Despite the upheaval caused by COVID-19, the last few years have also prompted many of us to reconsider our priorities and think about what we value most in life. I acknowledge that having the time and energy to do this hasn’t been an option available to everyone. But for those of us that have been able to work flexibly during periods of lockdown, having some extra time in our days has been a silver lining in what has been a difficult few years.
For me personally, I have found myself thinking more about what I hold dear.
Living sustainably and taking care of our planet is something I care very deeply about, and I’ve often thought about how each one of us can contribute to building a more sustainable future.
It’s something we’ve become increasingly conscious of in my own family. Last year we completed a home renovation project, and as part of that, we installed rooftop solar panels and battery storage to return any remaining energy back to the grid. At the same time, we substantially upgraded our insulation to make the house more energy-efficient. We also installed an electric vehicle charge point, in anticipation of a time in the not-too-distant future when we hope to swap out our current car for an electric or hybrid vehicle. And with the threat of drought being a constant long-term concern in Australia, we installed large water tanks to capture as much rainwater as possible. This water-saving strategy allows us to use rainwater for toilets, clothes washing and in the garden. In our garden, we’ve started growing vegetables, fruit and herbs that we use in our cooking here at home.
Like many others, we are looking for ways to make environmentally sound choices, and to be a part of a wider system that drives sustainability. But we don’t just want to make a difference at home.
Increasingly people want to bring their personal passion for sustainability to the workplace. It’s no secret that employees, and younger employees in particular, are increasingly seeking out employers that share their values.1 But it’s also true that not every organization lives up to the statements it makes about sustainability.2
Even so, the more we see individual employees wear sustainability on their sleeves, the more we’ll see them drive organizational change and work towards a net-zero future.
This Earth Day, VMware aims to drive home how all employees can make an impact in the fight against climate change. Sustainability is something that’s very important to us as a company. It is a value that we strive for throughout our operations, supply chain and technology innovations for our customers.
Having spent some time reflecting on how individuals can maximize their impact at work, I'd like to share five key ways that you can make your passion for sustainability part of the values you live out at work.
1. Choose Your Employer Wisely
Many companies publicly espouse a commitment to sustainability, but does this mean they genuinely “walk the talk”? When exploring a move to a different company, consider whether a potential employer’s stance on sustainability issues aligns with your own personal values.
One of the things that makes me particularly proud to work at VMware is our company’s unwavering commitment to sustainability. We are not shy about our efforts to become more environmentally efficient, and we have published an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy, our 2030 Agenda — a decade-long commitment to building a more sustainable, equitable and secure digital future.
Quite simply, in the same way that consumers can speak with their wallets, employees can act on their commitment to environmental causes by choosing to work for an employer that takes sustainability seriously. This might require conducting some background research and putting forward questions about sustainability in job interviews. These could include:
- Does the organization have a roadmap to more environmentally efficient operations?
- Does the company closely measure its carbon footprint, and are the figures publicly available?
- Is the company committed to engaging ethical suppliers and customers?
If an employer doesn’t have sound responses to one or all of these questions, it might be time to think twice about whether it is the right company for you.
2. Look for Opportunities
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for opportunities to make a difference in the sustainability space, even in your everyday work. Is there a logistics process that could be made more efficient and need fewer vehicle trips involved in deliveries? Could buildings lighting and cooling be used more efficiently?
And don’t forget the IT technology your company runs on. According to the International Energy Agency, data centers account for around 1% of global electricity use, with data networks using about the same amount again. Energy use can be a significant financial cost in running technology infrastructures and in companies’ overall operating expenditures.
So, any change that can make your operations more efficient and sustainable are likely to save you money in the long term. It’s something VMware works on with clients in industries, including financial services, healthcare and mining.
3. Measure Personal Climate Impact
If we all do our part to lead a more sustainable life, there is greater potential for society-wide shifts that can help to mitigate the pace and severity of climate change.
VMware’s 2022 Earth Day theme — “One VMware, One Planet, One Month, One Challenge” — is lived and breathed through individual actions, collectively throughout the organization. To provide ideas on how to reduce our carbon emissions, as well as measure our climate impact, we’re challenging employees to download and use the AWorld App, which was chosen by the U.N. to support the ActNow Campaign.
Leading a more sustainable life shouldn’t happen within a vacuum. AWorld empowers individuals to take steps towards living sustainably with the support of their team, and we’ll be offering special rewards for our most highly engaged participants. (Healthy competition can go a long way!)
4. Serve and Donate
Another way companies empower employees to make a positive environmental impact is with opportunities for Service Learning.
This includes Service Learning with environmental nonprofits, whether that be in the area of bush regeneration, developing green urban spaces, planting trees, growing organic food and more.
Consider whether your company offers employees time off to serve with nonprofits, and take advantage of it to support an environmental cause. Some companies like VMware also may have employee matching gifts programs. This gives an added boost to an employee’s own donation by matching the amount they contribute to a charitable cause. The VMware Foundation’s Citizen Philanthropy approach does this by providing a platform for VMware people to contribute time, talent and financial resources to their nonprofits of choice.
5. Become a Sustainability Ambassador
It’s our collective responsibility to build sustainable workplaces and environmentally conscious societies, but for real and meaningful change to take place, this needs to be powered by passionate individuals who lead the way forward.
These are the change-makers and forward-thinkers who take on the mantle of sustainability ambassadors in an organization. They might develop environmental sustainability initiatives in a local region or help employees to adopt sustainable mindsets to manage food waste in the office. They can influence purchasing decisions to reduce energy consumption and to prefer plastic-alternative products. At VMware, our Sustainability Ambassadors use their passion to advocate for VMware’s ESG initiatives and influence their colleagues to take action with customers.
Employees have the knowledge, skills and passion to create change for the better. There is power in numbers, and if we work together, we can create a more sustainable future — One VMware, One Planet, One Month, One Challenge at a time.
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1Deloitte, “The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey,” April 2022.
2Harvard Business Review, “Overselling Sustainability Reporting,” May-June 2021.