Life at DHG Podcast Series

Episode 53: Making an Impact Through Sustainability

DHG IMPACT is how we brand corporate citizenship, explaining how we care for our people and the world around us. This podcast features Scott Yandle, a senior manager in DHG’s Greenville office, sharing how small changes in the office can truly make a great impact on our people and the environment at the same time.

Episode 53 Transcript:

AGH: Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of our DHG podcast series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I love this venue because we get to hear about the things that matter the most to us – flexibility, careers and of course, our people.

Today, we’re going to focus on sustainability. Sustainability is quickly becoming one of the great differentiators in companies. I just returned from a great place to work conference, and there was a lot of buzz about sustainability in the workplace. People really care about the environment and the work that their employer is doing to make the world a better place.

At DHG, we’re taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint. Some steps are smaller than others, but several of our offices are eliminating plastic water bottles. Instead, we have water coolers and encourage people to use those. We’re selecting lead-certified office locations when we move to new spaces if there is one and it’s practical.

When moving or renovating an office space, we’re utilizing energy efficient appliances and practices, such as lights that come on and off when you leave the room. Many of our break rooms are even going cup-less. Last year we launched Chuck a Cup Day, which was a huge success and many of our offices said, “Hey, this was great.” We’re going to do this forever.

My guest today will talk about what they’re doing here in Greenville, South Carolina. Of course, being accountants, using paper is an issue that we have. However, we do use a shred company who shreds and recycles our paper, and we are working towards making a dent in the amount of paper waste that we have.

Without further ado, we have invited Scott Yandle. He’s a Senior Manager and Auditor, who’s looking mighty dapper today and getting ready to meet with a client after he has this podcast with me. Scott is on our IMPACT committee, and our Greenville, South Carolina office has just done some major things through the IMPACT committee. Welcome, Scott.

SY: Thank you.

AGH: Talk to me about your passion. I was shocked when I found out you were so passionate about sustainability. Why don’t you tell us why you are so passionate?

SY: Sure. I think what has really led to my excitement about this as being part of our IMPACT committee and working with people that are really super passionate about sustainability, like Becca Wilson, who has a sustainability background and she’s just been a great champion to work with and help teach me about the importance of sustainability. She works with our team to help create ideas on how we can reduce our carbon footprint and really understand how the small changes can really make a big difference.

AGH: Yeah, it’s pretty interesting. We recently switched to a new travel management system, and I’m curious once we get – once we’re able to have data on mouse people travel, if we’re going to begin doing some things differently. There are so many cool possibilities that we have around sustainability here.

SY: Absolutely. With the video meetings, I mean we can have meetings without that travel. It is pretty interesting.

AGH: Talk to me a little bit about Greenville, South Carolina and what the Greenville office is doing.

SY: Sure. The first thing that we did was take an assessment of all of the ways that we are currently trying to be more green or sustainable; recycling. We had some clients from our agro- business come in and talk about the importance of farm to table and how eating local and using local produce really affects the way the world works.

We found that the lunch and learn that we did with our local businesses was so well attended, people stayed after to talk to the farmers about it and really showed that people were interested in sustainability in our office. I think that’s what really spurred some of the things we’ve been doing. For example, one of the things we did was we switched all of our paper products to biodegradable companies.

AGH: That’s awesome.

SY: We no longer have plastic utensils. All that stuff we use is biodegradable, and we have some exciting stuff coming up here in the next month. For Earth Day, we are chucking the cup permanently.

AGH: No more cups in the Greenville office.

SY: No more cups. It’s interesting; we were looking at the beginning. I was like, “Okay, yeah. We can figure out a way to chuck the cup and maybe save the firm a little bit of money and not having these paper cups.” Then it became much more about, “Let’s do something really cool for our employees and also save the planet at the same time.”

AGH: What cool thing are you doing?

SY: The build-up, right? We are going to have YETI’s made for everyone in the office with their names on them, so it’s a personalized thing. That is going to provide them the tool to keep their cold drinks cold and their hot drinks hot. It will help everyone reduce their footprint when we no longer have the trash from those drinks as well.

AGH: Nobody can steal your cup.

SY: That’s right. It’s going to have your name on it.

AGH: It’s got your name on it?

SY: The other side of that is one of the complaints that we heard about in the very beginning, or problems that we needed to solve was the washing of the cups, or people leaving their cups around. We will be developing some type of box –

AGH: Chore chart.

SY: It would be a box that we put YETI’s that are left around the office, and you’re going to have to pay $5 to charity to get your cup out if you leave it around.

AGH: Wow. It’s brilliant.

SY: Not only be doing saving the planet, but also helping our local community places

AGH: That’s awesome.

SY: – with donations.

AGH: That is really cool.

SY: We are very excited, we announced it at our town hall a couple months ago, and people stood up, and cheered and were excited.

AGH: Yay. Well, that is great, because it is a big change management move to take away cups.

SY: It is. It’s been tried in our office for several years actually and has – at the very beginning somebody would say that we can’t do that. Then it just died right there. But with the IMPACT committee and with Greg Taylor, our partner in charge of our office, our office Managing Partner, he has really given us the power to make things happen. I think that he’s empowered us to say, these are the things that the leaders in our office want to do and let’s do them. It’s really exciting to have that ability to make some change in the office and, it seems that everybody likes it.

AGH: That is super. Okay, so what are some of our goals here around sustainability?

SY: Yeah. Our IMPACT committee is meeting after busy season; we have a summit where we all get together for about 30 minutes on each topic to talk about what our goals for 2018, 2019 will be. I talk with Becca Wilson, who I mentioned earlier who is the head of our sustainability pillar for IMPACT in the Greenville office.

She outlined a couple of things to me that she’s really interested in focusing on; paper consumption is the first piece and we’re really looking at how we can go paperless during meetings. I will tell myself would be very difficult for me to not have a lot of paper, or try to reduce my paper usage, but I’m willing to work on it, I’m sure like anybody else.

AGH: Yup, me too. I’m with you on that.

SY: The second piece is really looking at the overall trash that we bring in to the office because recycling helps with a problem. We want to try to get to the root cause of the problem, so we want to try to reduce the overall trash that’s brought into the office, or that people use. That’s something else we’re going to look at and maybe trying to think of creative ways like centralized trash, so you have to get up out of your desk to throw something away.

AGH: Which also helps our health pillar.

SY: That’s correct. You get a couple of steps in. People in the Greenville office right now, they’re listening to this, they’re probably like fainting that we’re thinking about these things. That’s something that we’re looking at and really just thinking about some of our clients that maybe have some sustainability issues, so they could come in and conduct a lunch and learn that will educate us on how we can do better, or what kind of services are provided to help make this a better place.

AGH: Yeah. That’s awesome. I love it. 

SY: It’s exciting.

AGH: It is very exciting. Well, I can’t help but ask you this. We’re going to move past sustainability. While I have you here, you are a senior manager. I’ve been with you all along the way here at DHG. We’ve moved up together.

SY: That’s right.

AGH: What advice can you give someone who is just beginning their career?

SY: I think I have really benefitted from a mentor. I think being a mentor and having a mentor is super important for someone’s career. Having a mentor that will have an honest conversation with you and tell you, “Hey, Scott. You could’ve done that a lot better.” Not just say, “Yeah, these are great things for you.”

Take ownership of your career and saying, “I want to help you get to the next level, or to an ultimate goal.” Then being able to repay that to someone else, as someone that’s hoping that they can do that and they’re a part of helping to do that for others has really been rewarding to me. It’s probably one of the best parts about my job is to help someone else that’s passionate about being an accountant, or having a career I guess really is what it is.

AGH: Growing that career.

SY: Helping them get to the next level and achieve something makes you feel good. I think that that’s – what advice I would give, also arriving early. Be the early bird.  They always say the early bird gets the worm, but really, the early bird just doesn’t get interrupted when you can answer e-mails, or get really focused on something when other people are not awake. You can get that done, or exercise in the morning before you get to work. Those type of things you can be really successful by getting to work a little bit earlier or getting your day started a little earlier. 

AGH: Getting your day started. That’s awesome. Okay, I’m going to give you a high-five. Everybody out there we’ve got a virtual high-five. Thank you for joining us.

SY: Yes, no problem.

AGH: This was awesome. Thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our life beyond numbers.

Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.