How businesses can stand up against climate change

Profile picture for user David Dempsey By David Dempsey April 24, 2020
As another Earth Day passes, Salesforce's Dr David Dempsey highlights the need to maintain the battle against climate change.

climate change
(via Pixabay)

While the fight against the Coronavirus is currently a priority for every nation across the world, the issue of climate change remains. All evidence points to the reality that climate change is here, and we have an important role to play in preventing the worst case scenario.

It's a fact that 2019 was a year in which natural disasters occurred with unprecedented frequency. Meanwhile, a report published by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that we need to reduce CO2 emissions by 7.6% for the next decade to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

In recent years, climate change is an issue that has risen into the public consciousness - with events like Earth Day and Earth Month creating an annual moment where the world turns its attention onto the issue of climate change. We’ve also seen an increase in stakeholder activism in the last year. The protests by Extinction Rebellion and the instrumental work of Greta Thunberg is helping to drive seismic political changes in countries around the world who are making sustainability a priority. 

Our own Stakeholder Perceptions Report found that 70% of people in the UK believe the state of the environment needs to be addressed urgently, and a further 43% are putting their trust in businesses to create a better future for younger generations. 

At Salesforce we believe business has a responsibility to be a powerful platform for change, and there are a number of actions businesses can take to fulfil this and become more eco-conscious.   

Leading with values

Our values are intentional and in our DNA at Salesforce – from the way we work with customers to how we support wider society. As a business we consider the environment to be a key stakeholder and we want to play a meaningful role in creating a sustainable future for all by delivering a carbon-neutral cloud to all customers.

Not only is this important for the sustainability of our planet, but this cultural pivot is fundamental to attracting and retaining talent. Our research has shown that younger people especially feel compelled to work for organisations with a will to impact broader issues such as climate change. Three-quarters (75%) of consumers, for example, feel the state of the environment is on the wrong track.

To make meaningful impact, sustainability best practices must be baked into organisational culture. People of all levels throughout the business need to be given the space to find and articulate what a values and purpose driven working life means to them. 

Make a commitment and take action

Employees and wider society are looking to businesses to take action to tackle climate change and we believe business can be a platform for change. In the short term this means businesses must seek new tools and applications to monitor their environmental impact and identify the incremental changes which can make a big difference. Our own Sustainability Cloud, for example, allows businesses to quickly track, analyse and report reliable environmental data to help reduce emissions.

But we’re not just doing things on our own. Salesforce is part of the global community, and together with the United Nations (UN), partners and customers, building a better world. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent the world’s to-do list for people and the planet by 2030. Together, these 17 goals are an urgent call for action to combat poverty, mitigate climate change, and secure a more equal and peaceful future. This includes adding value to non-profit organizations through employee volunteering schemes and investing in low-carbon production methods and supply chains.

One way organizations can initiate this process is through the simple model we at Salesforce call Pledge 1%. The 1-1-1 philanthropic model commits 1% of product, time and resources to support non-profits and education institutions. An example of this is the development of Oceanforce, an app developed by students at London’s St Marylebone’s School in partnership with Salesforce, which uses gamification to encourage recycling of single-use plastics.

When it comes to our own efforts, we’re working toward 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations by 2022. We’re continuing to deliver our customers a carbon neutral cloud and operate as a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions company and finally, when we open Salesforce Tower Dublin next year we’ll be one of Ireland’s most sustainable office buildings. 

Fighting climate change means making a cultural shift

Embracing sustainability shouldn’t be a choice for business, but a responsibility they act on. Even thinking purely from a business perspective, being more sustainable is imperative to ensuring the interests of their stakeholders are being served, improving operational efficiencies, developing strategic decision making by thinking ahead and attracting new talent. 

With a growing proportion of society demanding that businesses play an active vital role in creating a more equal and sustainable future, this requires a cultural shift in the minds of all in business leadership positions. If leaders can make this happen, it won’t just impact one business, but it will create a ripple effect, activating thousands from a company's own employees, their customers, and beyond.

The call for companies is clear: be bold and ambitious, while demonstrating integrity in your sustainability goals. Elevate climate change in your approach to corporate sustainability because your stakeholders and the planet demand it.