Sustainable development. You’ve probably seen these two words just about everywhere by now. But sometimes, unfortunately, they’re used as vague advertising artifices more than to describe actual actions and processes undertaken by a company. So I have prepared a three-part article to describe in details what sustainable development is really about, and how Philips Lumec’s commitment translates into reality.
We believe that by sharing and showing our approach towards sustainable development we will gather comments, insights, and questions that can lead us to further improve ourselves. We also hope our openness and our achievements can inspire other companies – whether from the lighting industry or just any other field – to take similar steps that will not only have a positive environmental impact but can also lead to financial gains and greater commercial success.
The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) defines sustainable development thusly: “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” So, in other words, it encompasses more than eco-designed products; it is also about improving business practices and activities during the design, the manufacture, the use, the maintenance, and the delivery of the products so as to continuously reduce their environmental impact. It is a long-term commitment that requires humility, honesty, as well as the engagement of every member of the company.
At Philips Lumec, the first challenge was to determine where to start. We opted to establish a Green Committee comprised of employees that were passionate about sustainable development. The Committee’s first mandate was to come up with a report to address the seven points listed and explained below.
Once the current situation was assessed and areas to improve were identified, the Green Committee and all the members of the Executive agreed on simple, realistic, timely, and measurable corporate objectives that were based on these findings. To ensure it would last through time, the Committee made sure the members of the executive clearly understood the objectives and the benefits of such an engagement, and that they we aware of the actions that needed to be undertaken in all of their departments.
Furthermore, because sustainable development depends on the commitment of everyone, starting with the Executive, the Committee had every member of the Executive sign and officially approve this commitment. Copies are since found throughout the company, reminding employees that every step taken towards sustainable development is endorsed by the Executive. We believed this would bring credibility and lend more value to the plan in everyone’s eyes.
To concretize the commitment and to make sure everyone would work in the same direction, the Committee established an action plan based on short, mid, and long-term, as well as annual objectives for each department. Making use of tools already in place, a sustainable development objective was integrated into the employee evaluation system according to the Committee’s recommendations. This ensured every member of the company would work in concert and be rewarded accordingly.
Finally, the Green Committee was put in charge of safeguarding sustainable development at Philips Lumec. To do so, it produces an annual report on the accomplishments of every department, showing the progress towards corporate objectives and offering a constructive criticism of the overall state of sustainable development in the company.
The Green Committee and our commitment towards sustainable development have been in existence since 2007. Obviously, we have encountered obstacles and challenges on various levels:
- Communications: we had to find a way to reach all the members of the company with a common message;
- Training: not everyone feels concerned by environmental issues and sustainability;
- Commitment: it was crucial to clearly demonstrate the financial, social, and environmental benefits of such an engagement.
But in the end, we firmly believe in sustainable development and we know its success within a company resides in every single step taken, no matter how big or small, and that it goes way beyond the manufacturing of “green” products. In my next post, you will learn more on how our commitment became reality. There are the eco-friendly luminaires we manufacture, of course, but we also take great pride in the various environmental recognitions and certifications we have obtained thanks to the efforts of everyone!
As we are always looking to discuss our vision and our actions with partners and other companies, I invite you to leave your comments on sustainable development below!