If you think sustainability is just about the environment, then you may be surprised. Sustainability is something that we as a company have strived to understand more over the years, even as our hometown- the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan- has become one of the greenest communities in the United States.
In truth, commitment to the environment is just one part of a much larger journey- one that includes multiple functions and policies, from human rights to renewable energy, employee development to materials chemistry. All of these unique corporate, social and environmental touch points contribute to our growing understanding of sustainability and the new responsibility we have as a global company.
I invite you to take a look at our online report, which captures what we’ve learned over the last year. We measured our impacts around the world, from Grand Rapids to Rosenheim to Monterrey to Dongguan, and reported them here. But stats aside, I encourage you to look through the stories of progress, innovation, and hope that fill its pages. Here are some of my favorites:
- Driving 6,500 miles in ten days across France, Spain and Morocco; that’s exactly what two Steelcase employees did in a 27-year-old 4L Renault car to help distribute humanitarian supplies in the Moroccan desert. Team CIS Steelcase Challengers joined 1,300 other teams in the Trophy Desert Car Race to deliver more than 35 tons of school supplies and clothing to small villages. Steelcase France sponsored the expedition, bringing the racers a lifetime of memories and local villagers much-needed goods.
- Along with professors from Grand Valley State University, Steelcase researchers began investigating the feasibility of a solar-powered desk. The idea was to configure a solar system to power a laptop for eight hours in an outdoor environment. Together with students, GVSU professors developed a two-panel solution that’s now being tested. Simultaneously a different opportunity emerged from an unlikely source – one of the professor’s cousins, a doctor in Malawi, Africa. How could she incorporate solar power into her practice? Soon, plans were being reviewed by team members, including Steelcase’s IT Innovation Management office and prototypes developed. Today, many of the doctor’s patients are benefiting from solar-powered lighting and a solar-powered surgery suction machine.
These are just a few examples within a strong sustainability track record that is the direct result of the dedication and commitment, innovation and relentless creativity of our employees. But we know there’s always more that can be done, tougher standards to hold ourselves to, and challenges we can attempt to solve that will positively impact our business and our world.
I hope the stories in this report are a launching point for action and a source of inspiration for others, as we continue to fulfill our promises at Steelcase.