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.
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."