Awards – Not Just for the Winners
Last week I had the honor of kicking off Acterra’s 2011 Business Environmental Awards (BEA) with some reflections on the meaning of such awards. Acterra is a 40 year old environmental nonprofit serving the Silicon Valley area with a number of excellent programs. Acterra’s BEA program is 22 years old and is probably one of the oldest programs of its type.
My top 10 takeaways on the value of awards, which I shared with the guests, are as follows:
• Get inspired – companies are undertaking some wonderful initiatives that genuinely advance sustainability in our communities. “Think globally, act locally” is much in evidence at the BEA. Inspiration fuels hope and often sparks a desire to make it happen elsewhere;
• Take some ideas home – the sustainability profession is a sharing one, so reach out and get the details on how the winners made it all happen;
• Build your network – there was a lot of good feeling in the room last night and it’s a year-round feeling, at least here in the Bay Area;
• Get judged – the process is revealing and productive;
• Get judged again – do not get discouraged if you don’t succeed in grabbing the prize (such as it is, a nice bamboo plaque in the case of the BEA). Improve your programs and come back for more;
• Celebrate – we don’t always take the time to celebrate the progress we are making in addressing some real environmental challenges;
• Build support – perhaps the greatest benefit of achieving some recognition is building support with your executives and others who are not as aware of the good work going on within their own companies;
• Lend support – sponsor an award or contribute, if you can. Applied Materials is proud to have supported Acterra’s programs for a number of years;
• Continue Learning – I served as a judge for the sustainability category (essentially the BEA’s all-around category and Acterra’s “highest” recognition) and the fresh perspective that offered me was invaluable, even for a seasoned professional;
• Communicate – it is important to spread the word, internally and outside your company. We use this blog, our intranet and social media to let people know what we are doing.
This year’s winners and their accomplishments were certainly inspiring to me, from a local nonprofit that collects and reuses 200,000 cubic feet of materials each year (!) to create educational kits for thousands of students (RAFT – an organization Applied Materials’ corporate responsibility program supports) to a small development company that is constructing green, affordable housing, including units for developmentally disabled individuals (First Community Housing). Choosing my favorites is like choosing your favorite child, so I heartily recommend going to the Acterra web site and watching all of the video presentations yourself. The Applied Materials video created after receiving last year’s BEA Sustainability Award is on the same page, under “2010”.