has allowed kids to be massacred at school. They act fearless and speak truth to power.

Kassky stood calmly in front of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on CNN. He asked Rubio repeatedly to stop taking money from the NRA. When the Senator said he would accept support from anyone who supported his agenda, Kassky shot back, “Your agenda’s protecting us, right?”

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Cameron Kassky and Senator Marco Rubio                                            Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg on CNN

I have two boys, 14 and 11. I honestly fear for their safety. I’ve felt powerless at times to change their reality of “active shooter drills” and living scared. So I’ve watched in awe as these teens, just a few years older than my son, have done so much so fast. They’ve gathered massive numbers of supporters online: Gonzalez collected 1.1 million Twitter followers in just a couple of weeks — that’s half a million more than the NRA has. These kids have created a national movement, all in the face of vicious attacks.

They are challenging what the adults in the room have allowed to become reality. They don’t want to accept that people should have such easy access to an AR-15. Or, to bring in other problems that affect the youth even more than us, they’re not happy that we’re not fighting climate change and building a clean economy (see a beauty of a tweet from David Hogg).

One of the big differences between this gun safety movement and what’s come before is the reaction from companies. Business is now expanding it’s “social responsibility” and sustainability agenda to include a long list of issues, from immigration and DACA, to LGBT and lobbying for climate action. They’re finally moving on guns. A growing list of big organizations, mainly in the travel sector (like United and Hertz), are ending co-marketing arrangements with the NRA and discounts for members. And on February 28th, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would no longer sell “assault-style firearms” or high-capacity magazines, or sell guns to people under 21.

These are brave kids. And I know that that they’re not really fearless. Instead, they have that sense of invulnerability that only teens have which allows them to power through any fear.

These teens are blissfully unaware of what’s “impossible”

But they also have a blessed ignorance — not of facts, which they seem to command pretty well. No, they’re blissfully unaware of what’s “impossible.” They choose to ignore that they’re not supposed to ask for a ban on weapons of war in civilian hands. They don’t know that some politicians are “unbeatable” in their districts, so they just plan to vote them out.

These kids, like their predecessors from Alabama to Pakistan, can change what’s possible.

And millions of them will be voting in 2018 and 2020.

Read the original article here

 

 

MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Jessica Kinsey, Career Development Manager at Cirtronics and NHBSR Board Member

screen_shot_2018-02-22_at_4.08.33_pm.pngThe customer is always right is an age-old adage central to prominent business models, where focus on corporations, their suppliers, and increasing demand are the factors driving a company’s decision making. Cirtronics, a 40% employee-owned advanced manufacturing technology company in Milford, NH, offers a more expansive model, upholding a central commitment to also serving its employees, local community, and the environment.

Cirtronics has become a leader not only in advanced manufacturing, but also in championing a philosophy of service.

 

Employees                                                                                                          
Cirtronics make a special effort to have its employees always feel connected. Everything from the company’s communications to the layout of its facilities is designed to promote interaction, responsiveness, and transparency. Cirtronics' offices and manufacturing spaces are wide open and efficient with wheels on everything from the chairs to the supply carts.

Cirtronics has a similar approach to cultivating the growth of its employees.

“We respond to our employees’ interests by giving them the support, training, and freedom they need to branch out into different departments,” explains Jessica Kinsey, Career Development Manager at Cirtronics. “They are then able to contribute in ways that speak to their own skills and interests and are, consequently, stronger and more invested employees.”

Community
The Cirtronics Community Out-Reach Program (CCORP) aims to donate 10% of company profits to local charities. Last year this amounted to around $100,000 in donations. Cirtronics also supports local nonprofits by providing fundraising teams, space for meetings and events, and volunteer opportunities. CCORP actively connects employees to local volunteer opportunities and pays them for 36 hours of their volunteer time.

Just as the company is employee driven, committees like CCORP are comprised of rotating employee-owners who aim to address community needs with the skills and resources Cirtronics has to offer.

Environment
Another rotating employee-owner committee, the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) seeks to reduce Cirtronics’s carbon footprint. One of ESP’s initiatives, the Conservation Station, was highlighted in NHBSR’s 2016 Sustainability Slams and resulted in a 90% reduction in non-biodegradable plasticware usage.

One of the ESP’s most successful campaigns is the twice-yearly highway cleanup program where employee-owners collect nearly 100 bags of roadside trash. Going out, having employees strap up their boots, and get dirty is just one very visceral way that Cirtronics exemplifies leading by its principals.

 

Kinsey stresses, “When we’re able to align the work we do with our core values, we’re truly able to thrive, grow, and contribute our best each and every day. This philosophy and our commitment to service is woven into the DNA of Cirtronics. We see our investments in our employees and their wellbeing, our local community, and the environment as key factors driving our success.”

Connect with Jessica at our Spring Conference on May 2 in Concord or reach out to her by email at JKinsey@cirtronics.com!!

By Joseph Keef, President and CEO of Pax World Funds, NHBSR Member

Over the past several months, we have witnessed a parade of famous names linked to sexual harassment and assault scandals – Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Louis C.K., Mario Batali, Democratic Senator Al Franken, Republican Representative Trent Franks – and there are likely more to come.

We have also witnessed brave women coming forward and the meteoric rise of the #MeToo movement, Time Magazine bestowing “Person of the Year” honors for such bravery, and women in the entertainment industry launching “Time’s Up” to clean up showbiz.

This has all the markings of a turning point in the fight for gender equality.  If so, we should be careful not to focus exclusively on individual behavior – be it individual misconduct or individual bravery – such that we miss a larger lesson about organizational behavior and how institutions can build positive cultures where sexual harassment and violence are no longer tolerated.

There can be no doubt that male predatory behavior against women needs to be confronted and stopped.  However, while changing individual behavior is certainly part of the answer, it is not a sufficient answer because women will continue to be at risk unless and until we usher in larger changes.  These changes must take place at the organizational level so that workplaces – be they movie studios, network news rooms, corporate C-suites, factory floors or the Halls of Congress – are made safe.

By focusing on organizational behavior, I also think we can help people feel empowered to be part of the solution.

As the President of a financial services company, I am particularly optimistic that investors can be part of the solution, and that if we apply a gender lens when we invest, we can change organizational behavior and advance gender equality in the workplace.

How do we do this?  How do we change workplaces so that all employees, particularly women, are safe and secure, respected and listened to, empowered and advanced?

Culture and Governance

First, we need to understand that workplaces plagued by harassment and violence generally have two fundamental flaws: (1) poor cultures, and (2) poor governance.  Second, we need to understand that one key to building stronger cultures and better governance is embracing greater gender diversity in corporate leadership.

First, culture: A company’s culture encompasses its mission and values and includes not only the way employees are treated but the way they treat each other.  A culture that fosters mutual respect, tolerance, teamwork, diversity and inclusion, collaboration, innovation, and an abiding commitment not only to employees but to the larger community is a culture where sexual predation, harassment and violence are not tolerated.  Conversely, a culture where predation, harassment and violence do occur is a culture that is failing in fundamental ways.

Many things can be done to improve a company’s culture but one critical building block is a gender diverse leadership team – more women on the board and in senior management.  Numerous studies have shown that more women in corporate leadership is correlated with improved financial performance.1  But other good things happen too: greater transparency, collaboration and innovation; more robust dialogue, greater due diligence and improved decision making; better talent cultivation and retention; more effective risk mitigation and crisis management; improved ethical orientation and corporate social responsibility; and yes, positive changes in the behavior of men and better protection against sexual harassment.2

Simply put, ending sexual harassment requires a stronger, more positive workplace culture and the key to a better workplace culture is more women in leadership.

Second, governance: A company’s governance is essentially the system of rules, norms, policies and processes through which it operates, including effective oversight and accountability.  Where governance is strong, and oversight and accountability are taken seriously, sexual harassment and violence are less likely to occur.  Again, research suggests that governance is stronger where women are better represented on corporate boards, on key board committees, and in senior management.  Studies have shown that female directors have better attendance records than male directors, make board and committee monitoring more careful and exacting, and that boards with a critical mass of three or more women score higher on a range of organizational issues including leadership, accountability, innovation, motivation and work environment.3  When women are at the table the discussion is richer, the decision making process is better, management is more innovative and collaborative and the organization is stronger.

Eliminating sexual harassment and violence in the workplace requires strong cultures and strong governance, and these in turn are boosted by more women in the boardroom and more women in senior management.  Gender diversity may not be the only answer to eliminating workplace harassment and violence, but in my view it is the key answer.

Does anyone really believe that companies with all-male boards and male-dominated management teams will make the elimination of sexual harassment and violence top priorities?  The question answers itself.

Yet women only hold 24% of corporate board seats and 17% of senior management positions in the Year 2018!4

This needs to change – and this we CAN change.

Gender Lens Investing

Investors need to be the key constituency for promoting greater gender diversity on corporate boards and in the corporate C-suite.  After all, it is shareholders who own these companies, and corporate boards are supposed to represent the shareholders’ interests. If diverse leadership teams perform better than non-diverse leadership teams, as the research suggests, then it is in the shareholders’ interest and it is the board’s duty to embrace greater gender diversity.

So, who are these shareholders/investors I am talking about?

Well, you and me: together, we probably own shares in most major U.S. corporations, either through mutual funds, or our 401(k) Plan at work, or through our financial advisor.

And how can we, as investors, convince companies to embrace change?

It’s simple: By investing with a gender lens.

Gender lens investing, a fast-growing sector within the financial services industry, integrates gender concerns into investment decisions to yield positive financial returns and positive social outcomes for women.

My company has been part of the gender lens landscape from the beginning, and in 2014 we launched the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX), the first mutual fund to invest in the highest-rated companies in the world for advancing women through gender diversity on their boards and in executive management.  Of the companies in the Fund, 99% have two or more women on their board and 91% have three or more women on their board.  Women hold 35% of board seats and 29% of senior management positions among companies in the Fund, vs. global averages of 24% and 17%, respectively.5  In other words, the Fund provides the opportunity to invest in companies that are global leaders in advancing women, and on the front lines of battling harassment, violence and inequality.

Other companies are beginning to offer gender lens strategies as well.  Recent papers by Veris Wealth Partners and the Wharton School Social Impact Initiative describe the landscape of gender lens investing, including various funds available to invest in as well as how these strategies can potentially improve the lives of women.6  A recent book, Gender Lens Investing, provides a smart summation of what is happening in the field. 7

As investors, we now have the opportunity – and a range of choices – if we want to invest in companies that support women and promote gender diversity.  By seizing this opportunity, we can not only support companies that are supporting women; we can also promote better cultures and better governance in corporate America, and make a genuine difference when it comes to sexual harassment and violence.

In fact, we can not only invest in companies that are advancing women, we can also put pressure on companies that aren’t doing enough.  A key element of gender lens investing is engaging with companies, encouraging them to do better.  For example, since 2010 my firm has voted its proxies against or withheld support from more than 1,100 corporate board slates due to insufficient gender diversity, and we then register our concerns by writing letters to the companies explaining why we opposed their board slates.  We also file shareholder resolutions asking companies to add more women to their boards.  As a founding member of the Thirty Percent Coalition, we have worked with other institutional investors to convince over 150 companies to add women to their boards.

We have also filed shareholder resolutions asking companies to conduct pay audits to determine if disparities exist between male and female employees.  We convinced Apple – the biggest company in the world – to take such steps and a shareholder resolution we filed with Oracle received a majority of votes from outside shareholders.

We even petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to require companies to disclose pay ratios between male and female employees.  While I don’t expect action on this petition under the current administration in Washington, I do believe that more disclosure and transparency will eventually incentivize companies to do more to close the wage gap.

The point is this: our investments can make a profound difference when it comes to promoting gender equality.

Time’s Up

So, would you rather be invested with companies that care about women’s issues and are working to advance women or do you invest through financial advisors or mutual funds that pay no heed to the urgent call for gender equality that is rippling across our nation and across the globe?  The choice is yours: you can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution.

And if Hollywood wants to be part of the solution, and Hollywood stars really want to say, “Time’s Up” when it comes to gender discrimination and violence, they can put their money where their mouth is – and where their values are – by changing the way they invest.  Believe me, their money, if invested with a gender lens, could make an enormous difference.

The choice is ours.  When it comes to ending discrimination against women and promoting gender equality, each of us – through our investments – really can become part of the solution.  It’s high time we did.  Time’s Up!

 

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