Business is Thriving in Vancouver
The Vancouver Economic Commission asked us to help them build a big idea around the City of Vancouver’s “Greenest City Action Plan”, an ambitious plan by the Mayor to reduce carbon, and increase green activities. The Vancouver Economic Commission’s responsibility within the GCAP was to green jobs and green businesses.
We studied greening business programs from 47 cities across the United States including Chicago, San Francisco, Houston and others. Through interview research with leaders of these programs, one overall challenge they were experiencing was engaging businesses. One of the things we found was that there was more “work” for a business to do on the engagement platforms than there was time available for the businesses. For example, while a 200 question survey for the business to get started in the program was an essential objective for the city, it was a barrier for the business. From our perspective with years of experience with usability – this was a sure sign of preventing participation. In addition, we noticed the benefits for the businesses weren’t clear, including the fact that the businesses weren’t showcased for their positive efforts. To create a “norm”, to make sustainability scale, we believe you need to provide a wide range of benefits to “nudge” businesses in the right direction. This means “making sustainability easier” and giving rewards for making that change, like improving their brand reputation, and increasing their clout and profile.
We looked carefully at what motivated business owners from the in-depth research we reviewed. For business owners, revenue, new customers, employee productivity and profitability were all important, in addition to being thought leaders in the community. For employees, sustainability was very important as a value for themselves and in their company, and they were already demonstrating these values in their own actions and social media conversations.
Thriving Vancouver is a digital platform that is both an opportunity to build the VEC’s brand and reputation as a connector and thought leader, and as a marketing platform solution to help achieve the GCAP goals of greening business by maximizing impact and reach through digital and social marketing. We created beautiful video profiles and wrote feature articles in the business spotlight which shows business leaders who are creating positive change in sustainability.The platform, integrated with LinkedIn helps “Thriving Vancouver Businesses” green their operations. The “Green Score” shows each business their own private appraisal of their operations on a sustainability scale, provides customized access to advisors and content to help them increase their score. A business directory shows “Thriving Businesses” who have affirmed their desire to contribute to being a more sustainable company towards climate change. The Idea Hub and Forum allows businesses to ask for, share and give advice to their community of peers.
The Thriving Vancouver platform soft launches in November, and several of the top sustainability advisors have joined the community. We have engendered the support of leaders and companies like Andrea Goertz, the SVP of Sustainability of TELUS, and John Nightingale, the CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium endorsing the initiative.