Categories: Collaboration Video Conferencing

Enhancing Sustainability and Social Responsibility Through Collaboration with Cisco Webex

The Customer Story blog series highlights how Cisco’s collaboration technology has helped customers solve their business challenges. Learn how Cisco is meeting customers where they are helping them achieve their business goals.

Guest Contributor: Amy Hall, VP Sustainability, Eileen Fisher, Inc.

Amy serves as Vice President, Social Consciousness for women’s clothing designer EILEEN FISHER.  In this capacity, she guides the company toward greater alignment with its Benefit / B Corporation status and Quadruple Bottom Line framework.   Amy collaborates internally and externally to position the company at the leading edge of human, environmental and economic sustainability.  A frequent public speaker, Amy chairs the advisory board of Social Accountability International and represents the company on the Development Council of Future Fit.  An avid cyclist with a self-built bamboo bike, Amy can frequently be found cycling around New York’s Hudson Valley.

Maximizing positive environmental and social impact with Cisco Collaboration Tools

As you are doing your holiday shopping (or shopping for yourself!), why not look at stylish clothing made by a company that is committed to maximizing positive environmental and social impact? Eileen Fisher, Inc. is known as a leader in sustainability and social consciousness, and has created the Vision2020 program to provide a framework to meet its goals in several areas.

And over the past seven years, we have used Webex to enable employees in various locations to collaborate on this initiative, establishing goals and working together to achieve them.

Eileen Fisher’s Vision 2020 program outlines 20 goals within eight priority areas. Social priorities include Conscious Business Practices, Fair Wages and Benefits, Workers’ Voice and Worker and Community Happiness. The social goals aim to enhance the general well-being of the people who make the clothes. For example, to this end, we strive to partner with suppliers who foster a positive atmosphere throughout the supply chain.

Environmental priority areas include Materials, Chemistry, Carbon, and Water. The ultimate goal is for all of our products to be created with eco-preferred materials. In addition, we aspire to use materials efficiently and to reuse materials if possible. We also design clothes to last, rather than clothes that lose their shape or style after a few times wearing them. However, when customers no longer have a need for the clothing, we’ll take them back! (This is known as EILEEN FISHER Renew.) In fact, we’ve collected more than one million garments to date. We resell some of them, and if an item can’t be resold, we consider it as raw material to be worked into a new textile or restyled as a new garment.

Accelerate team collaboration with Cisco Webex Teams

We get things done at Eileen Fisher by connecting with teams and individuals internally as well as externally. While the company’s headquarters are in New York, Shona Quinn, Sustainability Leader, collaborated on the Vision2020 program for several years from Los Angeles. With Webex video conferencing, it was like she had never moved away from the headquarters.

Shona has been at the forefront of our environmental sustainability journey since joining the company in 2007. The key to her success is in influencing colleagues, business partners and suppliers to shift their behavior and align around common sustainability values.  A key driving force behind Vision2020, Shona worked her magic as a member of the Sustainability Design Team (a cross-functional team of leaders), which met once a month for a full day each time. Shona joined every single one of those meetings via Webex. Fun fact: We used a repurposed dryer ball, enhanced with felt continents so that it represented the earth, as a talking stick. When it came time for Shona to speak, we would “throw” our ball toward the Webex screen, and she would magically catch it in L.A. (Thank goodness for the look-alike ball that she kept near her computer.) Shona also relied on Webex to keep up with the various teams connected to our Vision2020 environmental goals.

Webex enables a much more connected conversation than a phone call: A repurposed dryer ball representing the earth enhanced with felt continents serves as a virtual talking stick to align around common sustainability values.

Collaboration is the key to culture

And that’s just one example of how Webex has enabled collaboration at Eileen Fisher. Collaboration is a fundamental characteristic of our workplace and a key component of our culture. The more locations we add, the more difficult it is to stay connected. Webex Teams provides us exactly what we need to be collaborative, whether it’s connecting with stores, a meeting of just two individuals, or a training session with a large group. With video, we can see body language which is a huge part of communication. Webex enables a much more connected conversation than a phone call.

Our headquarters office is in Irvington, NY (45 minutes north of New York City) and we have a Creative Center in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Many of us travel back and forth between the offices. But if we can’t make the trip, we use Webex Teams to stay connected. In fact, every corporate employee has Webex Teams on their computer and every store is connected with Teams. I also use Webex to meet with external parties.  And it really helps with work life balance as well.

We have about 35 Webex in-room systems installed at our headquarters; Webex Boards are in huge use at our headquarters and in the satellite showrooms in the UK and Canada. We also use Teams for document sharing.

Click to learn more about Eileen Fisher Vision2020

A unique way we use Webex Teams and Boards is for fittings. Fittings typically take place with a model in our urban location while the design team is based in New York City. Historically, the design team would travel by train or car to the urban location for the fitting. Now, fittings are done in front of a Webex Board room system at the HQ and the design team, sitting in the New York City office, can see exactly what is going on. This has saved a lot of travel time for a lot of individuals.

Each team at EILEEN FISHER uses Webex to suit their particular needs.  From Design to Sustainability, we depend on Webex to stay connected around our values and move our collective agenda forward. Thank you, Cisco!

To learn more about Cisco Webex, click here.



Read all the blogs in the Customer Story blog series
How Cisco’s Culture Inspired Me to Give Back
5 Steps to Creating a Powerful Culture of Video to Impact Your Business, Brand, and Bottom Line
The Power of Culture and Social Purpose in Making Transformations Successful
What communication rules should you include in your startup business plan?




Published by
Amanda Holst

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