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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.

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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 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 Diversifying Your Workforce workshop at this year’s GoGreen Conference on October 17. She shared with us some of her best practice takeaways from her upcoming workshop.


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 Diversifying Your Workforce: A Workshop to Take Inventory and Define Your Approach to Disrupt the Status Quo at the GoGreen Conference on October 17. Register here.

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.

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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.  

Green Line Series Interview | Gwen Migita, VP Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship, Caesars Entertainment

Gwen Migita HeadshotGwen Migita drives sustainability strategy, policies and stakeholder initiatives as well as social and environmental sustainability programs for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment company which holds environmental stewardship as one of its four pillars of commitment.

She sat down with us for our Green Line Series interview this week in anticipation of her closing Keynote at the GoGreen Conference on March 16.


We were pleased to learn that Caesars Entertainment provides economic and social benefits for employees, guests and communities while also advancing environmental stewardship. How is Caesars currently advancing environmental stewardship as a large corporation?

Environmental stewardship has been built into our properties from top to bottom through CodeGreen, our company-wide environmental strategy. For our guests, CodeGreen quietly contributes to enhancing the experience by working hard in the background. Essentially we take care of the environment behind the scenes for our guests, reinforcing that every visit to a Caesars property is a sustainable visit.

We have set aggressive goals in energy, GHG emissions reduction, water and green construction. We’ve been recognized for our efforts and we’ve met a number of our goals ahead of target. For example, we reduced energy use 23.4 % per air-conditioned square foot since 2007. We have an overall U.S. waste diversion of 38% and reduced 28% in waste volume in 2015. We reduced GHG emissions by 28.3% per 1,000 sq/ft of air conditioned space, reduced water usage by 20.4% on a square foot basis since 2008, and began an initiative to replace every light source with efficient LED bulbs in 2015.

We also encourage our employees to “go green” at home. Through CodeGreen At Home, employees are rewarded for their efforts to spread the environmental consciousness learned at Caesars to their homes and communities. The program emphasizes long-term behavior changes to reduce the carbon footprint and make a positive environmental impact. In 2015, employees were awarded an average of $60 in program incentives for completing eco-conscious actions at home. Since inception, Caesars has awarded nearly $180,00 in Total Return credits to employees for sharing CodeGreen At Home projects.

Can you give us some examples where Caesars provides economic and social benefits for communities? What is your proudest achievement on that front?

We encourage employees to take an active role in their communities. Our employee community involvement (HERO) teams at each of our resorts volunteer their time, expertise, creativity and passion to improve people’s lives.

The HERO employee volunteer program was formalized more than 20 years ago and supports our employee community involvement strategic priorities: two-thirds of all programs support seniors, education, environment and health and wellness, while one-third supports the property’s priority impact area(s).

Every one of our 50 properties in the North America and the U.K. has a HERO program and a means to support company-sponsored or individual activities. We reward and incentivize employees to volunteer on an individual and property-wide basis through our year-round challenges and the HERO Stars program.

Every time we open a new property, we look for opportunities to use our passion, skills and resources to help the local community.

Together with families and friends, Caesars team members and team members of affiliated businesses reported over 400,000 volunteer hours to support community causes, many of which are also backed by philanthropic giving through the Caesars Foundation. That’s the equivalent of almost 200 full time employees dedicating their entire working hours to supporting vibrant communities for one year.

We help local communities flourish through economic contributions by taxes we pay, the jobs we create and the suppliers with whom we engage. For every dollar the average U.S. corporation pays in taxes, Caesars pays more than three dollars. This injection of funds enables local communities to enjoy a range of diverse benefits, including support for schools and universities, cultural programs, tourism, and elderly and disabled assistance programs.

What new initiatives and milestones in these areas for 2017? Any exciting developments we can learn about via your address at GoGreen?

We ensure that our meeting facilities offer our customers everything they need to make their events responsible and sustainable through our Responsible Meetings program. To date, we have trained 350 meeting sales and banquet managers throughout our North American properties. Launched last year, our Meetings for Good initiative provides a menu of community-service choices at our venues in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Atlantic City. Meetings for Good facilitates community involvement with local nonprofit organizations in a range of options that can easily be incorporated into any meeting or event. We have found that our customers seek more of this kind of service to make meetings more meaningful and provide a new, engaging experience for their delegates and guests.

Last year, Caesars asked key suppliers representing the largest portion of our supply chain’s carbon footprint to privately respond to the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) survey about their climate impacts. We received 54 complete supplier responses to CDP this year. Of these, 71% of our suppliers responding to CDP’s survey said Caesars was their first (and only) customer to ask them to fill out the CDP survey. We are proud to be helping them move the needle on understanding their own climate impacts while helping us to understand our supply chain’s footprint.

What’s more, Caesars is leading the way in hospitality as the only gaming/entertainment company represented in the CDP supply chain program of more than 75 member companies. We look forward to the industry building more robust climate metrics in their supply chain working with nonprofits like CDP.


Join us at the GoGreen Conference to hear Gwen present the closing Keynote on March 16.

Event Details: The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

Green Line Series Interview | Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle and King County

Ngozi Oleru Headshot.jpgOur Green Line Series interview this week features Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle and King County. She is responsible for leading and managing the environmental health programs serving a population of over 2 million residents and has been instrumental in bringing a public health and equity focus to the impacts of the built environment both locally and nationally in policy and programmatic roles.

Ngozi will be a featured speaker at the GoGreen Conference session on March 16th entitled Building Healthcare and Business Climate Resilience.


You have been working on health equity for ten years now. Why is health equity important?

The question shouldn’t be why is health equity important, it should be why ISN’T health equity important. Equity should be the norm. Equity is where/how/when everyone gets to participate in life with full access to opportunities and consequences that are distributed not necessarily equally, but equitably. Does everybody need to be the president of a university? No. Does everyone need to be an engineer? No. But everyone should have access to the opportunities for health and well-being to do whatever it is they are called to do. That’s why it is important.

What are some public health policy changes that have been made in the last few years to advance health equity?

A fundamental change has been the adoption of a social determinants approach to health policy; the adoption an upstream, root-cause approach to public health. Are we there yet? No, but that shift has really brought into focus the idea that the definition of health is not just the absence of disease. Most people think of health from a disease/medical model. The shift of looking at health from the social determinants approach has been a real fundamental change which has brought us to the consideration of health equity in a more intentional and hopefully more sustainable way.

How are you creating and increasing health equity in King County? What are some initiatives the Environmental Health Division is working on now?

In 2006/2007, through a planning process, our department adopted the guiding principles: Based on Science and Evidence; Centered on Community; Driven by Social Justice; and Focused on Prevention to guide our practice. As a result, we are trying to be more intentional in the way we are engaging with the community in designing both the policies and programs.

For example, we just launched a new food safety rating system in King County. We made sure to engage limited-English and diverse food cultural groups so we could take into consideration how this new rating system would affect them and their businesses. As a result I think we got a better and more inclusive outcome.

We are also making very intentional efforts to hire for diversity so that the people in our community are reflected in our workforce. It is important that the perspectives that are brought to the table are as diverse as the people who are being served by our programs and impacted by our policies.

For me, the focus on diversifying the workforce, the focus on engaging the community in an intentional meaningful way are two very substantive efforts that are necessary as we work towards health equity.

What are a few things that government agencies and businesses can do to eliminate preventable and unjust differences for people of color and low-income populations?

There is a basic need for people in Government agencies and businesses to understand how structures and systems that prevent and deny access to certain groups of people have been built into our institutions. Understanding that historical context will go a long way to accelerate the dismantling of barriers to opportunity.

Policies about who we hire- how we define who qualifies and who doesn’t qualify for a job- don’t often allow everybody to participate. If a variety of perspectives are engaged when jobs are defined and described, we can take a step towards chipping away at a system that is not equitably accessible to all groups of people.

In King County we have an ordinance that directs our work through an equity and social justice lens. We provided training for our employees to understand what that means and what it looks like. It is imperative to understand the history of where inequity came from. It takes an examination of the way we’ve been doing business. It’s a mindset, a new mindset to depart from business as usual and a willingness to make meaningful change.


The Environmental Health Services department of Seattle and King County focuses on the prevention of disease through sanitation, safe food and water, proper disposal of wastes and toxins, and promoting safe and healthy environmental conditions throughout King County. You can find out more about the Environmental Health Services department on their website.

Event Details: The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

Interview with Richard Eidlin | Co-Founder, American Sustainable Business Council

Richard Eidlin Headshot.JPGThis past week we had the opportunity to sit down for a Green Line Series interview with Richard Eidlin, Co-Founder and Vice President, Policy and Campaigns for the American Sustainable Business Council.

Richard has worked for 30 years on sustainability, social entrepreneurship, policy, and CSR in the public and private sector. We are thrilled to learn more from Richard in person as a featured speaker and expert at the GoGreen Conference Closing Plenary on March 16th: The Role of Business in Climate and Clean Energy Policy.


You have been a business advocate for a sustainable economy under the Obama administration over the last several years. What are the biggest challenges you overcame in the past year?

One challenge was educating the media that there are a variety of opinions within the business community about what success looks like. We have mobilized thousands of companies who are triple bottom line, or what you might call responsible or sustainable firms, to weigh in on a variety of policy issues. We try to show the media that there are a lot of very successful companies who are making money and are also environmental stewards, paying people well and also paying their fair share of taxes. So challenge number one has been convincing the media by example that the traditional narrative that it’s either clean a environment or jobs is false and you can instead you can do both at the same time.

The second challenge has been working with legislators, both on the federal and state level, and educating them on that same dynamic.  We have been pointing out that certain policies don’t evenly affect all segments of society or businesses the same, and that often policies are enacted that inhibit progress in the part of responsibly sustainable companies. Those are two of the challenges we face.

What were some of the ASBC’s key accomplishments during that time?

I would cite the success we’ve had across the country on improving benefits for employees and workers through the passage of minimum wage increases in a number of states. That has been more successful on a state level than a federal level, but we did succeed in encouraging President Obama to raise the minimum wage rate for contract workers to $10.10. That was the second bit of success on that issue.

Another success has been working with BLab when they first started to get benefit corporation legislation passed in over two dozen states across the country. We were quite active in that campaign.

The third has been a lot of work we’ve done around climate change and the idea that a carbon tax has an important role to play negating the use of fossil fuels. We’ve been addressing the risk that business and society faces from climate change, so we’ve been working with a number of states and the federal government and were able to get both Republicans and Democrats to look at the merit of a carbon tax. We didn’t get any legislation passed, but we did succeed at least in broadening the conversation.

We also have been involved with a number of initiatives on safer chemicals and disclosure on what’s in chemicals that consumers use. I work with the EPA on a number of those issues.

Another example would be helping to promote net neutrality, wherein there is the same price for access to the internet. That was an important issue for a lot of small businesses.

Through the Jobs Act in 2010, we were able to help create some rules that led to the development of crowd funding platforms that were widespread in allowing individual small investors take a piece of companies as they grow.

The last issue looks at this whole suite of what your might call “high road workplace practices”, or “family friendly benefits”, family medical leave and paid sick leave etc, and made a lot of success at the state level. We really raised the bar and made it an important conversation, making the business case that those kind of practices create success in the workplace and are actually good for the economy.

The political landscape will undoubtedly look very different with the upcoming administration. How do you anticipate your role changing in the next four years?

We will look to collaborate with Congress and the Trump administration, and really find alignment. On issues where there isn’t compatibility, we will defend the progress that our constituency has made and argue for a different perspective. It will be somewhat on a case by case basis. Over the past several weeks we have weighed in on some of the nominations that the incoming administration has made and also have been meeting with members of Congress and will continue to do that.

There are a few issues where we think there may be opportunities for collaboration, like with the idea of having more workers own a piece of the company they work in through employee stock owned plans or co-ops. There may be some synergy around infrastructure, but we’ll have to see.

There are lots of issues, particularly around environmental and energy issues, where we are not optimistic. We are concerned that the rollback of regulations, the retreat from our international commitments, doing away with water quality, chemical safety and air quality regulations are all a really bad idea. We are going to be working on that. We will be really involved in what’s going on in D.C., while at the same time devoting some energy on what’s happening on the state level. We will target some states where we think more progress can be made than in Washington.

We are excited about learning your perspective on the role of business in climate and clean energy policy at GoGreen Conference in March. What are the key takeaways/action items that you want our private and public sector decision makers to walk away with?

The states are really important. In the Northwest there is a lot of opportunity for addressing climate change. A cap in trade or a carbon tax are really important initiatives for states that we want states to pursue, and the business community is a critical voice in that process. Sustainably-minded companies really need to step up and their views heard because if they don’t, the rules and policies that get written are not going to be aligned with their values.

At the same time, we think it is important for companies to take their own steps in becoming more energy-efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. We are looking for companies to advocate for the maintenance of certain good ideas on a policy level. We are also interested in electric vehicles and building out a smarter grid in this country. Energy efficiency is another concern. All of these issues are important to many small businesses and large companies, so we will potentially call on companies to get involved and to recognize that there are a lot of good jobs that have been created. We are undergoing a major transition in this economy, and to remain dependent on the fossil fuel industry without appropriate investment in clean energy is extremely short-sighted and puts the US at a competitive disadvantage.


The American Sustainable Business Council is a network of businesses and business associations that have committed themselves to the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit.  ASBC members believe that sustainable business is good business, and a sustainable economy is a prosperous and resilient one. Find out more about the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) on their website.

The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.