Executive Briefings

Driving Sustainability Within Your Team

Sustainability has moved from buzzword to boardroom mandate, says Michael Youn, logistics manager for Cintas, a provider of uniforms, apparel and other services. Leadership from the top is required to effectively engage the team charged with carrying out the initiative.

Most companies have a sustainability initiative in the works today, Youn says, but so may of those programs focus solely on the end customer and don't take into account the so-called internal customers, the employees. That's likely to be counterproductive.

It's useful to remind oneself of the purpose of the supply chain, Youn says. "It's to position the internal customers to meet the requirements of the external customers." Yet, studies show that as much as 60 percent of employees nationwide are looking to leave their jobs as employee discontent is clearly on the rise. And employees who are not engaged by top management are certainly not likely to contribute anything positive to company sustainability initiatives.

Senior management must buy into not only the importance of reducing the company's carbon footprint but of engaging their employees in the effort.

"What is the purpose of the initiative?" Young asks. "Has that been communicated to the employees?" Has a method to define and enforce accountability of the "green" team been established? Are frontline employees and middle managers on the same page?

At Cintas, the green programs of each of the company's business units were centralized some time ago. A "green partner" web site was set up to report on the program's progress and to solicit ideas.

The traditional paradigm in supply chain is to reduce cost and increase service, Youn says. Sustainability is a third way to look at the supply chain: efforts to reduce a company's carbon footprint lead to new ways of improving the first two elements.

At Cintas, concerns about sustainability directly led to an increase in the use of intermodal. Moreover, the company's trucking use has been modified considerably, Youn says. For instance, the company's fleet use has been reduced by about 12 million miles just in the last year.

To view this video in its entirety, click here.

Most companies have a sustainability initiative in the works today, Youn says, but so may of those programs focus solely on the end customer and don't take into account the so-called internal customers, the employees. That's likely to be counterproductive.

It's useful to remind oneself of the purpose of the supply chain, Youn says. "It's to position the internal customers to meet the requirements of the external customers." Yet, studies show that as much as 60 percent of employees nationwide are looking to leave their jobs as employee discontent is clearly on the rise. And employees who are not engaged by top management are certainly not likely to contribute anything positive to company sustainability initiatives.

Senior management must buy into not only the importance of reducing the company's carbon footprint but of engaging their employees in the effort.

"What is the purpose of the initiative?" Young asks. "Has that been communicated to the employees?" Has a method to define and enforce accountability of the "green" team been established? Are frontline employees and middle managers on the same page?

At Cintas, the green programs of each of the company's business units were centralized some time ago. A "green partner" web site was set up to report on the program's progress and to solicit ideas.

The traditional paradigm in supply chain is to reduce cost and increase service, Youn says. Sustainability is a third way to look at the supply chain: efforts to reduce a company's carbon footprint lead to new ways of improving the first two elements.

At Cintas, concerns about sustainability directly led to an increase in the use of intermodal. Moreover, the company's trucking use has been modified considerably, Youn says. For instance, the company's fleet use has been reduced by about 12 million miles just in the last year.

To view this video in its entirety, click here.