Over 55 years ago, scientists introduced the “greenhouse effect.” In November 1965, the Environmental Pollution Panel along with the President’s Science Advisory Committee issued a report called, “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment,” that pointed out how increasing temperatures in the atmosphere was occurring due to the buildup of carbon dioxide. The phrase “global warming” (i.e., climate change) was coined a decade later when the issue of a warming climate began to reach a larger audience.
Now, as the effects of climate change are felt by more than just the scientists, individuals around the world are urging corporations to step in. Workforces yearn for their employers to be environmentally, socially, and culturally thoughtful. In this article, we will explore the principle of sustainability and how the global mobility department can not only participate but take the lead in creating change within their corporation. Below we highlight both short- and long-term goals you can create for your global mobility program along with potential resources to help make these goals a reality.
Incorporating global mobility into your ESG strategy
One principle of sustainability surrounds the survival and well-being of our planet and all who inhabit it, which heavily relies on the state of the natural environment. We often hear how climate change is increasing the occurrence and intensity of natural disasters; however, what is not regularly discussed is the precise impact this is having on us economically. Without action, global warming imposes distinct business threats to companies, including, but not limited to:
- Ability to recruit and retain employees
- Facility damages
- Insurance rate hikes
- Labor shortages due to global climate migration
- Potential overall reduction in profits
- Reputational damage in the marketplace
- Stakeholder disapproval
- Supply chain disruption
To combat this, companies are beginning to create departments, committees, and positions to address the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) within their organization. And yet businesses are often reluctant to incorporate global mobility into ESG strategy, despite it having one of the highest carbon footprints (due to the nature of global mobility) of any HR function. As climate changes continue to worsen, mobilizing efforts to incorporate sustainable change into global mobility programs is not only necessary, but vital to the health and success of your organization, our society, and the planet. But what steps can we take to get there?
While it may seem unusual for the global mobility industry to be a leader in sustainability when the entire industry is designed around mobility and travel—strong contributors of greenhouse gases—there are actions that mobility programs can champion to incorporate sustainable choices into their programs.
Sustainable options for global mobility programs could include:
- Select accommodations that champion eco-friendly amenities and utilities
- Provide passes for public transportation or allowances for bicycle purchases
- Encourage mobile employees to make energy-efficient choices while traveling
- Opt for virtual discussions in place of physical travel for meetings that don’t require a physical presence
- Partner with vendors who share your standards on sustainability
- Work with travel agencies to determine your carbon footprint and make carbon offset contributions
Business travel (domestic and international) is necessary and plays an important role in the world and within the global mobility space. By shifting our policies and practices, we can help to reduce the negative climate consequences of global travel and collectively work toward it being a force of good for all.
Practical next steps for infusing sustainability into your global mobility program
Start by taking a baseline measurement or collection of what your global mobility programs are already doing. You might be surprised at what ESG practices or initiatives you’ve already implemented. Understanding your baseline and current policies and practices will make it easier for your organization to set future goals.
Review your current travel arrangements and map out where you can create sustainable efficiencies. Take stock of the hotels in the areas your employees travel to the most and see which ones offer eco-friendly amenities and utilities. Review past travel records and make carbon offset contributions. Highlight upcoming travel and make adjustments where reasonably allowed such as changing hotel locations and switching layover air travel to non-stop flights.
Make tracking an important component of your efforts. As an example, our technology, Whereabouts™, helps clients identify the carbon footprint of their business traveler population and allows for measurement of the impact of policy changes on that footprint. If the policy changes with respect to how employees book travel (such as fewer flights, change in direct vs layovers, etc.), mobility teams are then able to highlight that impact to their company’s leadership teams.
Draft policies that incorporate sustainability measures. Create a global mobility policy that incorporates and clearly outlines the sustainable requirements of employees who are traveling for business. Include a list of sustainable hotels allowed, specific flight requirements such as choosing non-stop versus layover flights when feasible, and highlight the acceptable allowances for sustainable choices.
Ultimately, any short-term costs associated with making sustainable choices will mitigate the long-term effects of climate change. However, there are ways to help curb expenses to alleviate the short-term burden. Global mobility programs can reduce expenses by requiring the employee to travel economy rather than business or first class. In certain countries, travel by train may be more economical than by airplane. When meetings are expected to be short and not dependent on being physically present, a virtual meeting can be applied.
Here are some climate-focused resources* that may be helpful to consider in your ESG strategy and organization:
- The 1% for the Planet membership is open to businesses and individuals that give either 1% of their annual sales or their salary (monetary or volunteer support), respectively, to environmental causes. Members can donate to one of the 4,000 environmental organizations in the 1% for the Planet network, allowing organizations to support the issues that matter most to them. To date, $275 million has been given to environmental nonprofits.
- Certified B Corporation businesses meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
- Planet Mark is a sustainability certification for every type of organization that helps to strengthen your ESG strategy and contribute to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. Planet Mark measures your climate and social data, allowing you to be both transparent and confident in your ESG goals of obtaining net zero and carbon neutral status.
- Specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), the SME Climate Hub acts as a one-stop shop to making a climate commitment and provides access to tools and resources you need to future-proof your business. After signing a commitment to reduce your emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions before 2050, you’re given access to tools and resources that have been tailored to support SMEs. By making the SME Climate Commitment, your business will be recognized by the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, giving your business visibility in the community and with your clients.
- The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program showcases a variety of eco-friendly hotels and B&Bs, from budget to luxury, and they’re committed to green practices such as recycling, local and organic food, and electric car charging stations. To find green hotels, look for the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders badge on the hotel’s listing page and click to see the property’s green practices.
*We are not endorsing any one resource over another, but rather sharing these for your consideration. The responsibility to move forward with any of the organizations remains on the requesting company.
In the end, it is possible to incorporate sustainable practices into your global mobility program. By reviewing your program capabilities, policies, processes, and adding creative sustainable solutions, you can make sure your program is prepared to weather the changes that lie ahead. And don’t forget to invite the voices of your staff into the conversation. Everyone has a unique and valuable perspective on the issue of sustainability and climate change and can be beneficial partners to the conversation.
If you are looking for ways to partner with other businesses who are passionate about sustainability in the global mobility industry, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can tackle the climate crisis together.
GTN’s Mobile Workforce Management solution helps clients track and manage the travel of their entire workforce, including global and domestic business travelers and remote workers. Through this tool, employers can monitor the carbon impact of their employee’s travel and analyze more energy-efficient modes of transportation. Schedule a call with our team to see how we can help.