Fourth annual Business for Good event brought sustainability leaders to Appalachian's campus to interact with students, faculty

As part of Appalachian State University's fourth annual Business for Good conference, students and faculty heard from leaders in sustainable business practice, including Mr. John Replogle, CEO and President of Seventh Generation; Mr. Vance Merolla, Global Director of Sustainability for Colgate-Palmolive Company; Mr. Joby Carlson, Director of Sustainability for Walmart, Inc.; and Mr. Andy Acho, Former Worldwide Director of Environmental Outreach and Strategy for Ford Motor Company, on Friday, August 24, 2018.

Business for Good is a one-day event for faculty, staff and invited guests to learn and share how sustainable business practices relate to us all.

John Replogle, CEO & President, Seventh Generation Inc.

John Replogle, CEO and President of Seventh Generation, kicked off the program with a talk on "Leading with Purpose: Becoming a Citizen Leader."

Replogle said the solution to today's sustainability issues rests with business and that students entering the workplace must "think and act differently" than previous generations and remember that responsible business leadership incorporates the three Ps: People, Planet, and Profit.

"Business is 20 times the size of non-profit and seven times the size of government," he said. "We turn to business for the pace, scale and global reach to solve our problems."

Replogle challenged the last generation's business education model, and said the "new rules" are about how you treat your employees and the way you interact with your community.

"If every business would adopt their hometown, then we'd change world," said Replogle. "It's not about externalizing cost and internalizing profit; it's about being values-led and being clear on your principles. It's about relationships, not transactions; it's about win-wins, not win-losses."

Replogle added that hallmarks of the 21st Century leader are vision, courage, collaboration, engagement and moral code.

"I see business as a great calling to drive positive impact," said Replogle, and eighty five percent of students seem to agree, he added, citing the data as evidence that today's graduates want to work for a socially and ethical organization.

Watch the video.

Vance Merolla, Global Director of Sustainability, Colgate-Palmolive Company

Vance Merolla, Global Director of Sustainability for Colgate-Palmolive Company, spoke to event participants about his company's journey to sustainability.

Merolla said a recent key initiative for the organization has been to develop programs to support water conservation.

Merolla said that studying Colgate's water use footprint helped inform the organization's direction in water conservation initiatives.

Consumer education is one key initiative that came from studying the footprint data. Raw and packaging material supply is a focus for the organization, but, since consumer use exceeds manufacturing use by ten times, Colgate has focused recent efforts in consumer education.

In recent years, Colgate launched an integrated marketing campaign "Save Water" to engage with consumers and encourage behavior change.

Merolla shared that leveraging the results of the campaign helped drive profitable business growth, build partnership with customers and, most importantly, had lasting sustainability impact, including, potential reduction up to 50 billion gallons of water.

Merolla added that while Colgate provides training for its employees, students who graduate with both knowledge of marketing principles and an understanding of the importance of sustainability will make an immediate impact.

Walker College accounting professor Dr. Tammy Kowalczyk spoke briefly on the work her students are doing to engage local businesses in impact investments and B Corp certification.

Joby Carlson, Director of Global Sustainability, Walmart Inc.

Joby Carlson, Director of Global Sustainability for Walmart Inc., presented on "How Walmart is Enhancing Sustainability in its Operations & Value Chain."

Carlson discussed initiatives that have helped Walmart improve both their business and the communities they serve by using their strengths to help others and creating shared value for business and society.

For example, Walmart's Oversees Acres for America program aims to conserve one acre of land for every acre developed. According to Carlson, the effort ended up conserving ten acres for every acre developed, within its first years in place.

Carlson also discussed Project Gigaton, a project engagement platform that offers tools such as emissions calculators and webinars to help train and engage suppliers.

Project Gigaton aims to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030. Since the program was introduced in 2017, hundreds of Walmart suppliers have committed to reducing emissions.

"Collectively, we've made great progress, but there is still a long way to go," said Carlson.

According to Carlson, Walmart's leadership has developed global responsibility priorities, which include creating economics opportunity, enhancing the sustainability of operations and global value chains, and strengthening local communities.

"I don't think even Walmart would have done these things if our leadership hadn't set goals and aspirations," said Carlson. "Targets get people motivated, and we want to know that the work we are doing is going to make the world better."

Carlson said Wal-Mart aims to be powered by 100% renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain the people and the environment.

Watch the video.

Green E Awards

During the conference, two Walker College of Business faculty members were honored with 2018 Green E Awards, which recognize individuals for outstanding accomplishments in the area of sustainable business at Appalachian State University. The "E" stands for Economy, Environment, and Equity.

Department of Management chair Dr. Heather Dixon-Fowler was recognized for having published some of the most impactful research in the sustainable business field, for organizing and bringing influential speakers to previous conferences, and for having helped to develop the sustainable business minor at Appalachian, including piloting new courses, and assisting students in sustainable business research.

Professor of Economics Dr. John Whitehead was also recognized for his research, as well as for his work in establishing and growing the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy & Management at Appalachian, for his environmental economics blog that is a prominent source of information for government officials, faculty, students and the general public, and for his work conducting cost-benefit analyses on the economic benefits of sustainable business to our community.

Andy Acho, Former Worldwide Director of Environmental Outreach and Strategy, Ford Motor Company

The event concluded with a reception at the home of Leigh and Pam Dunston in Blowing Rock, NC.

Mr. Andy Acho, Former Worldwide Director of Environmental Outreach and Strategy for Ford Motor Company, spoke on his experiences with Ford and its then-revolutionary Recycling Action Team (RAT Patrol).

Bill Ford charged Acho and the RAT Patrol to "do things that were good for the environment and good for the bottom line." Acho detailed to attendees programs that Ford began in the 1990s to develop and implement uses for post-consumer recycled materials including plastic and rubber.

"We have a moral obligation to preserve the environment for future generations." said Acho. "For the last several generations, our society has thrown away environmental stewardship."

Acho, who simply defines sustainability as the ability of this generation to have the materials to provide for its needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to have the materials and provide for their needs, suggested that without Bill Ford's activism, others wouldn't be empowered to effective stewardship today.

"The difference between a good company and a great company is that a great company not only offers excellent products and services, but also strives to make the world a better place."

Watch the video.

Team Sunergy

Notably present at the reception were graduate and undergraduate student members of Team Sunergy, a team that has sought to represent North Carolina and Appalachian State's commitment to sustainable energy initiatives at international solar vehicle competitions since 2013, and their car, R.O.S.E. -- Racing on Solar Energy.

Mr. Acho invited Team Sunergy's business director, Kali Smith, a Walker College environmental economics and policy major, to join him in addressing the crowd and publicly offered his support for their work through a $1,000 pledge.

As part of the Walker College’s Business for Good conference at Appalachian State University, students and faculty are hearing from leaders in sustainable business practice, including Mr. John Replogle, CEO & President of Seventh Generation. (Photo by Marie Freeman)
Published: Aug 23, 2018 12:06pm