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Sustainable Business Network: Christus Health

Sustainable Business Network: Christus Health

How does an organization not only stay relevant but also flourish through 150 years of technological and societal changes? By staying committed to its mission. Christus Health, a Catholic faith-based healthcare company, has done just that. Established by a group of sisters in France in 1866, Christus Health has grown become a $6.2 billion global organization with 42,000 associates still dedicated to the original mission: to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to everyone who comes through their doors. “There’s a reason we call our employees associates,” said Ernie Sadau, Christus Health CEO. “We’re a team.” Sadau and other Christus executives spoke on September 30 to a meeting of the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network about how Christus Health is meeting the challenges of managing and growing a complex global organization through building trust among its leaders and associates.

SBN Meeting at Christus Health
SBN Meeting at Christus Health

With locations in the southern United States as well as Mexico, Chile and Colombia, developing leaders in a meaningful and consistent way has become an integral part of Christus Health’s plan for success. And one of the key components of developing leaders is through coaching. “In the past, coaching at Christus had the reputation of being used only when something needed to be fixed,” said Lisa Reynolds, Vice President of Talent Management. “We had to change that perception because we know that coaching is essential to stable and effective leadership and and an engaged workforce.”

Reynolds described for the group the many ways in which Christus uses both internal and external coaches to develop current and potential leaders, from the C-suite to front line associates. “We have an standardized Executive Assimilation Program that uses coaches to introduce new executives to the culture and processes of the organization,” Reynolds said, adding that the program has helped Christus reduce executive turnover by 46%. “In addition, we use coaches to help high potential leaders improve target behaviors. This helps them to develop into effective leaders.”

The Christus coaching philosophy doesn’t only apply to corporate-level managers. All leaders within the organization manage with a coaching approach. “It’s really about trust,” said Scott Hopkins, Director of Leadership Development. “In order to build relationships, we have to have trust. Patients trust associates and associates trust their leaders.” To build this level of trust, Hopkins said that much of Christus’ leadership training focuses on how to have conversations. “Sometimes it’s tough conversations,” he said. “And other times it’s checking in.” To facilitate “checking in,” leaders have regular conversations with associates, asking questions like, “How are you doing?”; “What’s going on in your life outside of work?”; “Do you have any suggestions that could improve our processes or employee safety?”; and “What kinds of tools or equipment could help you do your job?” According to Hopkins, having discussions that focus on the positive creates trust and takes away the stigma of coaching as negative process.

Another key element of building trust among associates and leaders at Christus Health is through recognition. Hopkins said that studies show 65% of people say they received no recognition whatsoever for their work in the past year. “So we developed a Facebook-style forum where leaders can recognize associates,” Hopkins said. “And not only do associates receive organization-wide exposure through this system, but leaders can also award incentive points that associates can use to purchase items on the system website.” Peers can also recognize one another through the forum.

Hopkins added that leaders are encouraged to write handwritten notes to personally recognize outstanding associates. “Imagine the impact of a handwritten note from your boss posted up of the refrigerator for your whole family to see,” he said. “It really engages your heart.”

Hopkins and Reynolds agreed that learning to build trust starts on a leader’s first day. “By creating the expectation of transparency, you build relationships and you develop consistency,” said Reynolds. “Basically,” Hopkins added. “Do what you say you’re going to do.”

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. For more information, visit http://www.udallas.edu/cob/sbn.

The Business of Green Buildings

The Business of Green Buildings

There is no doubt that the jewel of the University of Dallas campus is SB Hall, home of the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business. The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the facility is in process and, once obtained, will support the university’s commitment to energy efficiency and green architecture. A representative from Perkins+Will, the architectural firm that designed SB Hall, along with green building experts from the City of Dallas and Peloton Commercial Real Estate, spoke to a meeting of the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network on April 15, 2014, about the impact of sustainable construction and operational practices on both an organization and the community as a whole.

According to Mary Dickinson, Regional Sustainable Design Leader for Perkins+Will, designing and building a green building is a lot like a trip to the grocery store. “I have a lot of choices when I go to the store,” she said. “Should I buy my usual Jif or should I buy organic peanut butter? I’ve heard organic doesn’t have all those artificial ingredients, but I’m on a budget and doesn’t organic cost a lot more?” In Dickinson’s experience, these questions are similar to the ones an organization will often ask at the beginning of a green building project. “We sit down with them and talk with them about what they’ve heard about the green building process and specifically, LEED certification,” she said. Dickinson’s goal is to find out why the organization is asking about sustainable design, so that the firm can understand the organization’s motivations. “And their answers often sound like they’ve been playing a game of telephone,” she said.

This game of “telephone”—along with its jumble of good and bad information—can result in an organization, or even a whole business sector, holding serious misconceptions about the cost and benefits of sustainable construction. “A perfect example of this is the healthcare sector,” Dickinson said. “Everyone said that you can’t build green hospitals.”

To address this perception, Perkins+Will did a cost premium study that included 15 different LEED certified hospitals and the design firms and contractors associated with the projects. What they found was surprising. “There was actually no cost premium for LEED Silver or below,” she said. “And only a 5% premium for certification above that.” Dickinson also noted that the industry rule of thumb is an 18-month return on the cost premium for building a LEED-certified, sustainable building. “Operational systems like HVAC and lighting give them the most bang for their buck,” she said. “But it all adds up.”

Zaida Basora, Assistant Director of Facility Architecture and Engineering for the City of Dallas, has a unique perspective on the impact of not only green construction, but also of the costs and benefits of retrofitting existing buildings to meet so called “green” building codes. “The City of Dallas has a huge portfolio of buildings,” she said. “We have to balance costs and manage them efficiently.”

According to Basora, owners fall into one of three levels of commitment to a green building project. First-level goals, what she referred to as green, involve the implementation of passive systems such as HVAC along with energy, water and waste reduction. “At the next level–bright green–owners will take a holistic approach and consider sustainable features during the building’s overall design process,” she said. At the highest level–intelligent green–owners install sensors that monitor various systems throughout the building, then collect and analyze the data they produce. “This helps them manage and maintain the facility in the most efficient way possible,” Basora said.

Bill Moebius, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Peloton Commercial Real Estate, discussed Dallas 2030 District, a private-public initiative to create a ground-breaking high-performance building district in downtown Dallas. According to its website, the goal of the organization is to cost-effectively and collaboratively reduce the environmental impact of building construction and operation. The volunteer group consists of property owners and managers, community members and professionals. “We’re using their expertise in different areas like HVAC and landscaping,” Moebius said. “And our target is to reduce water and energy consumption within the district by 50% by 2030.”

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.

Sustainable Business Network: Understanding Big Data

Sustainable Business Network: Understanding Big Data

The phrase “big data”–intriguing to some, unsettling to others—is the common business term for the treasure trove of information companies collect and analyze in hopes making informed, strategic decisions. Representatives from Sabre, United Healthcare and a major global telecommunications provider spoke at the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network event on October 20, 2015, about how their specific organizations balance the need for consumer analytics with their customers’ desire for privacy.

“The ‘Big Data’ department is more like a Silicon Valley start-up,” said the director of big data privacy and compliance for the telecommunications company. “Every day is something new. There’s no one to ask and no manual or practice guide.”

The director said that big data leads to predictive analytics and that data on customer behavior can help companies predict future activity, such as the likelihood of customer “churn,” leaving one communications service provider for another. Because of FCC regulations, however, customers of the telecommunications company must “opt-in” to allow the company to collect anything more than basic service data. The director said bringing in data scientists from unregulated fields who aren’t used to the kinds of regulations to which his company must comply is a particular challenge. “They have great ideas,” he said, “but they don’t fit into what a highly-regulated company can do.”

Dorcinda Pipkin, Data Privacy Manager for Sabre, a global travel services company, said that because her company provides the technology which airlines and hotels use to interact with their own customers, Sabre has to be particularly careful about how consumer data is used. “Our goal is to provide our customers [airlines, hotels and travel services] with information on their travelers that allows them to provide their own customers with better service and pricing, “ she said. “Each contract negotiation includes a detailed description of exactly how the end-consumer’s data will be used.”

Andrew Consolver, Vice President of Information Technology for United Healthcare said that big data helps his company fulfill its mission of helping people live healthier lives. “By interacting with patients, medical providers and employers, we can help individuals by using data about what has helped others who have been on the same path. This not only leads to a better quality of life for patients, it reduces medical costs in general,” Consolver said.

Storing mounds of sensitive data is not without its risks. A question from the audience led the panelists into a discussion of the security of PII, or personally identifiable information. Consolver said that data security is a top priority for United Healthcare. “We have refined and increased the focus on security by orders of magnitude in recent years,” he said.

The telecommunications director described internal processes at his company that keep highly sensitive private data secure. “Our external firewall protects us from outside invaders. Having an internal firewall means that we manually monitor the very few, highly-trusted individuals that have access to sensitive data,” he said.

The panelists agreed that although data scientists at their respective companies may present new and innovative ways to cull and analyze customer data, it is ultimately up to the compliance teams to determine whether these activities meet their internal privacy regulations. “We have to ask ourselves,” the telecommunications director said, “’What are the ethical implications of mining this data?’”

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Click here for information on the next SBN event.

Texas Instruments: A Commitment to Ethics

Texas Instruments: A Commitment to Ethics

According to David Solomon, Vice President and Director of Ethics at Texas Instruments, a respect for history is an important part of the TI culture. From its beginnings as an oil exploration company in the 1930s and throughout its evolution into a $13 billion dollar leader in the technology industry, ethics have also been an integral part of the company’s core values. “What we have behind us is a long history of doing the right thing,” Solomon said, “as well as the momentum to keep doing it.” Solomon spoke on July 24, 2015 to a group of local business leaders on the topic of ethics and compliance as part of the University of Dallas’ Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business Sustainable Business Network event. Texas Instruments hosted over 80 attendees from a variety of local companies, including Oncor, Sabre, PepsiCo, Bell Helicopter, Fidelity Investments, Cucina Antiqua, along with a large cohort from AT&T.

“A true commitment to ethics comes from the top,” Solomon said. “TI’s leaders establish the ‘tone at the top’ by communicating to the entire their own commitment to doing business the right way.” In order to ensure that everyone at Texas Instruments understands the importance of ethical behavior, Solomon travels to TI sites around the world speaking with leaders and employees to help them understand the company’s code of conduct.

In 2015, Texas Instruments was named as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Magazine for the 9th consecutive year and was named 2nd in Industry on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies list for 12th consecutive year. Solomon believes that TI has achieved these accolades because ethics is a priority for everyone in the company. “We have always had an open door policy at TI,” Solomon said. To reinforce this, the company has established 13 mostly anonymous channels for employees to communicate concerns about ethics or compliance.

Solomon also addressed how an emphasis on ethics affects the company’s global interests. “We want to do business the right way at Texas Instruments. We carry the message around the world–into countries or cultures where employees might be reluctant to report a compliance issue,” he said. According to Solomon, this commitment to ethics helps TI recruit top-quality employees. “Telling our story helps us recruit the right people. They want to work for a good company,” he said.

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.

Sustainable Business Network Hosts Frito Lay Fleet Innovators

Sustainable Business Network Hosts Frito Lay Fleet Innovators

The fleet division of Frito Lay was once only a footnote in the PepsiCo annual report. But since creating a vision in 2005 to become a world class fleet, Frito Lay has become an industry leader in the use of alternative fuels and electric vehicles.

On September 28, 2014, at an event hosted by the University of Dallas’ Sustainable Business Network, a group of local business leaders heard from Steve Hanson and Ken Marko how Frito Lay based its vision of becoming a world class fleet on the platforms of reliability, sustainability, and capability. “We knew that being able to put or products on the shelf reliably while saving on fuel costs and carbon emissions would lead to improved performance and improved service to our customers,” said Marko, the company’s Senior Fleet Sustainability Manager. The goal of Frito Lay’s fleet division is a 50% reduction in the use of traditional fuels by 2020.

Hanson, Director of Fleet Engineering for Frito Lay, explained to the group the logistical problems associated with the transition of its tractor trailer fleet from traditional to compressed natural gas vehicles, which currently make up 30% of the company’s fleet. In addition to working with manufacturers to create the trucks themselves, the company had to invest in infrastructure associated with fueling stations large enough to service tractor trailers. Frito Lay also invested heavily in the education of its drivers, realizing that a company-wide culture of sustainability was necessary for the success of the fleet transition. As a result of the company’s commitment to alternative fuels, the tractor trailer fleet has saved 5,000,000 gallons of diesel and 13,000 metric tons of emission annually.

Another integral part of Frito Lay’s commitment to sustainability is its shift to electric box trucks for its short-range delivery drivers. Marko explained that the company took advantage of government stimulus money to launch its electric vehicle program by buying 155 trucks before they had even committed to a pilot program. “It was a risk. It was not practical, but it was the right thing to do,” said Marko. One of the key components of the success during this transition was the education of the route drivers. Because these drivers are commissioned salespeople, their buy-in was crucial to the company’s sustainability plan. “Our people see the long term benefits of electric vehicles. I spoke to a driver who said, ‘I don’t want to contribute to the pollution my grandkids will have to clean up,’” said Marko. Frito Lay’s goal is to have the largest box truck fleet in the world and to eliminate 500 million gallons of diesel and five metric tons of CO2 from the environment.

Following the presentations Hanson, Marko, and Cynthia Baker, Director of Corporate Communications for PepsiCo, took questions from the audience about the logistics of the company’s sustainability plan. The speakers encouraged audience members to contact them personally for more information about the company’s fleet program.

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts.

The University of Dallas Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an open forum for building relationships, exchanging best practices, and fostering dialogue around issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and eco-innovation, and corporate governance. Hosted by the AACSB-accredited Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas, SBN hosts quarterly events and panel discussions on relevant topics led by recognized industry experts. Information on the next SBN event can be found at here.