Capital Pacific Bank’s CEO, Mark Stevenson, first heard about the Northwest Earth Institute’s work in 2009 from a contact at another business. Careful to say that participation in the course was not “mandated,” leaders asked every employee to participate in NWEI’s Sustainable Systems at Work course later that year. While there was some grumbling at first, it quickly died off once employees were engaged in the process. That first course in 2009 lead to the redesign of the bank’s mission statement to directly include the commitment to sustainability — a process in which the entire staff participated.
Accountability and engagement in sustainability shifted from “something the Green Team does” to “what the bank is about,” according to Kristen Connor, Senior Vice President & Client Service Officer at the bank.
Kristen explains that each time they reached a plateau in their sustainability efforts they would take another Northwest Earth Institute course. The second time the bank offered a course they chose A World of Health. Learning from their first experience, they provided more flexibility in the scheduling and allowed for more diversity in the groups yielding a wider variety of perspectives. Following the World of Health course, the bank’s first Wellness Committee was formed.
In 2014, partnering with other locally based B Corp companies, Capital Pacific engaged in another NWEI course: Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice and Sustainability.
One of the more interesting, and perhaps unexpected, outcomes of Capital Pacific’s partnership with NWEI is the impact it has had on recruiting and retaining talented employees. Kristen credits NWEI with nurturing a culture shift at Capital Pacific that has led to a competitive advantage. Her face lights up as she explains, “People want to connect with and be part of something that they care deeply about: earth, community engagement, equity, wellness. All of our employees are passionate about at least one of those things. NWEI has helped us broaden our lens regarding both what sustainability is and why it matters.”
Pacific Continental Bank acquired Capital Pacific Bank in March 2015. Pacific Continental Bank is enthusiastic about continuing and broadening the sustainability efforts that Capital Pacific Bank was striving toward.