Partnering: The New Path Forward

Nov 1, 2012 2:40 PM ET

Originally published on November 1, 2012
Author: Brandon Tidwell

Over the last few months, I've had the unique opportunity to travel across the country to learn about new ways Darden is making advancements in sustainable operations. I've learned about sustainable beef operations in Nebraska, our water management practices in South Florida, and our advancement of scientific criteria to drive supply chain buying practices. In each and every situation, partnerships were the driving force toward Darden making a difference.

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.

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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Katie Rogers