Heather Stowe is the person to thank for the creation and growth of the Domtar EarthChoice Ambassadors Program. She currently serves as the corporate social responsibility manager at Domtar.
Domtar’s EarthChoice Ambassadors program is an employee engagement program that began in 2011 to promote sustainable principles throughout the company. Now going into its seventh year, this very successful program is on track to have chapters in place at all Domtar facilities by 2020. And, with more than 500 ambassadors, Domtar’s EarthChoice Ambassadors put in more than 2,000 hours of volunteer work last year.
Stowe’s story with Domtar’s EarthChoice Ambassadors started in 2010 when Domtar sponsored her to participate in a six-month class in New York City for women in business. The class focused on creating case studies for how businesses can improve employee engagement through sustainability. While enrolled, Stowe conducted a survey among her colleagues to see if there was interest in a program like this at Domtar. To her delight, there was.
Following the class, Stowe presented a business case to her team and was given the opportunity to implement the plan at Domtar. Now, just a few years later, the EarthChoice Ambassador program has taken off at 22 of the company’s sites and is a vital employee engagement program.
Stowe’s favorite part of her job is the social aspect of sustainability. When she introduces the Ambassador program to new locations, she finds that it turns into much more than recycling bottles and cans; it leads to serving and making a difference in local communities. In her experience, Domtar employees have an interest in volunteering, which is why the EarthChoice Ambassador program has seen such success.
A deeper belief in giving back and doing great things in local communities is something Stowe finds very important, and is something that she is working to instill in her son as well. Stowe said that 5-year-old Liam is “the center of [her] world, but not the center of THE world.” She brings Liam along to volunteer days as often as she can. “He needs to understand that to give much is to receive much,” she added.
What advice would Stowe give to others who are interested in organizing a program like EarthChoice Ambassadors? “It’s important to take small steps,” she said. “It takes time and patience to introduce new ideas and for a movement to catch on, but the results are definitely worth the effort.”