March 15, 2023 / 2 minute read
We Can't Achieve Sustainability Goals Without Partnerships
Written by Nicole Voss, Director of Sustainability
When I interviewed for this job about two years ago, I spoke candidly and transparently about my ideas and goals for sustainability in the ADS business. As I walked out of the room, Scott Barbour, our CEO, told me my ideas made him uncomfortable. I remember thinking to myself that I’d blown it, and there was no way I’d get the position. But not even an hour later, my now-boss called to offer me the job, saying Scott had been impressed with my candor; he wanted to surround himself with people who would tell him what he didn’t know.
Who we surround ourselves with matters, in work and in life. It is no secret that the right people and partnerships can help an individual achieve both personal and professional goals. That approach applies to companies, too.
At ADS, we have been thoughtful about the sustainability partnerships we have chosen to pursue, and it has paid off. I spend a lot of time with the data, and I know we could not have made the strides we’ve made toward our ambitious sustainability goals without our partners.
For example, we are one of three founding partners of The Ohio State University Sustainability Institute, started in 2019. That partnership allows us to provide some of our products to a real-world lab on campus in which students can test how water management systems function — and share the results of their experiences with us.
Each year, I work with a group of Ohio State students studying environment, economy, development and sustainability. The goal is to help them learn how to achieve sustainability goals in a business environment through real-world projects, but they also bring insights that help us advance toward our own goals. They have assisted in helping us understand the life cycle of our products and researched the ups and downs of the plastics credit economy. This year, I intend to have them assist in strategy for our Science-Based Targets for Greenhouse Gas emissions reductions and our biodiversity policy.
Through the ADS Foundation, we also recently announced a three-year partnership with The Nature Conservancy to help protect and improve waterways and watersheds in four key states: California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas. These are places where ADS has a growing presence, and supporting water protection efforts in the places we work, and our employees live and play, is a critical part of our brand promise: “To protect and manage water, the world’s most precious resource, safeguarding our environment and communities.”
And we have long partnered with the Columbus Blue Jackets as its official sustainability partner. Ice is water, after all.
These partnerships benefit us in ways large and small, through new insights into the science behind water management and a deeper understanding of how our products function in the world. More, they allow us to have a real, positive impact on the environment that surrounds us. Finally, they are effective because they align with our brand promise.
I’d challenge you to consider the partnerships your own business has in place — or partnerships it perhaps should consider pursuing. What does your company value? What priority goals would you like to pursue? And how can you build relationships with other organizations whose goals line up with yours?
It is a cliche, but perhaps that is because it is true: individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean.