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December 27, 2001
SBI Promotes Responsible Business Practices Alongside Profits
    by Trevor Snorek-Yates

The Sustainable Business Institute is working to spread its vision of sustainability to business leaders and the public.


The Sustainable Business Institute (SBI), a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in San Jose, California, is promoting the understanding of sustainability in the business community and beyond. SBI defines "sustainability" as the ability to meet today's global economic, environmental and social needs without compromising the same opportunity for future generations.

SBI Executive Director Jessica Fullmer founded the organization with a group of like-minded business leaders in 1995. The founders viewed environmental regulation not so much as an obstacle to profit, as was commonly perceived, but more as a stimulus for new business paradigms.

SBI advances the notion of sustainability on an international scale through a series of initiatives. Its annual CEO Forum on Sustainable Business enables executives to discuss sustainability among peers. It also created the SBI Seal of Sustainability to recognize businesses that practice sustainability in an exemplary fashion. SBI's other efforts include media outreach programs and youth leadership projects.

"The CEO Forum was actually the first initiative we started with," Ms. Fullmer explained. "That's all we did for three years. It was so successful that we wanted to support these people, the attendees, with other programs and from there we launched our PBS show."

SBI's Fifth Annual CEO Forum on Sustainable Business will take place in the fall of 2002.

SBI launched the Seal of Sustainability in March of 2001 and recently awarded STMicroelectronics (ticker: STM) the Seal for its leadership in environmentally and socially responsible practices. SBI evaluates companies based on several criteria: success in achieving sustainability goals; maintaining and enhancing real or projected profitability; demonstrating a commitment to sustainable business practices; exceeding minimum regulatory requirements; and setting new standards within an industry or business sector through SBI programs.

Former recipients of the Seal of Sustainability include Novozymes Biotech, General Motors (ticker: GM), Portland, Oregon-based Hot Lips Pizza, and Woodland, California-based Puroast Coffee Co. Inc.

"Most everyone feels it isn't a matter of 'what' or 'if', but 'to what extent' our prior choices with our natural resources will have an impact on our quality of life," said Ms. Fullmer. "The Seal of Sustainability is offered in the spirit of the Good Housekeeping Seal. It refers to the actions and programs and the sustainability goals and objectives businesses adopt. The example of Hot Lips Pizza, with just two restaurants and a third scheduled to open, being awarded the Seal shows that it's meant to target the small 'mom and pop' shops, as well as large manufacturers like GM."

Ms. Fullmer's vision for the future is to see sustainability become a household word. "Much in the same way 'quality' was once hard to define, it now exists everywhere. It was once a fuzzy word and now it's just how you do business. We would like to see SBI be a catalyst so sustainability is the way we all do business."

 

 
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