What do you think of when you hear Deloitte?

You might think of a professional services firm or Big Four auditor. Today, the company has also put a big green stake in the ground, both looking internally to green its operations and as an offering in its consulting practice.

Two aspects of this work are worth noting: Deloitte’s internal green team, working to engage employees in sustainability, and its Green Sync™ tool.

I had the chance to have an e-mail exchange with Thomas Dekar, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP, regional managing principal of the North Central Region and corporate responsibility officer for the Deloitte U.S. Firms. He shed some light on the origins of Deloitte’s programs and offerings.

Read on to learn about Deloitte’s best green business practices for engaging employees in sustainability.

And if you have best practices of your own to add, please chime in.

Internal green team

In January 2008, a Green Champion was selected, and green teams were formed, in each office.  An Office Greening Toolkit, with projects covering the key aspects of sustainability, was distributed, and shortly thereafter, a “How green is your footprint?™” survey was made available. The Green Leadership Council (GLC) was established in August 2008 as a voice for employees to help shape national programs.

The GLC is composed of senior representatives from each of the eight regions in the US and India as well as representatives from Talent, Community Involvement, Field Operations, Information Technology and the Enterprise Sustainability group. The council maintains a constant dialogue between national leadership and people on the ground in offices across the country.

The GLC’s broad role is to assist in implementing a sustainable green culture at Deloitte, develop and share green ideas across regions, participate in the development of greening goals, track and monitor performance in implementing ideas and achieving greening goals, and identify and address challenges and opportunities related to greening Deloitte.

The biggest wins and best green practices

“The most important factor in our success has been the widespread engagement and participation of our people. We believe this has come about in large measure from our approach to greening at Deloitte,” explained Dekar.

He outlined six key characteristics of the program:

  • Opt-in:  The green programs operate on an opt-in basis, because Deloitte recognizes that making responsible decisions can’t be forced; people have to want to be “green.”
  • Focus on raising awareness and education:  Much of the focus has been on communication that generates awareness and education regarding the impact the company makes on the environment.
  • Empower at the local level: Green Teams empower greening at the local level. The national office provides direction, materials and support, but sustainability is ultimately local and in the hands of its people.
  • Small changes can make an impact:  “We place emphasis on the importance of everyone’s individual actions; and offer the perspective that small changes when multiplied by the 45,000 people of Deloitte can result in a huge impact. Consistent with that approach, through the green footprint surveys we focus on the positive aspect of increasing a green footprint by being more environmentally responsible,” commented Dekar.  Thus far, 29,000 people have taken the office footprint survey.
  • Transparency:  He continued, “Another strategy is to be open and transparent about the progress of our offices in completing the 50 greening projects contained in the greening toolkits. This encourages friendly competition among office and regions. An interactive GreenDot Scorecard available to all was created to publicize results covering over 100 locations.”
  • Collaboration:  Most recently, GreenShare, a mega collaboration site was established. It provides real-time discussion and a repository of best practices, providing opportunities for employees to participate and collaborate.

Green Sync

In addition to the green team efforts, Deloitte also developed a tool to support employee and stakeholder engagement.  I have not had the opportunity to see the tool in action, but Dekar commented, “Green Sync™ is a framework providing actionable solutions to increase employee engagement and support sustainability goals and associated business objectives.”

The elements of Green Sync TM include the following:

  • Strategic visioning:  Developing strategic goals in a clear and actionable manner, thus setting the direction for all other related activities.
  • Stakeholder alignment:  Facilitating stakeholder and leadership buy-in, and synchronizing messaging.
  • Communications and branding:  Using communication tactics to inspire and motivate change, while reflecting the organization’s vision and brand in all messages in such a way that the brand is enhanced.
  • Learning: Using delivery methods to educate employees on how their individual actions can make a positive impact on the organization.
  • Culture:  Cultivating an environment that supports sustainability initiatives.
  • Rewards: Establishing recognition and/or reward programs for employees who demonstrate commitment to sustainability initiatives.

Dekar explained, “Because people are the most important asset of any organization, companies can benefit through increased recognition as an employer of choice–one that recruits and retains the best, most diverse talent, and has a collaborative culture that engages employees in achieving sustainability.”

He outlined other business benefits from Green Sync, including:

  • It helps organizations fulfill their sustainability vision by “walking the talk,” and avoiding “greenwashing.”
  • From a bottom-line perspective, it provides innovative opportunities to reduce costs and reap long-term benefits while also increasing employee morale and commitment to the organization.
  • It helps an organization positively impact the environment while enhancing its internal and external brand.

To learn more

To learn more about Deloitte’s green programs, see its 2009 Corporate Responsiblity report.

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Deborah Fleischer is president of Green Impact, a strategic environmental consulting practice that helps companies engage employees, strengthen their relationships with stakeholders, develop profitable green initiatives and communicate their successes and challenges. You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact.

Sustainability Consulting Bay Area

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