How businesses can be a force for good

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger announces PLANET 2050, the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, at a forum last month. The strategy is consistent with the company's efforts to do good in the communities where it does business.
Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger announces PLANET 2050, the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, at a forum last month. The strategy is consistent with the company's efforts to do good in the communities where it does business.

Raised by a single mother caring for two boys, Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger says he probably would not be leading a Fortune 500 company today without the government help his family received to lift them out of poverty.

“I’m a beneficiary,” he told an audience earlier this month, recalling his mother's struggle after her divorce, as she cared for her family, worked and went back to school.  “I stand here before you because of a social safety net.”

Linebarger said the free enterprise system in the United States has produced the “most vibrant and successful economic system in the history of the world.” But it cannot provide everything needed for a successful society, like the programs that helped his family. Speaking at Engage Indiana, a forum on "Business as a Force for Good," the Cummins CEO urged business leaders to help fill the gap.

It’s an approach consistent with the Stakeholder Model, long embraced at Cummins, which calls for businesses to consider the needs of all of their stakeholders – employees, suppliers, communities, shareholders and more. It means engaging to help address their challenges, and supporting institutions that protect the air, water and land and that educate and safeguard the public.

“If you can serve all of these stakeholders well, over the long run you will serve each best,” Linebarger said. “And it’s the ‘long run’ that is the key.” 

HOW BUSINESS BENEFITS

The Cummins CEO said at the Dec. 6 forum he believes in the free enterprise system to his core, and job creation is the most important thing a business can do to strengthen the social fabric. Linebarger, however, thinks businesses can and should do more, and he’s concerned about what he sees in society today.

 “What is clear in our country is that people have been left behind,” he said. “And enough people that we just can’t carry on and say, ‘it’s all fine.’ It’s not right.”

Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger visits a Cummins Power Women program in India
Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger (left) visits a Cummins Powers Women program in India. The program works to advance equity for women and girls around the world.

Linebarger said the country needs strong institutions to address these and other concerns, which is ultimately in the best interest of  businesses and shareholders, too.

He maintains a key point was missed by many observers earlier this year when the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers in the U.S., issued a revised Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. Previous versions endorsed shareholder primacy. Many commentators believed the new version committed corporations to consider all stakeholders instead.

“We never thought we were giving up on shareholders to help other stakeholders,” said Linebarger, who leads the Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee.  “We are not apologizing for serving shareholders, nor are we saying we think it’s a trade-off. In fact, our basic view is that we serve each of these stakeholders best by serving all. That’s the fundamental truth in the statement.”

It’s a key tenet of the Stakeholder Model, which has been embraced at Cummins for nearly 50 years, going back to the leadership of J. Irwin Miller. Miller openly challenged those at the time who maintained a business should only focus on its bottom line.

Cummins celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, which Linebarger says is evidence that the model works.

“When you are planning for long term sustainability, to be a prosperous part of your community for 100 years, at one time in your history one of those stakeholders is going to be the key to your survival,” he said at the forum sponsored by the Indianapolis Business Journal and the state of Indiana..

“In our case, each of those stakeholders has been the key to our survival many, many times,” Linebarger told the business leaders at the forum. “But I promise you that one of them will be the difference between you making it and not making it.”

THEORY INTO ACTION

Cummins has put the Stakeholder Model to work throughout its history. Here are just a few recent initiatives:

  • Cummins Powers Women, the company’s $11 million program started in 2018 to advance equity for women and girls around the world.
  • PLANET 2050, Cummins’ recently announced environmental sustainability strategy to address environmental challenges like climate change.
  • Cummins TEC: Technical Education for Communities, the company’s initiative to train disadvantaged youth in employable technical skills and connect them to good jobs in their communities.

Not all actions, however, are easy or fun. Cummins recently announced it would be reducing its workforce by 2,000 positions – about 3% of its workforce – to address challenging economic times. 

Linebarger said workforce reductions are “the toughest decision I have to make.” They run counter to the most basic way business can be a force for good: create jobs.  

“But I want to be clear with you that I do that, I make those tough decisions, because I believe I have an obligation to my stakeholders to provide a  sustainable, growing institution for another 100 years.”

Linebarger is hopeful that eventually, once the company is on firm financial footing, Cummins will be able to create more jobs, create power technologies that won’t impact the world’s carbon footprint, and help more people.

“We have some important problems to solve,” he said. 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

Cummins named a best place to work for LGBTQ employees

Cummins employees show their support for the LGBTQ community at the 2019 Pride parade in Indianapolis.
Cummins employees show their support for the LGBTQ community at the 2019 Pride parade in Indianapolis.

Cummins received two recent honors for its support of LGBTQ employees and for diversity in general.

The company received a perfect score of 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), designating the company a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” Additionally, Cummins has been named to Forbes magazine’s Best Employers for Diversity list. 

HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN

Cummins has received a perfect score of 100% on the Corporate Equality Index every year since 2005. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest U.S. civil rights organization for LGBTQ employees. Cummins joins the ranks of more than 680 major U.S. businesses also receiving top marks this year.

Cummins’ perfect score qualified the company for the campaign's new designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”

“We are proud to be included on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and designated a ‘Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality,’” said Kelley Creveling, Executive Director - Global Diversity & Right Environment at Cummins. “We work each day to create a diverse and inclusive work environment for all of our employees.”

The campaign says the results of this year’s CEI showcase how U.S.-based companies are not only promoting LGBTQ-friendly workplace policies in the United States but also helping advance the cause of LGBTQ inclusion in workplaces abroad.

“The impact of the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index over its 18-year history is profound,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “In this time, the corporate community has worked with us to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive policies, practices and benefits, establishing the Corporate Equality Index as a primary driving force for LGBTQ workplace inclusion in America and across the globe. These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do -- it is also the best business decision." 

FORBES 

Cummins has also once again been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity for 2020. 

The magazine's Best Employers for Diversity are chosen based on an independent survey from a representative sample of 60,000 employees working for companies employing at least 1,000 people in their U.S. operations. Respondents are asked questions regarding the topics of age, gender equality, ethnicity, disability, LGBTQA+ and general diversity concerning their own employer .
 

Lauren O'Dell Sidler - Cummins Inc.

Lauren O'Dell Sidler

As a senior communications specialist with Cummins Inc., Lauren O’Dell Sidler works with Cummins leaders to develop and implement communications strategies that reach Cummins’ global audience. 

Cummins sees bright future in company’s use of onsite solar

Crews started installing a new solar array atop the Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company in China last month.
Crews started installing a new solar array atop the Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company in China last month.

Cummins is making a significant investment in solar energy, projecting it will have 35 onsite solar projects completed by the end of 2020.

And that’s just the beginning. The projects completed by the end of 2020 are expected to collectively meet about 3.5% of the company's power needs. Cummins believes it could eventually meet about 10% of its electricity needs through onsite solar.

: The Cummins plant in Juarez, Mexico, added a solar array over part of its parking lot in 2018.
The Cummins plant in Juarez, Mexico, added a solar array over part of its parking lot in 2018. 

“We believe onsite solar photovoltaic is important, but by itself won’t achieve our carbon reduction goals,” said Mark Dhennin, Director of Energy & Environment at Cummins. “That’s why we need off-site projects, too, like our support for the Meadow Lake Wind Farm in northwest Indiana.”

Cummins’ share of the wind farm expansion, through a virtual power purchase agreement, has a peak generation capacity of about 75 megawatts (MW), which will produce the equivalent of about 28% of the company’s global electricity needs. The electricity doesn’t go directly to a Cummins’ facility, but rather provides an off-set of renewable power that goes to the grid.

The solar and wind initiatives are part of Cummins’ goal to increase its use and promotion of renewable energy. The company wants to do its part to address the  world’s environmental challenges such as climate change.

THE SPREAD OF SOLAR

Cummins currently has completed solar arrays at 12 locations around the world from Australia to North America. Work is taking place on new solar installations at 16 additional Cummins sites, including 12 in India. Arrays are planned at another nine Cummins facilities, including sites in Nigeria, Romania and Australia.

The largest solar array within the company is on top of the Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company (BFCEC) in Beijing, China, one of the company’s busiest plants. Plant Manager Miguel Kindler says the array on top of the larger of the two buildings at BFCEC was constructed in 2016 and covers about 650,000 square feet or roughly two-thirds of the roof. It generates about 15% of the building’s electricity needs.

The Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company in Beijing, China is adding an array to its second building (far right).
The Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company in China is adding an array to its second building (far right).

Crews recently started work on a second array atop the other building at the plant. While smaller, the new array will generate about the same amount of energy as the larger installation thanks to the latest technology and is conservatively projected to supply 15% to 20% of the second building’s electricity needs.

“When you are talking about 15% to 20% of a building’s energy consumption, that’s a pretty nice bump,” Kindler said.

Not every Cummins site, however, is a good candidate for solar. The company bases its decisions on installing solar on a range of factors, including economic circumstances in addition to environmental conditions, such as how much sun a site receives. That’s another reason Dhennin and his team are exploring off-site options. 

GOAL DRIVEN

The spread of solar comes as Cummins wraps up work on its 2020 environmental sustainability goals and turns its attention to the company’s 2030 goals and 2050 aspirations included in the recently announced PLANET 2050 strategy. The 2020 goals call for the company to “increase the portion of electricity Cummins uses derived from renewable sources.”

The 2030 goals included in the PLANET 2050 strategy call for reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions from facilities and operations by 50%. Increasing the use of renewable power would significantly help toward that target.

PLANET 2050 logo
Cummins' PLANET 2050 strategy is designed to guide the company's efforts addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.

The company’s 2050 aspirations include having a net positive environmental impact everywhere the community operates and a near zero local environmental impact, which would also both benefit from using and promoting renewable energy.

“It’s clear that renewable energy will play an important role if Cummins is to reach its goals and aspirations,” Dhennin said. “I think we’re off to a good start, but there’s significantly more to be done."

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

Cummins leader promotes the power of choice to address climate change

Dr. Wayne Eckerle, seated middle, testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Wayne Eckerle, seated middle, testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in Washington, D.C.

The Cummins leader for research and technology urged U.S. lawmakers today (Oct. 23, 2019) to preserve the power of choice in heavy duty powertrains so customers can select the best technology for them to address challenges like climate change.

Dr. Wayne Eckerle told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in Washington, D.C., that there is no one size fits all solution for heavy duty transportation. Policies establishing national standards while maintaining technical flexibility are the best way to promote the innovation needed to ultimately reach net-zero emissions.

“Cummins is committed to investing in an energy diverse future where our customers have a broad portfolio of power options – a future that includes clean diesel, natural gas, electrified power, fuel cell technology and alternative fuels – so they can choose what works best for them,” Eckerle told the subcommittee in prepared testimony.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY

All of those technologies can play important roles in reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs), the principal cause of climate change. For example, the nearly 5 million diesel trucks using advanced diesel fuel, the latest engine technology and modern emissions control, have avoided the production of more than 26 million metric tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over the past decade.

NOx is a key contributor to smog and CO2 is pivotal to GHGs. Cummins believes internal combustion engines will be around for some time, especially for long haul trucking, as the infrastructure develops for carbon neutral technology such as electrified power and fuel cells. The company is working to make the engines cleaner, and more efficient.

Watch the testimony

“We remain committed to making our internal combustion engines as fuel efficient as possible,” said Eckerle, Vice President of Global Research and Technology at Cummins.

Eckerle said natural gas can also be a clean source of energy for customers using the latest technology, especially for those with access to renewable natural gas from sources such as landfills.

“Biogas can provide a clean, easily controlled source of renewable energy from organic waste materials, replacing fossil fuels with a sustainable carbon neutral fuel option,” he told the committee.

EMBRACING NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Cummins has long been a leader in engines fueled by diesel and natural gas. It is quickly becoming the leader in electrified power and fuel cell technology, building on its own expertise through several recent acquisitions.

The company, for example, has greatly expanded its technical capability with battery-electric technology, offering electrified powertrains for school and transit bus applications as well as work trucks in 2019.

In addition, Cummins is the largest provider of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel-cell powered locomotives in the world. PEM fuel cells generate electricity through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen.

“The heavy-duty vehicle industry is undergoing significant change and Cummins is leading the way,” Eckerle said.

But he cautioned that the company’s work with new technologies will only be effective if the market adopts the technology.

“Cost and infrastructure readiness are the main barriers to adoption of low emission technologies for commercial vehicles,” he told the subcommittee.

HOW GOVERNMENT CAN HELP

Eckerle said one thing the federal government can do toward the goal of carbon neutral heavy-duty transportation is encourage the development of infrastructure and affordable technology through public-private partnerships like the 21st Century Truck Partnership and cost-shared research and development projects like SuperTruck. 

Launched in 2010, SuperTruck has brought together major players in heavy duty transportation to work on experimental technologies making trucks more efficient, sharing costs with the U.S. Department of Energy. Many of the innovations are now included in engines on the market today.

Eckerle said the government can also establish nationwide emissions targets for product specific applications, noting that federal GHG standards for commercial vehicles will lower CO2 emissions by about 1.1 billion metric tons if fully implemented, saving vehicle owners $170 billion in fuel costs and reducing oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

“Policies should be free of technology-forcing mandates, ensuring manufacturers’ ability to provide options that allow communities to make the best choices that will meet their performance and environmental needs,” Eckerle said. “Successful policies should not be prescriptive but should instead focus on desired outcomes, allowing flexibility and innovation to meet goals.”
 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

Cummins honored by governor of Indiana for wind farm project

The Meadow Lake Wind Farm is in an ideal location in a nearly fully developed agricultural area.
The Meadow Lake Wind Farm is in an ideal location in a nearly fully developed agricultural area.

Cummins received a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence this week for the company’s work helping the Meadow Lake Wind Farm expand so it can generate more renewable power. 

The award was presented Wednesday (Sept. 18) by Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Bruno Pigott on behalf of Gov. Eric Holcomb. Brian Mormino, Executive Director – World Wide Environmental Strategy & Compliance at Cummins, accepted the award on behalf of the company and its partners at Meadow Lake VI in northwest Indiana.

Brian Mormino receives Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence on behalf of Cummins
Brian Mormino (center), Executive Director – World Wide Environmental Strategy & Compliance, joins Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Bruno Pigott (second from left) and other state officials to accept the award on behalf of Cummins.

“The expansion of the wind farm produces the equivalent amount of energy that Cummins uses at its Indiana facilities and reduces air emissions and water consumption at the local power plant,” Pigott said in announcing the award at the 22nd annual Indiana Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show in Indianapolis, Indiana (U.S.).

The project was the winner in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources category. Five other initiatives also won excellence awards, which recognize organizations that “voluntarily went above and beyond their regulatory requirements.”

Pigott called the winners Indiana’s leaders in implementing the most “innovative, sustainable and exemplary” environmental projects in 2018-2019.

In a brief presentation on the project, Karen Cecil, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Cummins, called the wind farm expansion “probably one of the projects I’m most proud to be a part of.”

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Cummins has entered into a 15-year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, more commonly known in the industry as a VPPA. It guarantees the wind farm a fixed price for the power Meadow Lake VI generates, providing some certainty for the expansion, which helped it move forward. The VPPA provides Cummins with a hedge against rising energy prices.

Meadow Lake VI has a capacity of about 200 megawatts annually, which is generated from 61 wind turbines. All six phases of the wind farm collectively have an installed capacity of 801.25 megawatts, enough to power approximately 220,000 average Indiana homes with clean energy each year.

The share of the expansion Cummins is supporting is 75 megawatts of capacity. While none of the power will go directly to a Cummins’ facility, its share of the expansion is projected to generate slightly more electricity annually than the company uses at its Indiana facilities. 

Essentially the greenhouse gases from the electricity consumption at Cummins' facilities in Indiana are offset by the renewable power sent to the grid.  About a quarter of the company’s total energy use is in Indiana.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE

Cummins partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy, which reviewed the expansion plans. While no energy technology has zero impact, the expansion site was nearly ideal for wind energy, with a flat topography. Almost all of the site is fully developed agricultural land, with minimal sensitive habitats. 

A drone view of the expansion at Meadow Lake VI
You can find a video about the expansion, and Cummins' role in it, here.

The Meadow Lake Wind Farm is owned by EDP Renewables, which values environmental stewardship, an important factor for Cummins. The company was represented at the awards ceremony by Kelly Snyder, Senior Origination Manager – East Region. Paul Jackson, Director of Benton County Economic Development also attended, along with Steven Cox, Benton County Commissioner President. The county is home to the wind farm expansion and many of its farmers have benefited financially from having wind turbines on their property.
 
Expanding renewable forms of energy is included in Cummins’ 2020 environmental goals. The company wants to do its part to address climate change.

Other winners of environmental excellence awards included: Grace College for its work with the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams in northeast Indiana, the city of Bloomington for its work on energy conservation, Jennings County for its work to promote and improve pollinator habitats, Helmer Scientific for its work to phase out hydrocarbons and the city of Greendale for its work to implement curbside recycling. 

The Cummins team and representatives from EDP Renewables and Benton County
Representatives from Cummins gathered with important guests after the ceremony. From left to right, Brian Mormino, Executive Director – World Wide Environmental Strategy & Compliance at Cummins; Laurie Counsel, Global Environmental Relations Director at Cummins; Cummins’ Alan Resnik, Director – Facilities and Operations Environmental Management; Karen Cecil, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Cummins; Kelly Snyder, Senior Origination Manager – East Region, EDP Renewables North America, and Paul Jackson, Director, Benton County Economic Development.


 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

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