HOW COULD THE GREEN MASTERS PROGRAM® TRANSFORM SUSTAINABILITY AT YOUR COMPANY?
Three Wisconsin companies weigh in
If your company wants to improve sustainability but isn't sure where to find the help you need, your peers have a suggestion: Try WSBC’s Green Masters Program®.
The Green Masters Program® is a tool to define, prioritize, measure, and manage an organization’s performance in sustainability topics that are meaningful to your business and your stakeholders. The virtual platform was purpose-built for organizations looking for a scalable standard for improving their performance in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact areas.
We recently connected with three companies that are participating in the program:
Denise Bond, Environmental Engineer, and Lena Mitkey, Director – Environmental, Social & Governance at Bemis Manufacturing Company
Neitzke, Senior Architectural Technician, III, IT at MSI General Design Build
Ty Charles, Owner/CEO at GreenLight E. Recycling, LLC
Here’s what they had to share about their experience.
"It helps us go beyond storytelling to capture and share our sustainability successes.”
“The Green Masters Program® helps us go from good intentions to action,” said Mitkey.
Bond agreed. “We always had great stories to tell, but we didn’t necessarily have the data to back them up. The Green Masters Program® is making us more aware and identifying areas where there’s room for improvement.”
Bond and Mitkey saw participation in The Green Masters Program as a natural progression in Bemis’s commitment to sustainability. After attending WSBC’s annual conference for several years, the company enrolled in the 21st Century Pathways Program (a coaching program that helps a company establish its sustainability goals). That experience helped them realize they were ready to take the next step in their sustainability journey. The Green Masters’ questions are part of the Pathways’ curriculum, and being able to test-drive the framework beforehand gave Bemis the confidence it was ready for the next step.
“It's so much more than networking."
It’s not uncommon for participants to initially consider joining WSBC as a member and the Green Masters Program to connect with and collaborate with their peers. After all, the program is a great way to learn from other Wisconsin businesses that share your sustainability challenges and goals.
But all three companies were quick to point out the many ways the Green Masters Program went beyond that role.
"As we were starting our journey, WSBC was instrumental in helping us roadmap our plans. They even helped us develop a job description when we decided the time was right to hire a director of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance)," said Bond. "Whenever we need advice, they're an amazing resource." "Whenever we need advice, they're an amazing resource."
MSI has found the annual Green Masters Program survey to be a helpful way to evaluate and direct future efforts. “It inspires us to re-visit our own sustainability efforts and those of our clients,” said Neitzke. "Even if some of the questions don't seem to apply to us now, they drive us to ask, 'What are we missing? What should we be paying more attention to?'"
“The range of content you can access through the Green Masters Program is incredible,” said Charles. “Although I was familiar with many of the topics, the program helped me see ways to implement sustainable practices at a level that was far beyond what I was doing before. Plus, it's opened my eyes to sustainability issues I wasn't aware of. I'm learning new things every day."
“It’s a great way to connect with and support our clients and vendors.”
All three companies discovered they had peers and clients who are also members of WSBC and participate in the Green Masters Program.
GreenLight Recycling learned about the program from a colleague who was head of sustainability at a Milwaukee-area company. "When he heard I was starting my own business, he recommended I check out the Green Masters Program. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made!" said Charles.
A long-time client, Inpro, introduced MSI to the program and was a mentor when MSI first joined the Green Masters Program. "Knowing the categories our clients need to address gives us insights into their current needs and helps us better direct both their operations and building design," said Neitzke. "We have a great opportunity for a wide range of positive impacts just by being sustainably focused on everything we do every day. Because of the program, we always ask ourselves, 'What else can we tackle?' and 'How do we stack up?' There's a bit of friendly competition to it.”
GreenLight has found the Green Masters Program to be an invaluable tool for tracking data—both for its use and its clients'. "It's great that we're using the same tool," said Charles. "I know exactly what my clients need and can deliver it.”
“It really matters that it’s focused on Wisconsin.”
“It’s invaluable to be able to collaborate with Wisconsin companies who are going through the same things you are,” said Bond. “And the Green Masters scoring system gives us a benchmark to see how we compare to other Wisconsin companies.”
“Bemis is committed to Wisconsin,” said Mitkey. "We're a family-held company with a long history in the state, and it's important to us to be tied to other Wisconsin organizations. Green Masters and WSBC provide that connection."
Neitzke likes the benefits of a smaller, more connected group. “I belong to some national groups, where you’re one of thousands of members, and there isn’t a strong sense of connection. Being part of something local, and having that strong peer network, gives it a lot more strength. You feel comfortable reaching out when you have questions or need advice.”
“It empowers our employees.”
Employee involvement and buy-in are critical to successfully implementing any change, and sustainability is no exception. "None of us grew up with a sustainability mindset," said Charles. “It’s been interesting to see my employees learn about something at work and apply it to their personal lives. All those small changes can lead to the biggest change in the world.”
Charles has also seen that the more his team learns about sustainability, the more they suggest new things for the company to try. “I’m not out driving the trucks, so I don’t always see the obstacles and opportunities for improvement firsthand. I count on my employees for that, and it’s been exciting to watch them discover ways to do their job a little faster and more sustainably. When they have a suggestion, we implement it. If it works, it works; if it fails, we go back to the drawing board. It’s a team effort. The Green Masters Program is helping create a closer bond with our employees.”
“Participating in the Green Masters Program creates a stronger awareness of sustainability for all our employees,” said Neitzke.
A tool that’s proven popular with many program participants is the Cool Choices game. This computer-based game helps players pinpoint ways to improve their sustainability both at home and on the job and compete for individual and team points. "Cool Choices got people talking about sustainability, and it was fun to see their competitive spirit come out,” said Bond.
Cool Choices has become a company-wide favorite at MSI where roughly a third of the staff participates each spring. "About a month before the Cool Choices launch, you'll start to hear the buzz around the office," said Neitzke. “We get participants of all ages, but the younger employees definitely like to participate.”
Some last thoughts
“In the day-to-day chaos, it can be challenging to find the time to dive into sustainability,” said Neitzke. “The Green Masters Program gives you a chance to pause and think about what sustainability should mean for your company and how you can address your challenges.”
“Sustainability is important to me because of my kids,” said Charles. “I want a greener, better world for my kids and future grandkids! Green Masters is helping me make a difference.”