(3BL Media/Justmeans) — On Day 2 of the Responsible Business Summit RBSNY17, Jim Keane, the CEO of office furniture-maker Steelcase, said that according to a national survey, 66% of all employees are disengaged. This laid down another gauntlet for leaders—to talk about employee engagement. Keane said that for Steelcase, it was about treating their human resources with the same care as other resources. He cited three principles of engagement. The first is Purpose. Each employee should have a clear sense of how they fit in and how they contribute to the overall mission of the company. The second is Connection. They ask their employees, “do you have a best friend at work?” Finally, there is Progress. Are you learning, growing feeling like you are accomplishing something?
Keane then talked about how they moved their executive officers down from the top floor to the ground floor, so as to be more accessible to employees. From there, they practiced their own version of MBWA (management by walking around).
DSM, originally Dutch State Mines, is a company you’ve probably never heard of. They have a story of adaptability that’s relevant and informative. Founded in 1902 as a coal mining company, 50-plus years later, despite success, they saw coal as having a limited future, so they moved into chemicals and plastics. But as they began to incorporate sustainability into their vision, they again moved away from petrochemicals and into pharmaceuticals, bio-plastics, and sustainable agriculture. CEO Hugh Welsh told the audience that the company operates with an internal carbon price of €50 per tonne, higher than the EU price, set up so that each department must factor in the carbon impact of any activities as a budget item. As a member of RE100, they are committed to a target of 100% renewable power. But then this company took it even a step further by tying variable executive pay (i.e. stock options and bonuses) directly to sustainability goals. During the Q&A that followed, an audience member asked if their CFO had any problem with this new bonus plan. In fact, Welsh said, “our CFO did have a problem with it.” When asked what they did about that, Welsh flatly replied, “we got a new CFO.”