Why Every Organization Should Make Sustainability Part of its Mission
Over the past decade, organizations like Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and 350.org have made incredible progress on critical sustainability initiatives. However, with global sea levels still rising rapidly, biodiversity declining at an alarming rate, and the world’s most vulnerable populations bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, it is clear that the efforts of dedicated environmental nonprofits alone are not enough.
Nonprofits, education institutions, and corporations alike are recognizing their roles in creating a more sustainable future. By deepening their commitments to sustainability, organizations across sectors have the opportunity to enact more sustainable business practices and set an example for peer organizations.
At Salesforce, our business is guided by stakeholder capitalism, a system in which corporate purpose is based on a fundamental commitment to all stakeholders — customers, employees, partners, communities, the planet, and society — rather than just shareholders. In order to better serve our planet as a key stakeholder, we’ve expanded our commitment to sustainability. Most recently, we took a critical step in our climate action plan by including climate as a part of the company public policy platform, joining priorities like equal rights and privacy and security.
“We are committed to actively advocating for clear and consistent science-based climate policies that facilitate a just and equitable global transition to a 1.5°C future,” said Suzanne DiBianca, Chief Impact Officer and EVP of Corporate Relations at Salesforce. “It’s not enough for Salesforce, or any company, to only think about its own footprint. Together, we must accelerate change to deliver progress at the scale the world needs.”
As Salesforce has deepened our commitment to the environment, we’ve also been inspired by our customers who have made sustainability fundamental to their missions with innovative approaches. From nonprofits like 350.org to educational institutions like University of Massachusetts Amherst, new climate tech startups like BlocPower, and established global brands like Bentley Motors, learn how organizations across these sectors have taken meaningful climate action.
350.org is an international movement of people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all. Over the last 12 years, the nonprofit has grown from a handful of climate activists to a global team of 160 climate leaders in 27 countries.
With a digital-first approach, 350.org’s product team is constantly analyzing data, improving websites, and providing the right system and tools to their users. With the Salesforce.org Nonprofit Success Pack, they plan to track and manage relationships and interactions with constituents across all regions, allowing them to develop local leadership, build a diverse network of local groups that campaign with impact, and connect partners across the climate movement and social justice movement. This focus on partnerships across social justice and climate justice movements resulted in 350.org’s Climate Justice Action map, which connects people with local groups and other activists.
350.org’s local chapters are utilizing uniquely-built Salesforce instances to suit the needs of each team. For example, AfrikaVuka, the digital organizing platform for 350 Africa, is a climate organizing platform now engaging about 100 groups across the continent. The platform provides training and open-source tools and resources for climate activists, links activists to local groups and campaigns, provides a platform for rapidly evolving content, and also supports a Coal Tracker as the group seeks to end the reign of dirty coal in Africa.
The 350 Africa team uses Salesforce to track many things, like the application process of organizations that want to be part of the coalition, relationships, volunteers, training status, and community campaigns like Ghana-Reducing Our Carbon. They also use Salesforce to plan and chart a future path to growth.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
From creating more green campuses to encouraging research and dissemination of sustainability knowledge, education institutions around the world have an important role to play in creating a more sustainable future for all. University of Massachusetts Amherst is one institution that is known for being a leader when it comes to sustainability efforts.
UMass Amherst is the first public university to divest from direct fossil fuel holdings, as well as one of the nation’s largest food-service providers to commit to using over 30% local, sustainable food sources. It is home to the School of Earth and Sustainability, which gives students and faculty a hub to study and research topics related to the environmental sciences and sustainability.
UMass Amherst also boasts an efficient recycling program and one of New England’s largest solar panel projects.
BlocPower, a Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund portfolio company, is a Brooklyn-based climate tech startup that is rapidly greening and electrifying buildings in America’s urban core. BlocPower is able to bring efficient and clean energy to buildings that are often overlooked for investment. It completes this mission by leveraging Salesforce technology, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and structured finance to create green buildings in America’s urban core.
By installing modern, efficient heating and cooling equipment, BlocPower improves urban buildings’ indoor air quality and reduces or eliminates fossil fuel use, saving building owners 20% to 70% on energy costs.
“With a new asset class and a confluence of technologies enabling our software platform, we can now achieve the mission of retrofitting buildings in underserved communities,” said Donnel Baird, CEO. “BlocPower is creating green jobs by turning buildings into Teslas: making them smart and getting them off of fossil fuels.”
In addition to bringing clean energy to buildings, BlocPower also stepped in during the COVID-19 crisis to bring free Wi-Fi to the South Bronx and help mitigate the impacts of the digital divide that COVID-19 has so clearly brought to light.
As car companies around the world strive to create more sustainable transportation, Bentley Motors is among the leading brands paving the way.
The Bentley factory in England is certified carbon neutral to PAS 2060 standard, relying on solar panels and green energy sources to provide power. In addition, the company is exploring responsible materials like 5,000 year-old Copper infused Riverwood and paint made from recycled rice husks to achieve its vision of being fully sustainable. This includes transforming the company’s entire product to fully electric within a decade.
Bentley Motors is committing to more sustainable business practices like further reducing the environmental impact of its factory by 75% by 2025, ethical sourcing, a carbon neutral retailer network, and even a project to combat the declining bee population.
“Our vision is to go beyond zero, to become climate positive as a company,” said Peter Bosch, Board Member for Manufacturing at Bentley.
Bentley Motors’ new digital platform is a crucial component of its goal to become a leader of sustainable luxury mobility. With the ability to connect data for increased clarity across the business, Bentley Motors can accelerate business growth and personalized customer engagement to deliver a new generation of luxury services.
Resources for Your Organization to Champion Sustainability
No matter what sector you work in, there are opportunities to incorporate sustainability into your business practices. Below are resources for companies, nonprofits, and education institutions alike to deepen their commitment to the environment:
- Sustainability Cloud
- Salesforce’s Sustainability at Home Guide
- EAB: 4 filters to consider when prioritizing sustainability initiatives for higher education
- NonProfit PRO: More Nonprofits Are Becoming Eco-Friendly – Here’s How Yours Can, Too
- Just Recovery Gathering, April 9-11: Join 350.org for a three-day online event featuring interactive workshops, cultural sessions, and hands-on training, bringing together climate movement champions.
About the Author
Liz is passionate about using clear communication to influence positive social change. As a Senior Manager of Communications and Content at Salesforce.org, she’s focused on amplifying the voices of nonprofit, education, and corporate philanthropy customers and sharing the impact of Salesforce.org technology. Liz oversees the Salesforce.org editorial strategy and blog.
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