What sustainability means to your company’s products

There has never been a concept more overloaded than “Green”.  The confusion and frustration that can result from a green discussion resemble the emotional toll of the words “cloud”, “disruption” and “love” combined.

Last week, I attended a Dell Community Advisory Panel (CAP) which focused on sustainability. Imagine Dell execs, industry green gurus and select customers in a room for a day all focused on answering two questions:

–          Where is the green innovation happening in other industries?

–          How can Dell help our customers succeed in this innovation?

These conversations are extremely relevant to OEM customers who are developing products of their own because many of your end customers care about green innovation.  Therefore I’ve put together a three-part blog series to highlight a few key takeaways from the event:

  1. What is sustainability?
  2. Creating and analyzing a holistic view of your sustainability
  3. Linking impacts to business drivers

What is sustainability and who defines it?

Much like a good performance review, it has two aspects: compliance and ethics.  The ethics are what guide your company, and compliance is about ensuring your company delivers.  This is a much broader definition of sustainability than ‘carbon footprint’; it includes ethical labor practices, environmental toxicity, and other factors that are currently hard to link to quarterly results (barring horrible PR).

At Dell, most of our sustainability practices have been the result of bottoms up change.  This is precisely what the green gurus mentioned in a slightly different way; the consensus was that Dell’s actions were speaking much louder than the PR blessed words, and as a result, the green community has become more engaged in Dell’s success.

Take away: Think lean.  If your company is not rewarding your employees who drive the right changes, you are probably missing out on the biggest source of innovation, as there is so much low hanging fruit in this space.

What are your thoughts around sustainability?  Also, stay tuned to my next blog around creating and analyzing a holistic view of your sustainability.

Follow me on twitter for more OEM relavant conversation as well as read more about sustainability programs from David Lear, Dell Executive Director—Sustainability.

About the Author: Josh Neland