A Policy is a Path – Part 3: Planning Social Sustainability into your Company’s Future
We’ve blogged about how we came to the realization that we needed to formalize our sustainability policy and we’ve gone into details about the environmental and economic aspects of our policy, but we’ve saved the part that we’re most proud of for last: our commitment to social sustainability.
Socially sustainable behaviors were in evidence among Savage employees long before we formalized the social part of our sustainability plan. Over the past 39 years our firm has undertaken countless pro bono projects and I firmly believe one of the greatest things we can do as a creative firm is use our God-given talents to positively affect change.
About seven years ago, I applied for, and received, my first Ideas That Matter grant through Sappi Paper. I created materials for parents of premature infants that educated them on the life-threatening conditions these infants face. I knew all about this because I too was one of those parents.
Following the initial printing, it was picked up by a pharmaceutical company who reprinted thousands of copies to use as literature donated to hospitals around the country. Seven years later, I still get a couple of requests each month from hospitals that have seen it and want copies. The success of that one handbook and the satisfaction we got out of helping others led me to apply for and receive three additional Ideas That Matter grants. Very simply, it became my passion.
Some of the materials created for parents of premature infants.
Immediately after I completed the first Ideas That Matter project, I was asked by Sappi to judge the next grant submissions in Boston. Michael Osborne of MOD/SF was on the jury with me. At the same time, he was launching Joey’s Corner, a non-profit studio dedicated to providing pro bono creative services to non-profits. He did it to honor the memory of his son, Joey, who passed away at an early age. He made a huge impression on me, as I was not only inspired by his work and attitude, but also by how he overcame tragedy to create something so beautiful in his son’s honor.
We launched Savage Good as the social branch of our sustainability policy, a program which, like Joey’s Corner, provides strategic and creative services to non-profit organizations on a pro bono basis. Our operating model is different, but the goal is the same – to use our passion for social causes, and our God-given talent, to make a positive social impact and affect change within our community.
The key to a successful sustainability policy is to get every employee on board. We discovered that by formalizing our three tenets, all of our employees became its champions, which is a key to its success. By formalizing Savage Good, we’ve been able to give more back to the community we live in and we’ve been able to get more Savages involved.
In the end, sustainability is not just about making money, or about buying recycling bins. It’s about having a plan. A sustainability policy is a path your company, and your employees will follow, hopefully for the long haul. By formalizing our own plan, we have a much clearer idea of where Savage is going and how we’re developing as a company- and we’re really excited about it.
Where is your company going?