Burgers And Brews Set Sustainability Standard In The Heartland

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

What do burgers and brews have in common, other than the basis for a tasty meal? They’re products, generated by Midwestern companies, that are setting the standard for sustainability in the Heartland.

From a brewery that generates zero waste to a 90-year old manufacturer that donates generators to disaster victims, Fortune 500 companies such as McDonald’s, Miller-Coors and Briggs and Stratton are successfully engaging employees in their company’s commitment to not only taking care of the environment, but also their fellow human beings, according to “Workforce for Good: Engaging Employees in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility,” a white paper created by Jocelyn Azada and Matthew Rochte, two leading sustainability experts based in the Midwest.

“For so many years, we’ve heard about all the advancements in green expertise stemming from the East or the West Coast, but we found the Midwest really held its own. With a reputation for hard work and wholesomeness, the Heartland has unleashed innovation that decreased energy, waste and water footprint, added millions of dollars to the bottom line, increased competitive advantages, and attracted and retained talent,” said Azada. Rochte continued, “from Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago, Midwestern companies may even have a richer history as good corporate citizens than their coastal brethren as it’s been a part of their DNA for so much longer.”

The white paper shares insights from a series of interviews with 17 leaders in sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The 12 Fortune 500 level companies were interviewed with one purpose: to find out how they engage their employees in sustainability and CSR. The companies came from a wide spectrum of diverse industries, from consumer and industrial goods to healthcare, financial services and consulting, and were predominantly Midwestern-headquartered global corporations. Managers and senior executives of the following companies all lent their expertise including: American Family Insurance, Brady Corporation, Briggs and Stratton Corporation, Jones Lang LaSalle, MillerCoors, Rockwell Automation, McDonald’s Corporation, Humana, Frito-Lay, Patrick Cudahy, and Marathon Oil Corporation.

Nine leading practices for engaging employees in sustainability were identified, along with specific examples for each. In every case, focusing on employees as a sustainability strategy was the difference. To download the white paper, click this link.