Environmental, Social & GovernanceCategory3 min read

How to build a sustainable future through teamwork

Ana Norte
Getty Images

For me, people are wired for connection, which builds our sense of purpose and belonging, and ultimately inspires us to work collectively to influence change.

Growing up in a small community, I learned that when individuals work collaboratively, combining efforts into a greater collective, we can achieve wider outcomes. Likewise, sustainability initiatives need the engagement of both individuals and community to reach their full potential. Working collaboratively with a sense of purpose, we become better prepared to manage and reduce our collective footprint, whilst creating an individual commitment to sustainable living.

Sustainability has long been top of mind for me and I have come to believe that we have the moral responsibility to live more sustainable lives. Leading the Australia & New Zealand Sustainability Ambassadors at VMware brings me hope that we can make a difference, and confirms that it is possible to dream, live and breathe ESG values as a team.

Using personal sustainability values to transform my role at VMware

Following the devastating wildfires that hit Australia during the summer of 2020, I reflected on how VMware and its employees could contribute to the regeneration of the Australian native bush. My first idea was to turn plastic into trees: instead of giving away merchandise at events, VMware could fund the planting of a tree in the name of each attendee.

This was the start of our support for the One Tree Planted initiative in A/NZ, which now accounts for over 100,000 trees pledged in Australia. Since then, it has become a global VMware program and gone beyond what I could’ve dreamed.

The purpose of Sustainability Ambassadors at VMware

One of the reasons I love working for VMware is because it echoes my personal mindset around community effort and impact. As sustainability ambassadors, we incorporate VMware’s culture of EPIC2 values into everything we do - using Execution, Passion, Integrity, Customers, and Community to become a force for good and promote change in our lives, our customers’ lives, and within our community. A good example of these values put into practice is VMware’s yearly ESG report, a transparent way to keep track of the company’s progress towards its 2030 Agenda.

Based on these values, we established our goals as a team: to inspire our colleagues to live more sustainable lifestyles, to identify voices in the business who can become new ambassadors, and to enable our sales team to have these conversations comfortably with customers and partners. There are many initiatives in progress to achieve these goals. A few examples are our peer to peer Q&A sessions, organising volunteer teams to clean communities across cities, and reducing single use plastic in the office and at events.

During the last 20 years our products have been helping customers achieve their own sustainability targets, including helping them avoid 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions. Some of the programs that contribute to this mission are the VMware Zero Carbon Committed™ program (featuring over 30 VMware Cloud Provider™ certified partners), and VMware Responsible Sourcing™ program, which rewards chain suppliers that are prioritising sustainability, diversity, and accessibility.

Envisioning a sustainable future

Teachers and schools are doing a lot of great work to educate and ingrain this conversation within the next generation, and I truly believe that it’ll give them the ability to drive this change. But I’d also like to see more corporations and individuals across the globe take more action now - starting with rethinking the impact of daily activities and choices.

A question that is top of mind for me is: “How can we, as a society and as individuals, take action and be more mindful about this every single day?” Some simple steps could mean being more careful with plastic usage at home, reducing packaging when shopping, preferring local markets, choosing a different transportation method, or even renovating our houses to be better insulated to reduce energy usage for cooling or heating.

For companies, it can be finding their champions, as people who are passionate about sustainability will be most likely to fight for it and inspire others. Giving these individuals the opportunity to contribute can be the turning point to inspire the wider team to create or amplify a corporate sustainability program and drive change within your community. Another benefit is making the workplace more attractive to young talent - many people who’ve recently joined the sustainability ambassadors program at VMware are our graduates! In a competitive market facing a significant skills shortage, investing in a sustainability program is really a win-win situation on all fronts.

Sustainability initiatives and communities need each other to exist and thrive. So now I pose the question back to you: how do you envision a sustainable future within your community?