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Partnering: The New Path Forward

November 01, 2012

By: Brandon Tidwell, Brandon Tidwell is Manager of Sustainability for Darden Restaurants.

Partnering: The New Path Forward

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Sustainability, among other things, is about preparing today for a better tomorrow. To do this, we all must work together with members of local communities, government representatives and nonprofit organizations to help shape our future. As one cohesive team, we have an opportunity to drive stronger initiatives forward and achieve more impactful results. This was the theme of the Net Impact Conference I attended in Baltimore last week.

Net Impact, a nonprofit organization comprised of more than 30,000 inspired and committed individuals, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of bringing together “a new generation of leaders committed to using their careers to benefit not just the bottom line, but people and planet too.” Filling the conference halls were representatives from dozens of corporations, hundreds of nonprofit organizations, and thousands of undergraduate and graduate business students anxious to learn how they could use their careers to make a positive impact.

One of my favorite conference seminars described the relationship between a waste management company and a nonprofit recycling organization. Together, they are working city-by-city to change the infrastructure in local communities that will support waste behavior change for thousands of residents. In the end, the partnership results in residents sending less waste to landfills and more products being made from recycled content.

At Darden, our work simply wouldn’t happen without the partnerships we’ve formed. For example we are:

·       Sourcing more sustainable seafood with the advisement of the New England Aquarium

·       Improving the Gulf Fishery with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Publix Super Markets

·       Reducing the impact of beef production on the environment via The Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef

·       Reducing food waste through our work with the Food Donation Connection and alignment with the Food Waste Recovery Alliance, a joint effort of the Grocers Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association

·       Building a more sustainable supply chain through the science of The Sustainability Consortium

Evidenced by these partnerships and the holistic message from Net Impact, partnerships can elevate efforts to “do good” by exponentially increasing the number of people impacted—ultimately allowing you to achieve even greater results. For Darden, we’ve always seen the value of working together in our restaurants, in our supply chain and in the communities we serve. To me, it’s clear that advancing sustainability initiatives depends on the meaningful partnerships we form.

Brandon Tidwell is Manager of Sustainability for Darden Restaurants. In this role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of corporate sustainability strategies and policies across all of Darden.  Brandon joined Darden from FedEx and is a candidate for a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He also holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Baylor and a certificate in Philanthropy from New York University.

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