A global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation, Capgemini is at the forefront of innovation in the evolving world of cloud, digital and platforms. With Altran, the Group reported 2019 combined global revenues of €17 billion. What sets the company apart from other global businesses is the conviction that the business value of technology comes from and through people. This is a multicultural company of 200,000 team members in over 40 countries. The Capgemini UK environmental sustainability programme has come a long way since 2008, including having reduced absolute carbon emissions by 42%.
Environmental Sustainability is a key part of the company’s overall ‘Architects of Positive Futures’ approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability.
Their landmark “Ten From Ten” paper summarises 10 key lessons from 10 years of the sustainability programme. It has words of wisdom for other companies looking to elevate their environmental stewardship. Extracts from the report:
10 key lessons in sustainability from Capgemini UK
Writes Dr James Robey, Vice President – Global Head of Environmental Sustainability: “2008 was a significant year for the environmental sustainability agenda in the UK. The Climate Change Act 2008 passed into law, setting a 2050 target and providing a roadmap for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and an agreed system of carbon budgeting. 2008 was also a significant year for Capgemini in the UK, marking the launch of our environmental sustainability programme and the formalisation of our carbon reduction targets.”
Lesson 1: Be bold with your targets
Boldness is one of the seven core values that have guided Capgemini throughout the past 50 years, and this value has also been core to their approach when setting carbon reduction targets. Capgemini UK established its inaugural sustainability targets in 2008, which they subsequently embedded into a seven-year IT services contract with the Environment Agency.
Says Christine Hodgson, Capgemini UK Chairman and Capgemini Group Chief CSR Officer: “That contract was a real milestone. We put our environmental targets in as a condition of the contract. We were so serious about the targets that, not only did we put them on a wall and in our reports, we put them in a contract.”
To reduce carbon footprint by 20% by 2014 – excluding data centres (vs. 2008)
In 2012, they achieved their initial headline target of reducing carbon footprint by 20% by 2014 (excluding data centres which were given their own specific target) two years ahead of schedule. By 2014, they had achieved a 28% reduction significantly over-achieving their initial aspiration.
As well as their headline carbon reduction target, they set a number of supporting targets including a business travel emissions reduction target — to reduce carbon emissions related to business travel by 30% by 2014 (vs. 2008).
In an industry which is heavily reliant upon the mobility of its people to meet the needs of its clients, business travel poses a significant challenge and they fell short of their 30% reduction target. Whilst they did not meet the target, setting an ambitious target and establishing an award winning ‘TravelWell’ programme did help them achieve an impressive 22% reduction in business travel emissions between 2008 and 2014.
To reduce carbon footprint by a further 10% by 2017 (vs. 2014)
Having delivered on their initial headline target, they then established an incremental target to reduce overall carbon footprint (excluding data centres) by a further 10% by 2017 while considering setting appropriate longer-term targets. This they did in 2016, with Capgemini UK becoming the first company in the IT services and consulting sector to establish a “science-based target”.
What is a science-based target?
A “science-based target,” verified by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), ensures their carbon reduction objectives are in line with the level of decarbonisation required to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the goal set out at the 2015 COP21 conference in Paris.
Capgemini UK analysed the various methodologies available before agreeing on their key metric (emissions per employee) as the most appropriate for their business, underpinned with a focus on driving an absolute reduction in their largest impact areas, business travel, and office and data centre energy use. Their focus was on reducing their total carbon footprint whilst decoupling business growth from emissions. This is particularly important in the technology sector where predicting the future shape of the industry in 2030 is highly challenging.
Setting a Science-Based Target
Striving to achieve half their target in the first five years was another bold move, and while not necessary to achieve validation from SBTi, was driven by two factors. First, from an environmental perspective, frontending the target reduces the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere, and second, from the business perspective, it created a sense of urgency which has helped to mobilise their people and demonstrate the scale of what is achievable.
Publicly committing to an ambitious and long-term target, particularly in an uncertain economy, could have been perceived as a risk. However, their senior leadership was committed to making a material difference as explained by Paul Margetts (Managing Director, UK Business Unit): “Setting these targets was a bold move, and it’s paying off. In three years, we reduced our carbon emissions per employee by 30%, driven by operational efficiency programmes and our people consciously taking action to help reduce our collective carbon footprint.”
As noted by Paul Margetts, once again the business responded to a bold target, and by the end of 2017 had achieved a 30% reduction over-achieving the 2020 20% target.
Lesson 2: Unlock your data
Good data is fundamental for making good decisions, and that is why they have underpinned their sustainability programme with a comprehensive data set comprising 10 million data points collected and analysed each year. They work hard to ensure their data is relevant, comprehensive, consistent and complete, with one central team collating, processing and reporting data.
Visualising data so that decisions can be made easily is critical to the success of any carbon accounting process. When Capgemini UK launched their sustainability programme in 2008, they started with a set of spreadsheets calculating the UK’s annual carbon footprint and presenting the outputs as simple line graphs and bar charts. As they matured, they developed new ways of visualising this data to derive greater insights.
They track progress towards the science-based target using rolling year data as this minimises the monthly and seasonal fluctuations. More sophisticated charts, such as the tree map chart of carbon data by source by country, are employed for analysing carbon hot-spots across the Capgemini Group.
On the micro level, they are able to generate both project-specific carbon reports for clients and individual carbon statements for their people, enabling individuals and teams to track their own emissions and identify opportunities for carbon reductions where possible.
On the macro level, across the Capgemini Group, their carbon accounting tool enables them to forecast global emissions, track progress against their ambitious environmental targets and react to risks and opportunities as they emerge.
The quality of their forecasting is tested each year when they have to extrapolate much of the Q4 carbon emissions in order to report full-year global carbon emissions in February for inclusion in their Group Annual Report. They then recalculate the actual footprint in April once the final full year figures. Both sets of data are audited by external financial auditors, KPMG.
They also compare the environmental performance of Capgemini UK’s individual business units to ensure that each business area is contributing to their reduction campaign. This data is reported monthly to the UK Architects of Positive Futures Board (chaired by Paul Margetts – Managing Director and comprising senior representatives from across Capgemini UK).
Global Carbon Hackathon
Always striving to identify innovative approaches to data analytics, in 2017, they undertook a Global Carbon Hackathon. Aiming to disrupt and innovate with their carbon data, the Global Carbon Hackathon unleashed the power of collective creativity to provide fresh insight into their carbon data.
For a two-week period, 52 teams representing 11 countries from across the Capgemini Group were given access to an extract of their carbon data with the goal of developing innovative new ways of visualising and extracting insight from the data. The competition captured the imagination of over 200 data scientists, developers and analysts who developed new ways to visualise the data and created innovative ideas for applications that could drive reduction of carbon.
The best ideas were shortlisted by technology and sustainability experts from across the Capgemini Group, with the eight shortlisted teams asked to pitch their ideas to a panel in a final Dragon’s Den style event. The panel consisted of senior leaders from across the Group including Christine Hodgson (Chairman, Capgemini UK and Group Head of CSR), Frank Wammes (Chief Technology Officer, Capgemini Netherlands) and Patrice Duboé (Innovation VP, Capgemini France).
The final winners were a UK-based team named Greenovation. Their entry combined interactive data visualisations designed to inform strategic decision-making, with an idea for employee app to allow teams to track and compete to reduce their travel impacts.
Lesson 3: Use the expertise of your people
Founded by Serge Kampf in 1967, Capgemini has grown from six pioneers working out of a two-room apartment in Grenoble to a global company with over 200,000 people present in over 40 countries. This extraordinary growth has been fuelled by a spirit of entrepreneurship.
When they established their sustainability programme in 2008, they embraced this same entrepreneurial spirit, calling upon the talent and passion of their people to help in their quest for a more sustainable future. This enthusiasm and expertise has enabled them to deliver the majority of their progress using the talent of their people.
Two clear examples of this have been in the development of their carbon accounting approach and the evolution of their Environmental Management System (EMS). Both started as initiatives in the UK and have grown over time to provide the backbone of Capgemini’s global approach to environmental management.
By using their own expertise and developing internal capabilities, they have created a more tailored, consistent and efficient approach to environmental management across the Capgemini Group. Since the inception of both the UK Environmental Management System (EMS) and Carbon Accounting programme in 2008, the same core team has gradually expanded to support other countries from around the Capgemini Group, ultimately achieving global carbon emissions reporting in 2012 and a Group ISO 14001 certification in 2016.
Their central business philosophy is that ‘People Matter, Results Count’; this philosophy runs through all their Environmental policies and practices. When they established their Environmental Sustainability programme, they put people first. They began by developing online environmental awareness training which is mandatory for all people.
Building on this, they frequently release engaging communications and reports to educate and inform employees on their latest sustainability aspirations and achievements. Their people-centred and entrepreneurial approach to environmental management has helped shift sustainability from being the responsibility of a small team of experts, to being an integral part of Capgemini UK corporate culture.
Lesson 4: Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint
When they set out on their sustainability journey 10 years ago, they began by focussing efforts on reducing the energy used in offices and data centres, as these were the two largest sources of direct carbon emissions. They soon learnt that there was no quick fix and that achieving any significant energy savings would require a wide-ranging programme of activities spanning behaviour change campaigns, new technologies and infrastructure improvements. They prepared themselves for a marathon, not a sprint.
Optimise the energy efficiency of your office space
Since 2008, they have almost doubled the energy efficiency of their offices through an ISO 50001 certified energy management system. Achieving this was no mean task. They started simple; making small changes to the things that were within easy control, such as maximising the use of natural light, managing office temperatures centrally to maximise efficiency and investing in energy saving technology such as LED lights and new hand driers.
By installing building management systems (BMS) across their estate, they were able to automate building controls to maximise efficiency as well as provide zonal management of the building. With the data collected by the BMS they are also able to conduct analyses to identify inefficiencies within operations and then apply corrective measures accordingly.
In 2009, they established a sustainability carbon fund dedicated to infrastructure improvement and energy efficiency schemes. The fund was used for a number of projects, from installing solar panels and rainwater harvesting units, to replacing inefficient HVAC and boiler systems. However, the real success of the carbon fund was in changing the perception of the finance team, who began to appreciate the clear business benefits of investing in energy saving measures. The sustainability fund has ceased to be required since these types of investments have become common practice within their real-estate strategy.
They take the same approach with all investments to ensure a positive outcome; starting with a pilot to test the technology and educate key stakeholders to ensure they can adopt the technology. They then measure the outcome of the pilot and if successful, scale the technology across our estate, measuring the collective savings through their carbon accounting system.
Consolidate your office space by working smarter
By using their office space more intelligently, they have been able to consolidate their portfolio of offices. For example, in 2016, Capgemini UK integrated two of their London offices into one central office. This involved reducing the London office floor area by 57% and resulted in estimated energy savings of over 700,000 kWh per year. To achieve this, they completely redesigned the central London office to maximise the utilisation of space and accommodate for peoples’ varying needs.
By moving from fixed to bookable hot desks, they ensured optimum use of office space, whilst providing alternative spaces such as collaboration zones for team planning sessions and digital hubs for virtual collaboration. By consolidating their office space and using it more intelligently, they have more than halved the amount of office energy consumed per person since 2008.
Commit to investing in renewable energy
In 2008, they made a simple but important decision. Capgemini UK changed their energy policy to procure green electricity for 100% of the offices and data centres where they are responsible for the energy contracts. They have done this continually since 2008 under successive long-term electricity contracts.
While renewable energy is now commonplace within commercial energy procurement strategies, it only contributed 5% to the UK energy mix in 2008 and very few companies had committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy. Their rationale for switching to a 100% renewable energy tariff was to help stimulate the increase in renewable energy production within the UK energy market. The UK has significantly increased its investment in renewable energy over the past decade. In fact, during the first quarter of 2018, 30.1% of the electricity consumed in the UK came from a renewable energy source.
Not only are they committed to purchasing renewable where they can, they have also invested in a number of renewable energy generation projects. Accordingly, they have installed both a solar thermal system and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of the Aston office.
Lesson 5: Tackle the Elephant in the Room
Business travel is often lower down the list of priorities for organisations to address – it’s a “Scope 3” or “indirect” emissions source, meaning it can be hard to measure and even harder to influence. However, as a people-centred business with a growing global client base, business travel is a significant impact area, now accounting for over half of Capgemini UK’s carbon footprint. Therefore, it quickly became critical for them to address this travel challenge head on – they needed to tackle the elephant in the room.
They began by developing an accurate understanding of their business travel emissions using world-class carbon accounting capabilities. They went on to develop TravelWell, a holistic and award-winning approach to sustainable travel. This programme has since evolved into ConnectWell, recognising that in a digital age, the focus should not be on travel but more broadly on how they enable people to connect with clients and colleagues in a sustainable way. Travel is only one component of this.
Since 2008, they have achieved an 18% reduction in absolute business travel emissions. This reduction is made even more significant within the context of Capgemini’s growing headcount and increasingly global client base. In particular, they have achieved a 45% reduction in car emissions by reducing their company car fleet emissions average by 32% (107g/km in 2017), as well as promoting train travel and lift-sharing as a more sustainable alternative.
Taking employees on the journey
They have continually communicated to employees the importance of taking a sustainable approach to business travel from an environmental, economic and wellbeing perspective and have learned a lot about what resonates and what doesn’t. Over a number of years, they provided employees with individualised travel carbon statements – the theory being that if people could see their carbon impacts of their business travel this would help them make a more informed decision on how to travel.
Whilst the statements may have helped some to understand the carbon associated with their travel, for others they became a reminder of a situation they had limited influence over, and as such did not achieve the desired outcome. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenge, which is why they have spent time researching and developing profiles of the different types of travellers within their business and engaging with the larger client account teams to understand their specific travel requirements.
Promoting the time and wellbeing benefits of reducing excessive business travel has often proved more effective than focussing on a less tangible aspect like carbon. Their current approach is wide-ranging – designed to equip people with the tools, policies, infrastructure and information they need to make smart decisions when it comes to connecting with clients and colleagues and to reclaim their time from excessive travel where possible.
Connecting people in a digital age
Business travel emissions remain a key focus for the sustainability team with a new target in place to reduce business travel emissions by a further 25% by 2020. The most powerful way of doing so remains to avoid travelling where possible, and their ability to work and collaborate virtually is essential in today’s digital age of flexible workforces.
They have made significant investments in online collaboration technologies and encourage people to embrace new ways of connecting virtually, without compromising on the value they gain from spending time face-to-face with clients. Ensuring their people can seamlessly and securely connect from any device, in any location, is critical to success, so they have been partnering with their global IT function to deliver this programme.
They have seen excellent takeup in virtual collaboration, with 2.1 million hours of Skype for Business calls undertaken in 2017 (a 44% increase from 2016). They also continued to roll-out new technologies, such as Microsoft Surface Hubs, which enable users to collaborate on documents and digital whiteboards across multiple locations in real-time.
Listening to the feedback of people has been critical to taking them on the journey with Capgemini UK and developing programmes that address their needs. They have run several employee surveys to gather feedback and generate new ideas and solutions to the challenge. For example, in a recent ConnectWell survey they found that the greatest barrier to transitioning to more virtual collaboration is the lack of shared norms and behaviours. To address this, they have started running a number of virtual collaboration pilots to understand and develop what shared norms and behaviours they need as a business.
They are finding that simple steps such as normalising switching on video cameras during conference calls are increasing the effectiveness of virtual collaboration and the level of engagement when working remotely.
Lesson 6: Rewrite the rule book
Globally, it is estimated that data centres contribute an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions to the aviation industry. A recent academic study predicts that their contribution will increase to 3.2% of the global carbon emissions by 2025. However, data centres are also an integral part of our economy and society. Every time we make a purchase online, send an email, stream a video or post a picture on social media, we are utilising a data centre somewhere in the world.
When Capgemini UK set out on their sustainability journey in 2008, the electricity consumed by their data centres accounted for approximately 70% of their total electricity consumption and more than half of their total carbon emissions. This was due to the extremely energy intensive activities of powering and cooling the servers. Not willing to accept that delivering world-class IT services to clients must come at the expense of the natural environment, they set about rewriting the rule book to find a more sustainable solution.
In September 2010, they opened Merlin – their pioneering sustainable data centre. Located in Swindon, this high specification facility set a new global standard for energy efficient data centres, which are good for the environment and good for business. Their team re-examined, reconsidered and redesigned every aspect of the “traditional” data centre model, and effectively rewrote the rule book.
By taking a totally fresh approach, identifying the right suppliers, utilising the best available technologies and selecting an optimal geographical location, they were able to create a new standard for sustainable data centre design and build. In doing so, they not only addressed the need to use power more efficiently, but also considered how a range of other sustainability requirements could be met and costs reduced for clients.
Market leading Power Usage Efficiency
Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) is the industry metric used to measure data centre efficiency and in 2011, the market average PUE was 1.98. During controlled factory testing, under the full range of specified environmental conditions, Merlin achieved a PUE of 1.08 and under operational conditions, with the additional calculated electrical and UPS losses, Merlin achieved a PUE of 1.10, making it one of the most sustainable data centres in the world.
Merlin was recognised externally for its innovative approach to sustainability, being awarded the EU Code of Conduct Award for ‘Data Centre Innovation and Energy Efficiency’, as well as being certified as a Tier 3 facility by Uptime Institute, one of only three such sites in the UK at the time.
Lesson 7: Look through a different lens
They look at problems through different lenses and from various perspectives. Consider waste as an example, when first looking at the problem of waste, they focussed their attention and efforts on tracking where it ended up. They installed central waste recycling points in all offices with separate, clearly labelled bins for recycling, landfill, paper and food waste. They worked with waste carriers to ensure that it was being correctly handled and disposed of. They put ambitious targets in place across larger offices to send zero waste to landfill. These measures helped to significantly reduce the amount of waste they were sending to landfill, with 95% of waste diverted from landfill in 2017.
Whilst, the measures they had put in place were proving very effective, they weren’t addressing the root-cause of the problem as demonstrated by the fact that the absolute amount of waste generated in 2017 increased by 12% compared to the previous year. They knew that they needed to look at the problem through a different lens, focussing not only on where the waste ended but where it came from in the first place.
As a business, Capgemini buys thousands of products each year that could potentially become or create waste; from single-use kitchen items and office furniture to marketing merchandise and IT equipment. By re-assessing the products, their design, what they are made of and how long they will last, they began to reduce the amount of waste generated through operations. Not only are there clear environmental benefits in doing so, it also generates cost savings for the business.
Helping their people Rethink Waste
On World Environment Day in 2018, they challenged employees to ‘Rethink Waste’ by running a social media and internal communications campaign encouraging them to think about the steps they can take to remove waste from their working day, whilst also promoting their initiatives to reduce waste in their operations.
The campaign #stopbuyingwaste was a great success with over 800 people globally engaging with the campaign and sharing the actions they were taking. Through measuring the amount of waste created before and after the campaign, they saw a 7% reduction in waste brought into the UK offices, which is the equivalent of every office-based employee reducing their personal consumption by one water bottle, two coffee cups, five pieces of paper and one lunch paper bag.
4 principles of Capgemini’s Stop Buying Waste programme:
They are looking at ways of applying these principles within their operations and procurement activity, and have already identified some quick wins to stop buying waste.
1) Buy Less: They invested in a new piece of technology which charges normal tap water with electricity to create a powerful natural cleaning solution. By installing these machines, they no longer need to buy single-use disinfectant and have created a more sustainable way to keep offices clean.
2) Increase Life: They have replaced traditional fluorescent office lighting with LED equivalents. This decision wasn’t only good for reducing office energy consumption, but also reduced the amount of hazardous waste they generate over time since LED lights have a significantly longer life expectancy compared to fluorescent lights and do not contain hazardous chemicals such as mercury.
3) Design for reuse: When refurbishing their offices, they purchased office chairs which are 91% recyclable at the end of their useful life as well as carpets which are 100% recyclable. They also looked for ways of giving new life to old items, for example by donating old office furniture to local charities and community groups.
4) Sustainable Materials: They replaced foamcore (a non-recyclable material that is used during client events for illustrated drawings and signage) with a recyclable cardboard alternative. They also worked with their mobile phone provider to ensure SIM cards are sent in paper envelopes as opposed to plastic bags.
There is a long way still to go, but by applying these principles the team at Capgemini UK believe that they can make a substantial reduction in the amount of waste they generate through their operations.
Lesson 8: Focus on where you have the greatest positive impact
Since the beginning of Capgemini UK’s sustainability programme, they have approached the topic with a sense of urgency, driven by their understanding of the risks posed by climate change.
At this critical moment, the question that companies need to be asking is:
‘What is the most material impact our organisation can make to address climate change?’
This is the question which has helped redefine their sustainability agenda.
Whilst they do not underestimate the importance of reducing their own operational footprint, the combined direct carbon emissions of their top 20 global clients is approximately 250 million tCO2 e per year; this equates to over 500 times Capgemini’s global annual carbon emissions (c.500,000 tCO2 e). Thus, if they can help their top 20 clients achieve even a 0.002% reduction in their emissions through transformation and technology services, this would be equivalent to eliminating Capgemini’s entire annual carbon footprint. It is this fresh perspective which led the Capgemini Group to announce a new bold target in 2017 – to help clients save 10 million tCO2 e by 2030.
Demonstrating their ability to help clients with their sustainability challenges is also becoming an important business credential. They know that many of their clients are already facing business pressures stemming from resource scarcity and disruption to operations from climate change-related events. Businesses across all sectors are looking to find new ways of operating which increase efficiency and reduce cost whilst enhancing their sustainability.
They firmly believe that technology is one of the key levers they have to meet the mounting challenges of climate change. The fourth industrial revolution, driven by technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT), is set to transform how humanity manages its environmental impacts. These technologies possess the capability, if applied correctly, to play an instrumental part in rapidly decarbonising the global economy.
According to the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, a leading resource on best practices for achieving integrated social and environmental sustainability, the ICT sector has the potential to cut global greenhouses gas emissions by 9.7 times that which itself produces. As a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation, Capgemini is in a significant position to leverage its capabilities and expertise to enable clients to address their most pressing sustainability challenges.
The journey to understanding the sustainability benefits of their technology solutions began in 2009, when they signed a landmark seven-year IT services contract with the UK Government Environment Agency, which at the time was heralded as the most sustainable ICT contract in Government.
They wrote sustainability targets and service level agreements into the core of this contract ensuring that sustainability was absolutely integral to every aspect of their service delivery. This bold step mobilised the business; failure was not an option, so a robust plan was developed to set about decarbonising their operations and delivering sustainable IT services to their clients. This included rewriting the rule-book on data centres to create one of the world’s most sustainable data centres, Merlin.
In 2013, Capgemini UK became a founding member of Net Positive, a cross-sector coalition that aimed to shift the role of business in society, changing the focus from minimising negative impacts to defining new ways of doing business that put more into society, the environment and the global economy than they take out.
They particularly focused on how technology can be leveraged to enable their clients in the UK to reduce their carbon emissions and achieve their sustainability targets. They started this approach as a pilot in the UK but quickly came to realise that in order to maximise their contribution in addressing climate change, they needed to scale the pilot to assess the sustainability benefits of their global portfolio of client services.
Helping clients reduce their carbon footprint
1) Enabling smart fleet management to reduce fuel consumption
They have implemented a number of smart fleet management solutions including a tool which examines delivery schedules to optimise the route and thereby increase the fuel-efficiency of the fleet; a telematics solution which tracks driver behaviours to encourage increased fuel efficiency; and a solution to optimise the load capacity of every delivery reducing the number of journeys required. Every 1 million litres of fuel saved through the smart fleet management solution, equals a carbon emissions saving of 3,200 tCO2 e.
2) Preventing water leaks through advanced data analytics
They have developed advanced data analytics tools which mitigate water leaks through proactive detection. Their big-data based analytics solution enables the identification of leaks, often weeks earlier than they would have been traditionally identified. A report by Ofwat highlighted that the water industry accounts for 0.7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, reflecting the high carbon intensity of creating and distributing safe water. Every 100 megalitres of water saved through their leak detection solution equals a carbon emissions saving of 105 tCO2 e.
3) Rationalising IT estates to reduce energy consumption
One of their key service offerings is the rationalisation of IT infrastructure and the migration to more energy efficient cloud platforms. By reducing the number of servers required to host systems, both the amount of energy consumed by the equipment and the carbon embedded in the physical hardware can be reduced. Every 100 servers migrated from a traditional data centre to a public cloud equals a potential carbon saving of 260 tCO2 e per year.
Lesson 9: Ignite the passion of your people
Capgemini has grown from six pioneers working out of a two-bedroom apartment in France, in 1967, to a global company with over 200,000 people present in over 40 countries. This extraordinary growth over 50 years has been fuelled by a spirit of entrepreneurship – people following their passions and making a material difference on problems that matter.
Their people-centred approach to business is highlighted in the company’s vision statement: ‘The business value of technology comes from and through people’.
When they established their sustainability programme in 2008, they knew that in order to make a lasting impact they would need to ignite the passion of their people to maximise the impact that they could make as an organisation. To do this they established a three-stage communication and engagement strategy based around: Education, Engagement and Empowerment.
In order to ensure everyone at Capgemini UK understands the significance of sustainability and climate change, and the role they can play in accelerating their Positive Planet programme, they require 100% of their people to complete an e-learning module on environmental sustainability. In addition to this, they communicate regularly on environmental topics through internal news articles, blogs, videos, reports and thought leadership series such as this one. They host an annual awareness week which coincides with World Environment Day (5th June) where they run competitions, share updates, and challenge their people to consider how they can contribute to Capgemini’s sustainability programme.
They also believe that education is about enabling and empowering people rather than just informing them. They have made a number of changes to their workplace environment, such as replacing desk bins with clearly labelled office recycling points and replacing paper towels in washrooms with high efficiency hand dryers with posters explaining the environmental benefit of the change. These decisions empower employees to make small changes to their behaviour in order to contribute to the overall sustainability performance of the firm.
Over the past decade, they have implemented a wide range of employee engagement approaches, from physical and virtual events to sustainability networks and employee surveys. These initiatives have brought different aspects of their sustainability strategy to life using innovative and creative communications. For example, they curated an E-Waste exhibition in the London office featuring fascinating sculptures made from obsolete electronic components such as old floppy disks and broken mobile phones. The objective was to build awareness about the proper disposal of electronic waste, a critical environmental issue for a technology company such as Capgemini.
The growth in social media has also enabled a new channel for communicating information about the sustainability agenda. In 2018, they ran a social media campaign, #stopbuyingwaste, where they encouraged their people to post pledges of how they would personally commit to reduce waste in their daily lives.
This was one of their most effective campaigns to date with over 10% of all people pledging to make a difference. Pledges ranged from stopping using disposable coffee cups and shopping bags, to drinking loose leaf tea and buying unpackaged vegetables. The campaign also resulted in a 7% reduction in the amount of waste being brought into their offices.
Finally, their aim is to empower people to use their skills and expertise to make a positive contribution to their sustainability programme. One of the most engaging ways they have achieved this is through the use of hackathons. A hackathon (conflating the terms “hack” and “marathon”) involves convening a diverse group of people over a focussed period of time to solve a real-world challenge; hackathons enable their people to step out of their daily activities and apply their innovation and creativity to develop fresh solutions. It is this aspect that makes them perfect for tackling sustainability challenges.
Capgemini has held a number of hackathons in recent years such (the AI4Change Hackathon, the Social Good Hackathon and the Global Carbon Hackathon). The purpose of the Global Carbon Hackathon was to develop innovative solutions to a pressing business challenge: namely how to continue growing their business whilst reducing their carbon footprint.
The competition captured people’s imagination across the Capgemini Group with 200 individuals forming 52 teams from 11 countries (including 12 teams from the UK) participating in the challenge. Utilising the expertise and enthusiasm of Capgemini’s community of data scientists, developers and analysts, teams developed new ways of visualising carbon data and created innovative ideas for apps that could drive actions to reduce carbon emissions.
Lesson 10: Break out of your bubble
Their sustainability programme started with a number of individuals from across Capgemini UK coming together, stepping outside the bubbles of their regular day-jobs and beginning to ask what Capgemini UK should do in the light of climate change and other sustainability issues. Twelve years later, and the need to continually challenge their thinking, break out of their bubbles and engage with their clients, suppliers and colleagues on the topic of sustainability is more critical than ever.
The sustainability agenda is one which needs to impact all areas of an organisation from procurement, finance and operations, to IT, sales and delivery. Consequently, it is critical that the sustainability team remains connected across the whole value chain of the business, both inside and outside the corporate boundary. Without the on-going understanding and buy-in of the whole business, it would not be possible to continue to reduce their emissions, develop relevant sustainable client solutions or influence their suppliers.
They have learnt the importance of developing their sustainability programme in constant dialogue with key stakeholders, testing and iterating their approach to ensure it remains relevant and impactful. Central to this approach is their UK Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Board. Chaired by the Managing Director of the UK Business Unit of Capgemini and comprised of senior executives from across Capgemini UK, the Board provides the executive governance for their sustainability strategy. Over the past decade, the Board has worked to ensure that their sustainability programme remains aligned with core business strategy and that it is embedded into the operations of their teams across the UK.
The power of a conversation
A great example of getting outside the bubble is the case of Sustainability Compliance team resulting from a conversation between one of their client account managers and one of their major public sector clients. Following this conversation, Capgemini UK embarked on a journey which ultimately ensured that the sustainability credentials of 100% of their UK suppliers are regularly assessed – a significant undertaking that has been in place since 2009.
This assessment approach has grown from a simple paper-based questionnaire to an acclaimed bespoke assessment tool which is used to continuously assess 100% of their suppliers. The tool also allows the identification of high-risk suppliers with whom they directly engage on the sustainability agenda.
As well as engaging with suppliers and people, they are also increasingly starting carbon conversations with their clients. As a society, they are still only scratching the surface of the capability technology has to help them solve the systemic sustainability challenges they face globally.
One example of their commitment to participating in cross-sector initiatives was their 2018 collaboration with Business in the Community (BITC) and a number of their clients from the utilities sector. At the London Accelerated Solutions Environment, they collectively considered the sustainability challenges facing the water industry and explored how emerging technologies can be applied to help the water industry become more efficient, sustainable, and resilient against climate change. The findings of this event were used to identify a number of recommendations for government and business, as well as suggesting a new framework for creating a more sustainable future for the water industry.
Businesses must move towards doing ‘exponentially more good’ for the climate. ‘Carbon neutral,’ ‘carbon positive’ and ‘regenerative’ need to be the new levels of aspiration being set. Achieving this will require you to continually break out of the bubbles of your current thinking and become truly collaborative in your approach to solving this most critical challenge.
Technology is one of the key levers available to address the mounting challenges posed by climate change. The fourth industrial revolution, driven by technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things, has the potential to transform how humanity manages its environmental impact.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this report is excerpted from the white paper ‘Ten from Ten’. ©2019 Capgemini. All rights reserved.