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Environmental Sustainability at Work

8th Leading Edge Consortium a Success, Features Virtual Attendees Across the Country

Stephany Schings Below
Communications Manager

The 2012 Leading Edge Consortium (LEC), “Environmental Sustainability at Work: Advancing Research, Enhancing Practice,” brought out some of the best and brightest in the field of environmental sustainability October 19 and 20 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana!

Chaired by Sara Weiner, with Science Cochairs Stephan Dilchert and Deniz Ones, and Practice Chair Mark Schmit, the 2012 LEC was a weekend full of excellent speakers, informative presentations, and numerous opportunities to participate in the discussion of advancing and developing environmental sustainability practices in the workplace.

 “The attendees’ passion around this topic will surely lead to groundbreaking, innovative, and lasting research ideas and practical applications,” Weiner said. “I hope this conference has sparked personal dedication to widen the attention on this topic that is so essential to the earth’s and humankind’s health and longevity.”

Attendees heard from 11 speakers on topics including creating sustainable effective organizations, the state of HR practice in sustainability, employee green behaviors, sustainable cultures, global sustainability, leveraging HR practices to drive environmental sustainability efforts at PepsiCo, environmental sustainability and employee engagement at 3M, creating and growing a culture of sustainability, staffing for environmental sustainability, the O*NET program’s view on green occupations, why and how to include environmental sustainability in I-O practice,  and embedding sustainability in mainstream companies. Attendees and presenters came from across the United States and the world, with some traveling from as far as Germany and France to attend the event.

This year, in light of the sustainability theme, SIOP also held its first ever virtual forums. The virtual forums brought together nearly 100 attendees at 11 sites throughout the United States and Canada who watched a live video feed of Friday’s presentations. Virtual attendees participated in the program via social media, posting questions to speakers via Twitter and e-mail, which were then relayed to the presenters live during question and answer sessions.

In addition to allowing those who couldn’t make the trip to New Orleans to participate in the LEC, the virtual forums also helped the environment. Under conservative assumptions (two people per hotel room, cab sharing, most direct flight routes), the 105 virtual attendees would have caused CO2 emissions of 37.65 metric tons. So the virtual forums saved the emissions equivalent of 8.4 Honda Accords driven for 1 year!

The LEC kicked off with a keynote address titled “Creating Sustainable Effective Organizations: Management Reset Needed” by Edward E. Lawler III,  Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and founder and director of the University’s Center for Effective Organizations (CEO).

During his presentation, Lawler noted that organizations operate with different goals today than they did in the past. Organizations today need to operate in ways that lead to both agility and responsible behavior, he explained. As the world changes, companies need to be able to adapt quickly to those changes.

“There is no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage,” he said, also noting that companies must be environmentally and socially responsible as they adapt.

The program also included a “Company Insights Module,” which featured three presentations—”Global Sustainability, Global Responsibility”; “Leveraging HR Practices to Drive Environmental Sustainability Efforts at PepsiCo”; and “Sustaining Our Future: Environmental Sustainability and Employee Engagement at 3M”—that described practice insights into how I-O psychologists can play a role in shaping environmentally sustainable organizations.

At the end of Friday, before breaking into small groups to enjoy the popular “networking dinners” at a choice of four New Orleans restaurants Friday night, attendees also enjoyed a beautiful reception in the Royal Ballroom of the hotel. For the networking dinners, attendees dined at area restaurants to discuss the day’s events with old and new friends while they got a taste of the famous New Orleans cuisine.

Other presentations included a lunchtime speaker Friday, Marie Puybaraud, director of Global Workplace Innovation at Johnson Controls, who traveled all the way from France to present “Sustainable Cultures: Creating Greener Workplaces for All!”

The“Environmental Sustainability Consulting” session was held Saturday and included “Going After the Green: Why and How to Include Environmental Sustainability in I/O Practice” by  John Muros, Senior HR Consultant, AT&T, and “Embedding Sustainability in Mainstream Companies,” by  Anna Clark, president of EarthPeople, a sustainability communications firm.

After thanking the LEC chair and cochairs and presenting them with tokens of appreciation, SIOP President Doug Reynolds announced the information for next year’s event.

The SIOP 2013 Leading Edge Consortium will be held October 18–19 in Richmond, Virginia, at the Richmond Omni. The theme of that event will be talent management.

We hope to see you next year in Richmond!


LEC Reception Left: Attendees meet and greet during the Thursday welcome reception, held in the lovely Riverview Room.
LEC Chairs Mark Schmitt LEC Chairs Sara Weiner, Stephan Dilchert, Deniz Ones (left) and Mark Schmitt (right) worked for over a year to plan the event.
Edward Lawler Marie Puybaraud Friday included a presentation from Edward Lawler (far left), who opened the event with his keynote address, and Marie Puybaraud, who travelled all the way from France to speak about Johnson Controls initiatives.
Hotel Monteleone The lobby of the Hotel Monteleone (left) presented attendees with a view of old South opulence. Trent Burner (right) presented his findings on sustainability plans at Walmart. Trent Burner
Anna Clark John Muros Anna Clark (far left) gave examples of both personal and corporate sustainability opportunities during her Saturday session. John Muros' presentation on Saturday was both informative and entertaining.