At Domtar, we talk a lot about how people are at the root of healthy forests. And it’s true — working with small landowners who are committed to sustainably managing their forests for future generations has a tangible impact on the environment. But people are also at the root of healthy companies — especially when those companies are focused on creating a culture of sustainability. When employees feel connected to a purpose beyond profit, they can improve the company culture as well as the bottom line.
In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that employee loyalty was 38 percent higher and morale 55 percent higher in companies with a strong culture of sustainability. According to a National Environmental Education Foundation study, companies that approach employee engagement by creating a culture of sustainability saw gains in talent attraction, employee productivity, community recognition and brand strength. The research also shows that employees who are passionate about sustainability at home would like to see those same practices valued at work. These are sustainability champions, and they lead by example, adopting the role of advocate and change-maker without the need of a formal position or title. This benefits the employee and the company at large.
A Culture of Sustainability Makes a Difference
The benefits of a strong corporate culture of sustainability can be seen in Domtar’s Difference Makers program, which celebrates employees, customers and community members who are part of our corporate culture. We’ve featured everyday heroes like Khloe Thompson, the granddaughter of a Domtar employee who is supporting homeless women in her community; and Dianne Loewen, coordinator of the Dryden Conservation Camp, which is dedicated helping the next generation understand the importance of sustainably managing their natural resources.
The ethos of Domtar’s industry-leading EarthChoice sustainable paper product line has become embedded in our company’s culture of sustainability. In 2011, Heather Stowe, Domtar’s corporate social responsibility manager, created the EarthChoice Ambassadors program to organize and support the many employees who were inspired to give back to their communities and promote sustainable choices at work and at home.
The program invites employees to make a difference by, for example, holding recycling drives or volunteering with local nonprofit organizations. Now entering its seventh year, this program is active at 23 of Domtar’s facilities in three countries; the goal is to institute the program companywide by 2020. Along with these ambassadors, Domtar employees put in more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work this year — double that of last year.
“One unexpected delight of managing the EarthChoice Ambassadors program is hearing how the mission enhances the Domtar experience for our team members,” Stowe said. “A few weeks ago, I received a call from Angela McLawhorn in Greenville, North Carolina, about her involvement with the Special Olympics. She said that it was one of the most meaningful events she has participated in at Domtar.
“More recently, Mike Sun expressed his appreciation for a restoration event at the British Columbia Wildlife Park,” Stowe continued. “He went on to say that the work we did that day was really meaningful — to the park, to the community and to his family.”
Creating a formal program that connects employees with opportunities to give back and recognizes them for doing so promotes a culture of sustainability in the workplace. By making the communities they work in more environmentally and socially sustainable places to live, companies can reap the benefits of a more engaged workforce.
Want to learn more about Domtar’s culture of sustainability? Read about how EarthChoice Ambassadors make a difference in the world by focusing on our customers, colleagues and communities.