Business is the greatest platform for change, and Salesforce’s commitment to having a positive impact was one of the major things that attracted me to join the company three years ago.
Marc Benioff’s vision is for Salesforce to be more than just a technology company ; he wants to leave the world a better place and create a future that everybody can enjoy. This sense of genuine purpose and the way Salesforce lives and breathes that philosophy is one of this company’s greatest strengths.
Although at its core Salesforce is a cloud based software company, we are set up in a way that we can contribute to our communities at the same time. Every single employee has the power to do that through the 1-1-1 model – and we encourage other businesses to come on board and do the same. We all contribute 1% of our time at work to organisations and causes we're passionate about. That adds up to around 67,000 hours volunteered each year in Australia and New Zealand alone.
For me, that cause is sustainability and environmental responsibility. My passion for the environment is long held – from a young age I was brought up to value the outdoors and the Australian bush. I always loved bushwalking and being outdoors, doing fun environmentally friendly activities like making my own paper, helping dad with his worm farm and being involved with Clean Up Australia. My respect for nature and for the importance of maintaining biodiversity is core to who I am.
So as soon as I walked through the door here, I wanted to be part of Earthforce, Salesforce’s group of volunteer employee champions dedicated to promoting and celebrating environmental responsibility. I am excited to lead Earthforce and continue to build it as we become more educated about environmental crises, our role in creating them and the responsibility we have to help fix them.
An important role of businesses is to make the world a better place - to give, not just to take. Ultimately, businesses can significantly impact the climate, with only 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, so the obligation lies with businesses to make crucial changes that provide positive impact for our planet.
The Salesforce global ecosystem is enormous, and because of this we have a big voice. It’s imperative then that we walk our talk. And we do. We became a carbon neutral cloud a couple of years ago, achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The recently completed Salesforce Tower in San Francisco uses the most innovative sustainable technology in cooling and waste management; adjacent to Salesforce Park which includes a lawn with mature trees and 13 beautiful meandering gardens.
And we’ve just marked Earth Month with a month packed full of activities to promote awareness of sustainability and ways to minimise our environmental impact.
Here in Australia we held a plastic-free morning tea in Melbourne with guest speaker Jamie Forsyth, who founded Keepcup, and a Sydney panel discussion with local sustainability businesses on “rethinking waste” and sustainable living.
We also held film screenings of Sharkwater, a documentary exposing the billion dollar illegal shark fin industry that’s responsible for wiping out 90% of the global shark population, and Drowning in Plastic, a BBC documentary which exposes the horrendous impact of plastic in our oceans and what it means for the future of life on our planet.
It wouldn’t be Earth Month without some volunteering! Our Sydney champions got their hands dirty at Centennial Park with a day of catch and release carp tagging as well as bush regeneration, whereas our Melbourne group cleaned up the Elwood waterways and also lent a helping hand at a local wildlife shelter that has more than 80 native animals in care currently.
One of the biggest challenges is changing people’s behaviour. Earthforce focuses on practical insights and raising awareness about the small things that individuals can do to make a difference and how this adds up to a large impact.
For example, research has shown that one of the most impactful actions we could all take is to reduce our meat consumption, so we launched an initiative around Meatless Monday, to demonstrate how easy it is and the positive impact to the environment, as well as your health!
We have also instigated initiatives to reduce single use plastic consumption and reduce waste by using reusable bowls, cups and cutlery. We inspire people to think about how they could commute to work and encourage them to consider reducing some of the carbon footprint associated with air travel.
On the local front, we provide information to help people choose renewable energy providers, reduce power consumption, and choosing companies that operate in a sustainable manner.
This year, we’ve asked staff to pledge a commitment on their V2MOM that is one thing they’re going to do differently to have a positive environmental impact this year. It might be committing to using recycled toilet paper or taking part in Meatless Monday. This way, everyone is engaged and invested in taking action for the environment.
With a 20-year window to make a positive impact and change the environment for the better, it’s essential for all of us to understand how we can contribute and make small changes that can add up to a meaningful impact.
And it’s vital for businesses to lead the way.
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