April 10, 2019
Sustify: Creating A Culture Of Sustainability In Factories
For Sonja Westphal, becoming a founder in the startup world wasn’t a decision, rather a process of exploration, curiosity, and pure ambition. Inspired by the vibrant energy of accelerators in Berlin’s startup ecosystem, she merged her passion for sustainability and background in supply chain management into a digital solution that educates factory workers in Southeast Asia on environmental issues.
By focusing on micro-interaction based learning and making education accessible and measurable, Sustify sets a standard for spreading awareness, improving work conditions, and making sustainable operations. It’s an em-powerful way to build foundational knowledge and ignite the potential to bring about changes for a healthier earth.
Measuring Education And Capacity Building
Having experienced classroom training in Asian factories, Sonja realized a lack of metrics and transparency for educational impact, especially given the high investment. Typically, factories only track the frequency of events and employee attendance.
“Everything is an opportunity to improve.”
Applying this to a worker-centered understanding, she accounted for numerous differences between the heterogeneous group of factory workers across India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Along the way, her team had to learn how to properly incorporate language and cultural differences into a training platform for a digitally illiterate group.
“I learned that illiterate actually meant non-digital. Some [workers] were scared to touch a screen. ”
Their pilot app features a course in fire and building safety. Her team had to develop a facial recognition module to enable factory workers to login without the assistance of a manager. This also insured that there would be no cheating. It a tech solution for accessibility that boosts individual capacity.
However, the challenge is aligning the knowledge gained by workers’ in the training with macro-issues on sustainability. “It’s not about controlling, test, or making audits. It#s about bringing sustainable practices to life. It isn’t a hobby. You have to try to make it live in every aspect of culture,” stresses Sonja. All modern enterprise should value transparency and sustainability for the sake of it, not due to political or economic pressure.
Even though the increased government pressure for brands and retailers to open up about their supply chain would seem to spark a green policy diaspora, there are many tiers in every industry and a fair share of kinks in the chain. The standards to uphold and certifications to pass hold deeper values and often their importance gets lost in the links due to a lack of transparency.
“It isn't easy to define the best strategy or practice for responsibility, but being the best is difficult for a reason. ”
Add tech solutions to the bottom up and it presents a killer opportunity for actual improvement, a steep learning curve, and more clarity. Stepping into the micro and providing basic accessibility and education essentially activates movement in a synchronized direction where roles, function, and purpose start to come alive. Employees in manufacturing can start to genuinely understand what they are doing and form new connections to labor, society, and the ecosystem.
“Learning opens doors and increases awareness about your environment. To build anything healthy and flourishing you have to at least maintain its environment. ”
By focusing elements of humanity, dimensional values to the global production line. With increasing potential to realize their own capacities, employees have the agency to initiate sustainable action and call natural checks on the system, all while transitioning from an analog to a digital literate domain. These life skills are an added benefit to increase profit and bridge inequality gaps. A business model also operates as a call to action: manufacturing companies and their values should drive industry standards that invest in sustainability.