To Be a Truly Net Zero Organization, Focus on These Three Areas

(Credit: Capgemini)

There is a lot of talk around companies and organizations committing to becoming net zero within the next 30 years. But what does that really mean? Net zero, or carbon neutrality, is when a balance is achieved between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the ecosystem. Setting such sustainability goals and targets is an important step as companies work to decrease their carbon footprints, but how can they push the creation of a long-term, sustainable, and scalable business world to a new level?

To be truly net zero, companies can’t only focus on individual and internal operational efficiencies; they need to assess the full breadth and depth of their businesses. By evaluating every area the business touches from an emissions standpoint – their suppliers as well as their clients – companies can not only become net zero themselves, but create an entire net zero ecosystem.

To reduce carbon emissions beyond Scope 1 (those that result from a company’s own activities or operations), organizations must evaluate the lifecycle of their business to accurately determine their carbon footprint. If your company is looking to achieve this next level of net zero ambition, here are three areas to focus on:

Upstream suppliers

Data in a study done by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in 2019 revealed that supply chain emissions are on average 5.5 times greater than an individual corporation’s direct emissions. Companies are at different stages along their net zero journeys, with different timeframes and targets, but how can your organization leverage its expertise to help drive others towards success? As your company invests in its own carbon emission reduction program, you can help provide solutions for your suppliers to be more sustainable as well, if they aren’t already.

This can include different ways to increase accountability, incentivize suppliers, and drive them closer to achieving net zero goals with you, for example:

Emphasize the importance of the initiative, and the company’s bigger business strategy, to the suppliers so they are on board and in-line as they strive to win business.
Make net zero a part of agreements with partners and suppliers – or a future goal that your company can help them achieve.
Create platforms where suppliers can see their emission scores relative to others within each area of the services that they provide.

Downstream customers

Although your company may be making strides towards net zero, what about the clients and customers you serve and work with?

Many industries can influence their clients and customers by turning them into strategic partners and allies in the mission to tackle carbon emissions, together. In consulting, for example, companies can make net zero a dimension of every offer, proposal, or package that is put in front of client teams. Clients can benefit from a strategic engagement to help navigate the complicated landscape with consulting providers that have tackled net zero within their own organizations. This could help them create, and eventually work towards, their own net zero goals by evaluating everything from their suppliers to their output. Additionally, many companies across industries can make net zero a part of their sales and marketing strategy to showcase the importance of this initiative to their clients and customers.

Corporate branding and messaging

After addressing your own organization and its affiliates, it becomes important to evaluate how to use your platform and voice to make a deeper impact across the industry.

With net zero embedded into an organization’s corporate strategy, ask: how can we make sustainability relevant to all employees on a personal level? The goal is to inspire employees to become allies and advocates, even outside the workplace. Additionally, with media strategy serving as a primary platform for corporate messaging, it becomes imperative to integrate your organization’s sustainability initiatives into external communications.

While setting a company’s own internal net zero targets is a great foundation for the carbon emission reduction agenda, it is important to always ask “What’s next?” Evaluating direct emissions is just the start, but it’s not where the work ends. Focusing on the full scope ofemissions of suppliers and customers, as well as incorporating sustainability into corporate branding and messaging, will help companies to truly achieve the sustainable future they want – and accelerate their path to a net zero ecosystem.

By Michael Doyle, EVP of Energy, Utilities, and Chemicals at Capgemini North America

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