We got a nice note from a client the other day, thanking us for the “care and competence” shown by one of our consultants in completing a project. This helped me realize, as our organization marks 17 years in business and our upcoming second anniversary as EarthShift Global, how gratifying it is to be an independent business, with the ability to set and meet our own standards for how we go about our work.
With this in mind, I thought I’d take a moment to explain some of those standards.
First and foremost, we exist to help our clients achieve their goals for better prosperity through sustainability, whatever they might be on a given project. This sounds like a simple thing, but it’s easy to lose sight of. Much of our work involves digging through results to find leverage points where our clients can make changes that provide multiple benefits—like reducing costs or helping their customers solve a problem. This is why, as the EarthShift Global team expands, we seek out people who have not only top-notch professional skills, but also curiosity, the willingness to listen, and an attitude of helpfulness. I like to think that everyone in our organization shares an instinctive desire to be of service to others, and a sense of satisfaction when we are.
Which leads to our second standard: the process of achieving sustainability goals should be friendly, efficient, transparent, and collaborative, whatever challenges might emerge along the way. This isn’t just about being pleasant (important as that is). It’s good business, for us and our clients, because valuable time can be devoted to the tasks at hand rather than hashing out misunderstandings. Good working relationships mean good value for everyone.
A third standard, which we feel strongly about, is data ownership. All data collected during EarthShift Global client projects belongs to the client. They are free to use, share, and publish it however they like, and we will gladly facilitate the process by putting it into an online model for easier access. Not all consultants take this position, but we think it’s a common-sense approach that’s in the spirit of both sustainability philosophy and scientific inquiry.
That scientific spirit is also part of our fourth standard: that we will always be data-driven and rigorous in our analysis and presentation of findings. One of the challenges of sustainability research is that there is often a great deal of nuance in the results. As much as everyone might want to make a bold, blanket statement about the results of a Life Cycle Assessment or Impact Assessment, it’s not always possible to do so. And we’ve found that resisting the temptation to overstate is always the smart choice – it keeps everyone on a solid footing and builds credibility, so that when a bold statement is possible, it provides maximum impact.
Lastly, our business practices support the principle of building better relationships between human culture and the natural world, in socially equitable and economically sound ways. This is why we’re in this business in the first place, and it shows in large and small ways – the types of projects we undertake, our participation in standards development and other global sustainability community activities, and our commitment to empowering clients with new knowledge.
It’s not always easy being one of the 28 million small businesses in the US. And living up to our standards is, like the ongoing American pursuit of our national values, a matter of aspiration as well as actuality. But I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to aspire and actualize with such a committed group of colleagues and distinguished clients.
About the Author: Lise Laurin, CEO and Founder of EarthShift Global
Lise is a pioneer in Sustainability Return on Investment (S-ROI) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). She continues to develop and leverage sustainability consulting services, LCA as well as SROI software and training programs to build organizational capacity in driving large-scale change. Her unique skill set and knowledge base has put her in demand globally by companies, organizations and governments alike.