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Building Communities
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Sustainability Report, 2012
Building Communities

Building Communities

We aspire to advance social justice and equality to unleash human potential by creating a vibrant workplace and building thriving communities.

On Joining Our Team

“When I joined Seventh Generation a year ago, I immediately noticed the way the culture is galvanized around the mission. The minute you walk into the building and start talking to people, you sense a refreshing energy that comes from doing everything a little bit better.

“I was particularly impressed by Martin Wolf’s ‘Love Our Products’ presentation for new employees. The idea that ingredients could be considered guilty until proven innocent was a completely new concept for me. As a parent and a consumer, I find this idea very comforting. Though I trusted and admired the Seventh Generation brand, I hadn’t really appreciated the genuine difference between Seventh Generation’s offerings and conventional products.

“At Seventh Generation, we create products that are as efficacious as those of the top brands — but we do it by using plant-based ingredients to create healthy products. It’s a simple concept but it’s very powerful. This thoughtful approach to the environment and human health is reflected in the way our sustainability goals guide us. It’s definitely new for me to be at a company that is as conscious of its sustainability goals as it is of its financial ones.

“The other thing that was really surprising to me was the approachability of senior management. As part of orientation, we all sat around a table with CEO John Replogle casually talking about our backgrounds and bouncing ideas off each other. That this accessibility and free exchange of ideas with senior management has continued in day-to-day life here, I find really refreshing compared to other places I’ve worked.

“I immediately felt at home here — more quickly than I had at any previous job. Sweating alongside colleagues from across the company for the cleanup days at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and the Barnes Sustainability Academy was a unique and very ‘Seventh Generation’ way to get to know the community. And any company that appreciates my labradoodle Ruby Ninja coming to the office with me is undoubtedly a great place to work.”

Building a Great Workplace

Workplace Data

 

2011

2012

Employees plus interns

113 + 6

114 + 10

Turnover, Voluntary/Involuntary

9/20

11/5

Dogs in the office

16

21

PAYROLL  $M

12.4

15.6

Best Places to Work in Vermont Survey Ranking (covering the previous year)

2

11

Diversity at Seventh Generation

Our employee compensation policies are discussed here. For more on employee development, see this section.

Engagement

Our mission matters. That’s why we developed an employee engagement program to help us deepen our understanding of how one little company and its committed employees can make a difference on the environmental and social issues facing us today. Combining knowledge with action, our LEAD program has activities that help us: Learn, Engage, Act and Demonstrate.

LEAD program developer, Ashley Orgain, Mission Advocacy and Outreach Manager, explains: “One of the most popular modules was our Innovation Challenge. This sprang from a conversation about what innovation is at Seventh Generation. For us, it means spurring deep change and not just getting more new products out the door. To engage the community in this challenge, we set up a competition for employees to design an innovation to drive positive change in one of our products or processes. We put a $2,500 prize on the line for the winning team.

You could feel the excitement in our café room as fourteen teams gave short presentations to a packed house. The winning idea was a co-branded, customized diapering solution that would use scrap material from an apparel brand’s manufacturing process for the diaper’s outer layer.

It was an exciting, fun experience. To ensure that future sessions yield more actionable ideas, we will identify key issues facing our Business Units ahead of time and focus our challenge efforts around those.”

Each employee is expected to attend four sessions from modules on topics such as Sustainable Self and Plants not Petroleum. Our goal is 100% employee participation with part of our Annual Incentive tied to meeting in this goal for both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, we succeeded, with each of us attending four of the 18 events held during the year.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a way of life at Seventh Generation. The need is great and our tradition of helping is a rich one. We back up our belief in sweat equity by providing our employees 20 paid hours off each year to support worthy community organizations, with fulfillment of our goal of 100 percent participation tied to our Annual Incentive Program. 2012 was an extraordinary year of giving as we logged over 2,700 hours with every single one of us participating and some going above and beyond on their own time.

We painted and picked apples and dug gardens and served food. Here are a few highlights:

Seventh Generation has a special partnership with the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes Elementary School in Burlington, VT. This year, employees donated nearly 900 hours of volunteer time to build an outdoor classroom and natural playground for the Sustainability Academy.

Seventh Generation employees joined hundreds of other supporters at Bolton Valley for The First Annual Bolton or Bust: Breast Cancer Prevention Hike to highlight the importance of breast cancer prevention and benefit the work of the Breast Cancer Fund.

We pitted department against department in a competition to collect food for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, donating an incredible 3,918 pounds, enough to feed 100 families for a month.

Our marketing department volunteered for a day of environmental service at Williams Woods in Charlotte, VT.

Two passionate employees devoted a week to rebuilding wetlands in the Louisiana Gulf with the team from In Good Company.

Employees spent the day at Shelburne Orchards, picking 3,000 pounds of apples for the Vermont Foodbank.

The folks at the local Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) posted this Thank You to our volunteers for their fine work painting, cleaning and planting bulbs.

Giving 2.0

Since Seventh Generation’s earliest days, we have believed that business can be a powerful force for meaningful change in the world. Through work within our industry, advocacy for progressive social and environmental policies, high product standards, transparency, and our donations and volunteering, our company continues to be a catalyst for good. We give both cash and product generously to non-profit organizations working to make the world a better place. In 2012, we formalized our corporate giving program with the formation of the Seventh Generation Foundation.

The Foundation’s mission is to care today for seven generations of tomorrows by stewarding social and environmental progress in the communities where we live, work and do business through education, environmental conservation, research and advocacy.

We aspire to achieve our mission by making grants to non-profit 501c3 organizations that promote and improve environmental conservation, the sustainable use of natural resources and human health and social welfare.

The Foundation operates two grant programs:

  • Sustainability grants: We support U.S. based organizations working to bring about positive change and sustainable solutions by advancing the social and environmental goals we have as a business.
  • VT Community Building grants: We support Vermont organizations working to help future generations thrive by making a positive and lasting difference in children’s lives through progress in education and human and environmental health.

Our giving allows us to breathe life into our aspirations, supporting on-the-ground, issue experts, working for systemic change that builds communities, enhances health and nurtures nature. Significant gifts support the Breast Cancer Fund, Women’s Voices for the Earth and Informed Green Solutions. See “Enhancing Health” for the full story.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Green Ambassadors and Orangutans

“I watched as ten awestruck fifth graders gazed open-mouthed at the four-story tree before them. After a long day of travel they were itching to explore. ‘Do we really get to sleep here?’ one asked before dashing off to climb the tree – much as an orangutan might.

“I accompanied the group of ten, better known as the 'Green Ambassadors', on a trip to The Philadelphia Zoo to learn about the effects of palm oil plantations on the orangutan population.

“Extending our long-standing partnership with the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes, located a few blocks from our office in Burlington, VT, we had 'adopted' the group of budding scientists. They had already visited our office several times to learn about green chemistry and palm oil. Now they were learning first-hand how one company’s decision to use sustainable palm oil can affect the life of an animal on the other side of the planet.

“About 30 percent of the Sustainability Academy’s students are refugees and programs like this give the students a sense that there are people in the world who care. For them to get up close to what they’ve been studying helps them understand why we should care about animals in the wild. It was magical to see them make the connection.

“As young as they are, the Green Ambassadors, or the Orangutan Kids as they call themselves, stand to make an important difference in their school, their community, and their families. “Thanks to what the Green Ambassadors have already shared about choosing renewable ingredients like sustainable palm oil, the Sustainability Academy is working to become an orangutan-friendly school. I’m not sure they know exactly what that means yet, but I do know every one of these kids can explain why the soap they use to wash their hands can have an effect on the life of something very far from here.

“I think it was Nelson Mandela who said that education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world. I think he’s right.”

Ashley describes our partnership with the Sustainability Academy in more detail in this video.

Consumer Engagement

Seventh Generation strives to be a trusted source of information for our consumers about healthy living and healthy homes. Engaging our consumers through lively, transparent messaging on social media, blogs and other means is an important way for us to have a dialogue on the issues of the day. In exploding numbers, our consumers know they can come to us, and to each other, for answers about topics from green cleaning to current environmental health issues to learning about inspiring organizations such as the Breast Cancer Fund that are on the front lines in the battle to reduce our everyday exposure to toxins. Our 2012 consumer engagement campaign was focused on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax and the role of global palm oil demand in shrinking orangutan habitat. Our new Toxin-Free Generation campaign will help consumers understand the prevalence of toxins in common household products and how to make healthier choices.

Our consumers are critical partners in our efforts to reduce our company’s environmental impacts. We know that over 90 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with our laundry detergent occurs during household use for heating wash water and drying clothes. Through blogs such as “The Dirt on Laundry,” we are beginning a dialogue on this issue. Look for more on this topic as we work with others in our industry to encourage low-carbon washing methods. This is the focus of our corporate carbon footprint reduction efforts as we pursue our 2020 Goal of having all consumers wash in cold water.