May 18, 2016 | By isosteam |
Key Contributors: ISOS Group & Linda Glasier-Environmental Specialist at the Washington State Department of Ecology
May, 2016—The State of Washington has developed a worldwide reputation as a hub of innovation, technology, and forward-thinking industries. A key component of that forward-thinking for many Washington organizations is sustainability.
Not just environmental sustainability, but sustainability in the broader sense of understanding the impact an organization has, and preparing for the future.
One of the leaders of this movement has been the Washington Department of Ecology. That may seem ironic, both because government agencies are not traditionally viewed as innovators and a department charged with protecting the environment might not be expected to think about sustainability in that broader sense.
Washington State Department of Ecology, a Nucleus for Sustainability Acceleration
In 2012, however, Ecology became the first state agency in the country to issue a sustainability report meeting the international Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines – the same framework used by many major companies in Washington and elsewhere to validate their sustainability and corporate social responsibility reporting. Ecology has also worked with GRI and dozens of Washington businesses to incorporate this type of reporting into their strategic plans.
According to Linda Glasier, an environmental specialist who has led Ecology’s GRI reporting project, helping businesses, organizations and other local and state agencies adopt sustainability into their thinking helps connect the state.
“Ecology believes that having a common standard for tracking, demonstrating and communicating sustainability performance makes sense for our agency,” she said. “And establishing a common framework with other groups in our state can push us to communicate better and work toward common goals.”
The first state agency in the country to issue a GRI sustainability report
The GRI Guidelines are the world’s most-widely used reporting standard for non-financial measures. There are standardized questions, metrics and an underlying quality analysis and quality check process to spur robust reporting efforts for organizations of all types.
Sustainability reporting has been adopted by academic institutions, small mom and pop businesses, and corporate titans such as Boeing, Microsoft, Nintendo, Amazon Expedia, Weyerhaeuser, Starbucks and Costco.
“When companies really commit to sustainability planning and reporting as part of their strategic efforts,” Glasier said, “they go far beyond feel-good projects or altruism. They find opportunities to make their businesses more resilient, more efficient, and more profitable in a changing marketplace.”
For the Department of Ecology, measuring its own impacts on the environment and in the communities it serves obviously serves to ensure the agency walks its talk. But, with more than a thousand employees and offices across Washington, the Department faces many of the same challenges any business does, from commuting to succession planning to paying the water bill.
Washington is home to world-class organizations that are in the perfect position to be ambassadors of change. However, no one organization can go at it alone. Sustainability is a team sport, Glasier says, and we’re all on the same team.
Get a first hand look at the new GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards
We invite all Washington-based organizations interested in improving their bottom line to attend the upcoming ISOS Group-led GRI-G4 Certified Training in Tukwila, Wash., scheduled for June 8-9, 2016. The Washington Department of Ecology is hosting the training, with assistance from presenters from Alaska Airlines and Holland America.
Participants will hear first-hand how Ecology and other organizations have gone about aligning metrics to diverse stakeholder interests. Upon course completion, participants will receive globally recognized certificates from GRI.