Wondering how to make your company more sustainable? 4 things one local biz is doing


Protective Life sustainability
Rich Bielen, CEO, Protective Life Corporation at a Protecting Good Media Day in North Birmingham (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

For over 115 years, Protective has been helping people achieve the protection and security that is right for them, and a commitment to sustainability is a huge part of how they do business. To learn more, we’ve pulled out stories from their recently-released 2022 Sustainability Report that can help anyone trying to run a sustainable business or adopt sustainable practices. Keep reading to see what we discovered.

Supporting business, people + communities

Protective at RMHCA
Leanne Woosley, Marquitta King, Michael Hoye, Kristy Goodwin + Liz Castillo at Rondald McDonald House in Birmingham. (Protective)

“At Protective…we strive to continuously strengthen our business and find new and better ways to serve. By upholding sustainable business practices, we commit to standing by our customers on the journey ahead.”

Rich Bielen, President & CEO, Protective

1. Business sustainability: reducing environmental impact

EV charging station, Protective sustainability
Sam Basu at an on-site electric vehicle (EV) charging station. (Protective)

Pursuing efficiency and finding energy savings are passions for many businesses. Here are some examples of how this plays out at Protective:

  • Reduced power usage at their Birmingham HQ by 15% since 2019 through a number of measures, including:
    • Installing LED lighting
    • Improving campus’ chiller utilization
    • Adjusting building control setpoints
    • Transitioning to a more distributed workforce
  • Installed electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in each parking deck at HQ.
  • Maintained recognition as an EPA Green Power Partner, a program focused on promoting renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact of electricity through efforts such as:

Want to work for a company that invests in sustainability? Protective is hiring.

2. People sustainability: developing an ambassador program

Protective sustainability
Virtual ambassadors (Protective)

The pandemic shifted the way many people work. Currently, over 60% of Protective’s teammates work virtually across the country (up from 19% in the before times). Like many organizations, they wanted to find innovative ways to build culture, community and connection, given this new reality.

In 2021, they launched an Ambassador Program which now includes 11 Ambassadors in various regions across the US. In addition to their regular roles, they serve as local liaisons to connect the company with and understand the experience of their distributed workforce. They facilitate engagement by bringing teammates together for social events and community initiatives.

Supported by the Protective Life Foundation, Ambassadors executed eight service projects in their communities with over 700 total participants last year.

In 2022, Ambassadors also gathered in Birmingham for a two-day summit to plan and share best practices and success stories.

3. Community sustainability: launching a week of service for Ronald McDonald House Charities

Protective sustainability
Protective participating in a cleanup day with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (Protective)

For almost two decades, Protective has been a donor and friend to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama. A few years ago, they broadened this relationship to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in Cincinnati and St. Louis.

In 2022, they launched a coordinated week-long effort for teammates to support local houses in each of the company’s three core sites.

Here are some of the ways teammates made an impact in their local communities:

  • Decorating banners
  • Making repairs
  • Preparing meals
  • Playing games with families
  • Hosting a national supply drive that all teammates, virtual + office-based, were invited to participate in
  • Cleaning up
  • Painting fences
  • Sitting around the dinner table with families

For families with a sick or injured child in the hospital, each of these interactions and actions provided a sense of security, giving them hope and connection during difficult times.

In addition, several teammates serve on the board or committees of RMHC and participate in additional service events throughout the year.

4. DE+I sustainability: advancing in supplier diversity

Protective, sustainability
Protective’s Bill Relfe (left) and Theresa Jones (center) with members of the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Business Development Team. (Protective)

Protective lives out their commitment to fostering Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in business in a number of ways, including their Supplier Diversity Program.

Through this program, they actively pursue opportunities to conduct business with qualified suppliers that are owned by members of historically underrepresented or underserved groups.

Here in their HQ city of Birmingham, teammates serve on several local groups that promote supplier diversity:

  • Birmingham Business Alliance’s Inclusive Procurement Council
  • Southern Regional Minority Supplier Development
  • Financial Services Roundtable for Supplier Diversity

Check out Protective’s 2022 Sustainability Report today.

Want to work for a company that puts its values into practice? Protective is hiring.

Sponsored by:

Protective refers to Protective Life Corporation and insurance company subsidiaries, including Protective Life Insurance Company, Nashville, TN, and Protective Life and Annuity Insurance Company, Birmingham, AL.

Protective® is a registered trademark of Protective Life Insurance Company. The Protective trademarks, logos and service marks are property of Protective Life Insurance Company and are protected by copyright, trademark, and/or other proprietary rights and laws.

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

Articles: 746