Xerox and Sustainability

Xerox and Sustainability

Since becoming a member of the Sustainable Business Coalition in 2010, I am frequently asked about Xerox’s approach to the Triple Bottom Line

Since becoming a member of the Sustainable Business Coalition in 2010, I am frequently asked about Xerox’s approach to the Triple Bottom Line. Hi, I am Janet Harrison. My response is usually, “How much time do you have?”

Many people think of Xerox as “the copier company” not knowing the history of a company rebuilt from near-bankruptcy in 2000; turning into the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management by 2010.

This was accomplished by focusing on our core values; realizing that the most beneficial business decisions we could make had both environmental and financial benefits.

As a good corporate citizen, Xerox does not choose between planet and profit. Good citizenship and profitable results are not only compatible but synergistic- in good times and in challenging times.

Our philosophy is organized around five themes that encompass who we are today:

  • Ethical Business - Conducting our business with integrity and transparency builds credibility and attracts investors.

  • Customer Experience - Aligning our resources around customer needs provides the revenue stream that enables investment in innovation and future growth.

  • Greener World - Nurturing a greener world through sustainable innovation and development saves money, creates value and helps develop new markets.

  • Great Workplace - Creating a great workplace for our people strengthens our competitiveness.

  • Our Communities - Leveraging our resources to make our world better improves the quality of life for our people and the economic climate for our customers.

A closer look will reveal that the Triple Bottom Line is reflected within each of these themes. As a company that takes its responsibility to the community at large very seriously, the answer to the question of how we approach sustainability is simple. It’s part of everything we do. Staying true to the Triple Bottom Line, we don’t focus solely on ourselves and our environmental impact, but those of our employees, customers, vendors and stakeholders as well. Our approach is from a life-cycle perspective, recognizing the opportunity for us to make an impact by addressing all aspects of our actions, products and services… and recognizing that the biggest opportunity to make an impact may lie outside of our own four walls.

As a global leader in technology, services and sustainability, looking outside our own walls allows us to learn from others and share our experiences as well in the communities in which we work. In speaking with companies with less of a focus on sustainability, I have found that organizations struggle to justify investments in green initiatives, especially during tough economic times.

Patty Calkins, Xerox’s global vice president of Environment, Health, Safety, believes the misconception that sustainable innovation is costly is a major obstacle for global progress. She believes that it is possible for businesses today to develop environmental initiatives that will make a quantifiable contribution to both the environment and the bottom line. Patty outlines this approach using Xerox’s Five Steps to Sustainability Success:

1. Explore the entire value chain of your business

Don't narrow your focus to one functional area. Open your mind to improvements and innovations that could reduce environmental impacts throughout your value chain, from beginning to end. When you take time to consider all of the working components of your value chain, you will dramatically expand the playing field for smart green initiatives.

2. Use disciplined, quantitative analysis to identify your best opportunities

Analytical tools and methodologies developed for proven quality management programs like Lean Six Sigma can help you identify problems and opportunities that will produce the biggest benefits in the shortest time frame. Goals and metrics align and empower the organization. Establishing these will enable more people to contribute and you will accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible.

3. Make sure the proposed improvement or innovation will deliver both economic and environmental benefits

In today's highly competitive business environment, quantifiable benefits are an essential requirement for any "smart way to green." So it's important to assess the win-win potential of any project before you begin active development. Economics is one of the three pillars of sustainability. If you put the organization out of business while launching your sustainability program, that is not a sustainable business strategy.

4. Think "partnerships"

To maximize your opportunity for success, you need to team up with suppliers, customers, outsourcing providers and other partners. At Xerox, for example, we work with all of the partners in our value chain to reduce waste, energy use, greenhouse gases and our overall environmental impact. It's all part of our effort to achieve one of our long-standing company goals: We want to operate waste-free manufacturing facilities that produce waste-free products that help our customers create waste-free work environments.

5. Be innovative

No question about it. Innovation is a vital cog in the big green machine. So when you begin working on green initiatives, think outside the box. Take a fresh look at the way you operate throughout your value chain or how you are evaluating cost to the business. And look for opportunities to innovate. It could lead to breakthrough results—for the environment and your business.

Beyond these five steps, you must be passionate about what you are doing. Let that sense of mission inspire you and you will bring a deep sense of commitment and determination to your efforts, inspiring those around you.

To connect with Patty, visit her website, where you can ask questions, sign up for her e-newsletter, and download whitepapers.

Please also consider reviewing the latest Xerox Corporate Citizenship report:

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