Green Line Series | Meet Michele Crim, New Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Portland, Oregon

Michele Crim Blog GraphicWe were thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about Michele Crim,  Portland’s new Chief Sustainability Officer, who now leads 40+ staff in the development and implementation of policies and programs focused on climate action, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and renewables, emerging mobility, green building, business assistance, and community outreach and engagement. She led the development of Portland’s award-winning Climate Action Plan (2015) and seeks to ensure Portland’s marginalized communities reap the benefits of those efforts. Check out what we learned and hear more at GoGreen Conference Portland next week on October 10th.

As the new Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Portland, what are some of your long and short-term goals?

We are in a time of tremendous change and there is an urgency to act that hasn’t really existed before. From climate change to racial justice, we are at a critical crossroads that means our collective work – public, private, non-profit, academia, advocacy – is more important than ever before. My short-term goals are to continue the important work we already have before us (as outlined in the Portland Plan, the Climate Action Plan and the Comprehensive Plan) and ensure we deliver on the commitments we’ve already made. In terms of mid and long-term goals, I’m eager to push hard on some of our seemingly impossible challenges. We no longer have the luxury of nibbling around the edges of some of the big stuff we know we need to tackle, from  our energy systems to addressing emissions from the goods and services we consume – and everything in between.

You will be a part of our Closing Plenary, where you will discuss how climate change impacts our generation. How do you see climate change and the economy as interrelated?

Portland’s early work on climate created opportunities for local companies to develop clean technology, innovative products and sustainability expertise that have since been exported around the world. Our local policies and programs and initiative from sustainable business leaders drove that demand. As Portland considers future policies and programs, we must be more intentional about driving economic opportunity. Special care and intention must be paid to ensuring that those opportunities extend deeply into those communities that have historically been left behind and not benefited from climate action, most especially communities of color and low-income populations.

What is an example of a policy that the City of Portland has enacted that integrates equity in its design?

Portland is known internationally for our work to integrate equity into the 2015 Climate Action Plan. From high level vision setting, to specific actions and policies, that plan was greatly informed by the perspectives and expertise of Portland’s frontline communities. That work built the capacity of our staff and community members to understand the linkages between equity and climate action. However, it didn’t go far enough. The City of Portland and Multnomah County will be updating the Climate Action Plan in 2020. To go farther we won’t be looking to our frontline communities to simply inform our work. Instead, we’ll invite them to be collaborators in the design. The design community describes this as co-creation. It will require us to build new skills and mindsets as designers, and create structural and institutional changes in order to be successful.

For more information about join us at GoGreen Conference – Portland on October 10th, 2018. Visit portland.gogreenconference.net for more information and to purchase tickets.

Advertisements

Keynote Preview with Governor Jay Inslee

Governor Jay Inslee from the state of Washington will kick off the 2018 GoGreen Conference with an Opening Keynote Address, speaking to the imperative of local and state governments in the fight against climate change.

Here is a preview of what we can expect:

There has been a lack of climate action on a federal level with the current administration. As Governor of Washington, you’ve been an outspoken advocate for environmental progress and climate commitment.

Why do you feel it is an imperative to act on climate change without the support of the federal government?

governorOur region has a long history of environmental leadership. If the federal government fails to take action, it is imperative that the states step up and act. We cannot stand idly by while the federal government does nothing, or worse puts policies in place that have a harmful and long lasting effects.

When the Trump Administration announced its intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, it was crucial to deliver the message to the world that the U.S. was still in for the fight against climate change. We must have a wide collection of U.S. voices stand in as the collective, representative voice of U.S. action on climate.

Washington state has been working with California, Oregon and British Columbia for a decade through the Pacific Coast Collaborative to ensure a united front in the fight against climate change. Last year, I joined forces with California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to launch the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states dedicated to the goals of the Paris Agreement, which is now 17 governors strong.

The Climate Alliance is committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

Together, the states are leading the way toward a more sustainable future for us all.


Register to join us April 4 at the GoGreen Conference! Tickets available at the door, or visit gogreenconference.net/registration.

Green Line Series Interview | 2018 Keynote Speaker, Brenna Davis

BrennaDavis

Brenna Davis | Vice President, Social & Environmental Responsibility, PCC Markets

We are excited to welcome Brenna Davis, Vice President of Social & Environmental Responsibility at PCC Markets, as our closing Keynote speaker at the 2018 GoGreen Conference on April 4. Brenna leads PCC’s strategic initiatives related to sustainability, supply chain quality and community engagement. Prior to joining PCC, she worked for 20 years advising businesses on sustainability in a variety of roles.

Brenna shared with us some of her insights from her long career working in sustainability, and some of the takeaways we can expect from her talk.


This year’s GoGreen conference is focused on the Climate Commitment Leadership Imperative. How has PCC Community Markets worked to take responsibility on climate action in the absence of federal intervention?

It’s wonderful to see GoGreen have that focus this year. It’s more important than ever for businesses to take the lead on climate.  PCC has been leading on environmental issues for decades, so this is not new to us.  We built the first LEED Gold grocery store in the country, and have been tracking our carbon footprint for over a decade.  Our organic supply chain itself is a climate change initiative – we know that well-managed soils sequester more carbon.

As a sustainability professional, what drew you to work at the PCC? How are food, community, and sustainability related?

I love PCC. As a kid, my mom used to take me there to shop, so I have fond memories of growing up in PCC.  We are local and community owned.  We are a triple bottom line organization, and that approach is integral to everything we do.  And that commitment is not new, but one that has been living and breathing in our stores for years.  Good food does good – it protects the ecosystems that we depend on for life and builds sustainable communities.

What is one of your goals or initiatives for PCC related to sustainability?

Our quality standards are the crowning achievement of our work in sustainability.  We vet the food before we put it on our shelves so shoppers don’t have to.  Our standards range from animal welfare to sustainable packaging.  And we are continuing to improve them day in and day out.  Another emerging initiative is our recent commitment to 100% renewable energy – which challenging to accomplish. We truly never rest!

What is one take away you hope to leave attendees after your Keynote address at this year’s GoGreen conference?

There are many iconic brands in the Pacific Northwest, and together the business community has achieved so much to protect the environment for future generations.  PCC isn’t shy about speaking out on issues, and moving our supply chain towards greater social and environmental responsibility.  My talk will focus on our deep and very exciting history of brand activism – from our humble beginnings in a Seattle garage in the 1950s to having some of the strongest supply chain standards in the country.  It’s been an exciting road.


You can join us to hear Brenna give the closing keynote address at the GoGreen Conference April 4 by registering here.

Green Line Series Interview | Serilda Summers-McGee

Serilda Summers-McGee HeadshotSerilda Summers-McGee is the Owner of Workplace Change, LLC, a company that exists to help organizations assess their workplace culture, creatively resolve identified workplace challenges, recruit under-represented executives and staff, and retain high quality employees in an inclusive, positive, and high functioning work environment.

She is also the author of the book Change the Workgame: Building and Sustaining a Diverse Workforce, which instructs readers on the best and worst practices of recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce through the use of case studies from Serilda’s consulting experiences.

Serilda will be leading the Value of a Diverse Workforce workshop at this year’s GoGreen Conference on April 4 and shared with us some of her takeaways.


GoGreen: The terms ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ have become quite cliche in today’s work environment. What does ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ mean to you?

Serilda: Diversity is about the “who”- who are you allowing to have access to your organization. Inclusion is the “how”- how are they treated once they get there.

The reason why it is cliche, and why we need to unpack it, is that organizations tend to tokenize the “who”, saying they need one or two of a particular group. They are focused on whatever group they feel the most guilty about- black people, Latino people, disabled people, etc.

They aren’t talking about changing a system, a system that lends itself to people not having access. They are talking about placing one or two people in their organization for aesthetic purposes. That is not the essence of diversity and inclusion, but instead dilutes the purpose and intentionality behind the terminology for why it was originally created. We need to have an environment where people from underrepresented backgrounds can actually thrive, be exactly who they are, and bring all that beauty to the table to create more beauty when aggregated with people from other walks of life.

GoGreen: Why should Diversity and Inclusion matter to businesses when hiring?

Serilda:  There are a ton of studies, proposals, and presentations about how diversity and inclusion strengthen your bottom line. That’s a very capitalistic, self-centered, and selfish stance to have on why it is in the best interest of a leader to have an inclusive environment.

It’s true, their business will thrive. But it is also in their best interest because it is the right thing to do. Today in the Trump era, humanities is an after thought. But for me, I’m in this work because I see the way people are hurt in their workplace and they come home and they are not the best mother or partner they can be. Stress, anxiety, anger and resentment manifest themselves in very physical ways. So, business people should care because diversity and inclusion create a healthy environment for people to prosper.

Managers and leaders should care because it is human nature to take direction from the people in power. If the CEO doesn’t care, you won’t care, and it is a vicious cycle of hurting people. And by the way it also helps your bottom line. But if that’s all you care about you’ll never fix the challenges in the workplace.

People bring the best versions of themselves to the workplace when they are happy and if you don’t have a supportive work environment and you have an exclusive work environment, people who are not part of the majority will not be the best versions of themselves. And that can hurt productivity. But it is bigger than that.

GoGreen: Can you speak to the intersections of Diversity in the workplace and sustainability? How can diversity support your bottom line?

Serilda:  I will always pivot away from the discussion of capitalization of underrepresented people. This is controversial, but I’ve been saying it and I’ll continue to say it: the commodification of underrepresented folks, predominately black and latino people, could be equated to slavery. It’s just like saying “how can slaves make your business more sustainable?” You aren’t talking about them as a person and creating an environment for them to thrive in. It is the same argument that was made for why slavery should have been sustained. It was all about business, profitability and capitalism.

The whole bottom line narrative is very loaded and very problematic. A lot of people are jumping on the diversity bandwagon and bringing on people of color and women but treating them  like crap when they get there. We tell them that they are there to help them grow the business, but they don’t get a voice. The moment they actually have a voice and are articulating the challenges that exist is the moment they are kicked out. The white leadership get afraid because they moved into the diversity realm from a position that it is going to benefit the bottom line and not from a humanistic perspective. It is based entirely on self-interest and capitalistic in nature. And capitalism is about exploitation. But sure, diversity will sustain your business, but only if you treat people properly once they are there.

GoGreen:  That is an interesting point, which brings up the question of how can we get business owners to care about diversifying their workforce not to benefit their bottom line, but because it is the right thing to do?

The right-thing-to-do argument will fall on deaf ears because business owners generally have bought into the American dream and capitalism. My objective is to enlighten and open people’s minds to what is going on inside their organizations. I want to go beyond the bottom line and talk about how people are treated once they are in the system. We need to stop treating people as a commodity.

People will do better if they knew better. Once people are aware, they have the choice of whether they want to extract and exploit, or include and invite and then capitalize on the beauty that they create.

GoGreen:  Your workshop at GoGreen will be discussing how to change the status-quo. What are some challenges that you anticipate business leaders will face when Diversifying their workforce?

Serilda: There are two arguments for the challenges of diversifying the workplace: “I can’t keep them”, or “I can’t find them”. It is hard for me to believe that someone can create a business from concept to completion, but can’t find minorities for your workforce. I think that is hogwash – it just means you aren’t passionate about it. You need to go out there and do the work.

I will be making these points at the conference, but also I’ll be providing tools for your toolbelt on how to get you there, along with some inspiration. I know that people care, and I know we get there. If you are brilliant enough to start a business, you are brilliant enough to solve this problem. You can figure out how everyone can be treated with the same amount of respect and integrity that the predominate community gets treated.


To hear more from Serilda Summers-Mcgee, join us for The Value of a Diverse Workforce: Change and Activate Your Company Culture at the GoGreen Conference on April 4. Register here.

Green Line Series Interview | Suzanne Fallender, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Intel Corporation

Keynotes As Director of Corporate Responsibility at Intel Corporation, Suzanne Fallender collaborates with stakeholders across the company to integrate CSR concepts into strategies, policies, public reporting, and engagement to create positive social impact and business value.

For our Green Line Interview Series, Suzanne shared with us some of the important work happening at Intel to advance CSR and sustainability. She will be presenting the opening keynote address at GoGreen Conference- Portland on October 17.


What does CSR (corporate social responsibility) mean to Intel and why it is important?

At Intel, we view CSR as a business approach that creates value for both Intel and society. For decades, we have worked to integrate CSR practices into our business and we have set ambitious goals to help us continue to reduce our environmental footprint, protect vulnerable workers in our supply chain, advance diversity and inclusive business practices, and empower people through technology and our social impact initiatives.

For us, having a strategic focus on CSR has helped us to leverage our technology and expertise to have a positive impact on the world and the communities where we operate. Importantly, it also has resulted in us managing our business better by helping us to further mitigate risks, reduce costs, build brand value and identify new market opportunities.

Does Intel have diversity and inclusion goals?

Yes, I’m personally very proud of the work we are doing in the area of diversity and inclusion. After many years of reporting on and investing in our diversity practices, we set a bold goal in 2015 to accelerate progress and be the first high-tech company to reach full representation of women and underrepresented minorities in our U.S. workforce by 2020. We committed $300 million to support this goal and advance diversity and inclusion across the technology industry. We just released our latest diversity report and are making good progress toward our goal— we now expect to meet our goal in 2018—two years ahead of schedule. We also have a supplier diversity goal to increase our spending with diverse suppliers to $1 billion by 2020, and we launched the Intel Capital Diversity Fund, the world’s largest venture capital fund focused on diverse entrepreneurs.

But one of the most important things we can do is advance system-level change by working with others to build new career pathways into the industry and empower youth through technology. Through a five-year, $5 million investment with Oakland Unified School District, we are helping both improve computer science and engineering programs at Oakland Tech and McClymonds high schools. We are already seeing strong results two years into the program. There has been a 14x increase in enrollment in computer science classes. And through our Intel® Innovation Generation initiative, we are working with partner organizations around the world to provide under served youth with access to hands-on technology experiences and training, enabling the next generation to acquire the skills needed to succeed in the digital economy.

What are you doing to engage employees in your sustainability and CSR strategies?

We recognize the critical role that our employees play in helping us meet our goals. Our approach to employee engagement on sustainability and CSR issues includes three main components: Learn, Act, Share. In terms of “learn,” we educate and engage our employees in discussions about our sustainability and CSR goals and our performance, helping them to integrate these concepts into their daily work across many different departments and functions. We have a regular sustainability speaker series covering a range of CSR topics and annually we provide a CSR update which includes a progress update towards our goals. Through our internal news channels, we share CSR content throughout the year. For “act”, we provide opportunities for employees to take action.  Through our Intel Involved volunteer program, employees gave back 1.2 million hours of volunteer hours last year around the world, including more than 296,000 hours in Oregon. And for “share”, we work to highlight employee contributions and innovative ideas and help them to share those stories with other employees, and with members of our local communities via social media, including our CSR@Intel blog and @intelinvolved Twitter handle.

What advice can you give to other companies to integrate CSR into their organizations?   

The most important place to start is understanding your own organization and its purpose. What are the specific risks and opportunities that sustainability and CSR factors present for the type of organization you are running and its size and scope? Based on that – identify which people within your organization have the greatest ability to impact those factors and start bringing them together for conversations.

One of the most effective strategies is building the business case early on – how will new strategies not only reduce environmental impact, but will also generate cost savings? How can products that incorporate sustainable design help you to meet new customer expectations and needs? And on the employee engagement front – find ways to include employees early on in the journey by having them generate ideas and then provide ongoing support and recognition/rewards for their achievements. We have seen great success over the years with programs that encourage employees to submit project ideas for funding, such as our Intel Seed Grant Program. And each year we recognize employees who make significant contributions to our sustainability practices through our Intel Environmental Excellence Awards; last year’s employee projects helped save 263 million gallons of water, 55.5 million Khw of energy, and $25.7 million in cost savings. And since 2008, we have linked a portion of every employee’s pay to achievement of our CSR goals.

Where do you see CSR and sustainability in 5 and 10 years? 

If I first look back 5-10 years, the biggest change I see now is a dramatic increase in the level of awareness, integration, and alignment with business objectives. CSR and sustainability really used to be treated separately from the core business – and now we see CEOs, large institutional investors and industry associations talking about how these issues connect to business and shareholder value.

What I expect we will continue to see moving forward is a greater understanding of how integrating CSR into your business can help you run your business better over the long term, and also more discussion about the best methods to effectively measure and quantify that impact. I think it’s an incredibly exciting time to be working on CSR and sustainability issues – there is a growing opportunity and urgency to bring more organizations into the discussion and collectively work together to advance progress.


For more information about Intel’s approach to CSR and sustainability, visit www.intel.com/responsibility. To see the entire program and purchase tickets to GoGreen Conference – Portland, visit portland.gogreenconference.net.

Green Line Series Interview | Marcelo Bonta, Philanthropy Northwest Momentum Fellow, Meyer Memorial Trust

marcelo bonta 1Marcelo Bonta is a trailblazer on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the environmental movement. He is currently the Philanthropy Northwest Environmental Fellow at Meyer Memorial Trust, where he is helping to develop and implement a new environmental program with equity at its foundation. Marcelo also is the founder of the Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE) and the Environmental Professionals of Color (EPOC).

Marcelo will be sharing his perspective on our community’s victories and challenges in sustainability over the last 10 years in GoGreen’s opening plenary entitled Driving Forward: A 10-Year Retrospective with Portland’s Sustainable Business Leaders.


GoGreen: When you think back on the last 10 years, what do you think of as the biggest win for our community in terms of sustainability?

Marcelo: The biggest win is that equity is becoming a core component of sustainability. Sustainability would not have survived for the long term without equity.

Here are some reasons why equity is so important:

  1. Demographics have shifted and will continue to shift as we are becoming a more racially diverse society.  Our nation will be over 50% people of color within the next 25 years.    
  2. Communities of color and low-income communities contribute least to climate change and environmental degradation but are most impacted.
  3. Polls and surveys demonstrate that communities of color support sustainability, climate change solutions, and environmental protection at higher rates than whites.

Therefore, it only makes sense that communities of color are front and center in any sustainability decision-making tables.

While we have made substantial gains, we still have a long way to go to fully integrate equity and sustainability.  I am looking forward to participating in this powerful evolution over the next ten years.

GoGreen: When it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion, what do you see as our biggest opportunity for growth going forward?

Marcelo:  Communities of color have the most to lose and the most to gain when it comes to climate change impacts and environmental degradation. We have a great opportunity now to build environmental capacity for people of color-led organizations and to follow the lead of communities of color.

Secondly, we can work towards building diversity, equity, and inclusion capacity of sustainability organizations. When these capacities are built, both camps will be more effective at partnering together and building powerful coalitions.

GoGreen: What are some of the ways that the Meyer Memorial Trust is working with local organizations and communities in Oregon to advance equity in the workplace?

Marcelo: Meyer recognizes organizations that are advancing equity and supports them by  investing in their growth.  One way Meyer does this is by providing resources to organizations to build diversity, equity, and inclusion capacity.

Meyer is also on its own equity journey, so it is doing this work in partnership. The hope is a permanent cultural shift towards equity, so that Meyer can achieve its vision of “a flourishing and equitable Oregon.”

GoGreen:  What is one takeaway that you’d like local business leaders to get from the plenary that you’ll be taking part in at the GoGreen Conference on October 17?

Marcelo: Equity and inclusion is core to sustainability work and needs to be fully integrated.  If not, the sustainability movement will fail.  If we do, the sky’s the limit in what will be achieved and how much influence sustainability will have in all aspects of society.

As the population of people of color continues to grow, so does its buying power.  According to Statista, the U.S. Latino buying power is $2.7 Trillion in 2017. What it comes down to is equity is smart business.


The Meyer Trust works with and invest in organizations, communities, ideas and efforts that contribute to a flourishing and equitable Oregon. Find out more about what they do at https://mmt.org/.

Event Details: The GoGreen Portland Conference will take place Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at the Gerding Theater (Portland Center Stage). Tickets are available at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503.226.2377.

GoGreen Conference Receives 2017 Travel Portland Sustainability Award

At the 2017 Travel Portland Awards Breakfast this morning, GoGreen Conference was recognized for outstanding work in building programs that enhance Oregon’s exceptional quality of life and strengthening Portland and Oregon’s leadership in sustainability.

TP_Award.jpg

Ericka Dickey-Nelson, Founder and President of GoGreen Conference, was on hand to accept the award among government representatives, business leaders and community members working to make Portland a better place and a highly sought after international destination.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our 10 years of work driving sustainable business practices forward in our regional community”, said Ericka Dickey-Nelson, Founder and President of GoGreen Conference. “Portland, Oregon has long been recognized as a global leader in sustainable practices and our annual conference puts the spotlight on the exciting innovative practices starting here in this city.”

The award comes at a particularly exciting time as this year marks the 10th anniversary GoGreen Conference, which will take place October 17, 2017 at the Gerding Theater (home of Portland Center Stage) in Portland, Oregon. The mission of the conference is to drive sustainable best practices in organizations, and facilitate collaboration with regional innovators, entrepreneurs and sustainability champions who will share their stories and reinforce the ultimate goal of increasing sustainability in business to create a healthier company, economy and climate.


Attend GoGreen Portland 2017

GoGreen Portland 2017, brought to you by the City of Portland and Prosper Portland, will take place on Tuesday, October 17 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory (Portland Center Stage), located at 128 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209. Tickets are available online at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503.226.2377.