The 2021 Genesys Sustainability Report: Join Us on Our Journey

Following is a discussion between Eric Thomas, Global DEI Officer at Genesys and Bridgette McAdoo, Global Sustainability Officer at Genesys.

Genesys is now in the second year of building out a formal sustainability practice. After hiring Bridgette McAdoo as Global Sustainability Officer in 2020, Genesys posted its inaugural sustainability report the following year. That report established a baseline for the company and set forth the goals for Genesys in terms of contributing to a more sustainable future for the communities where we work and live.

The 2021 report, which reflects results from fiscal year 2022, outlines the progress the company has made toward those goals, including double-digit reduction in emissions, increasingly diverse representation across the organisation and new ways the company is using its products for positive impact on people’s lives.

As Global DEI Officer at Genesys, I recently sat down with my colleague Bridgette McAdoo to discuss the release of the second annual sustainability report, as well as some of the successes we’ve had thus far — and some of the challenges we face moving forward — in our respective practices.

Eric Thomas: First I’d like to congratulate you for completing the second annual Genesys Sustainability Report.

Bridgette McAdoo: Thank you, Eric. And thank you for your contributions to it as well, reporting on the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practice’s growth. Putting the report together — this year and last year — the conviction that we have both organisationally and from our CEO is really noteworthy.

Eric: Yes, we’ve been fortunate to have a CEO who stays committed to his convictions in terms of meeting sustainability goals and creating equity in our employee experience.

Bridgette: Agreed. Having that backing has been huge for both of us. In less than two years, we’ve gone from building our respective practices and teams to embedding DEI and sustainability into the fabric of employee roles and responsibilities. We went from “awareness to ownership,” as you like to say. But with that ownership comes great responsibility. Changing the culture comes with KPIs.

Eric: That’s right. And that’s also why reporting this year’s results is such a pleasure. We’re seeing increasingly diverse representation across the organization — with double-digit growth across the majority of our areas of focus. We’ve increased the number of women in leadership roles by 12% across our global workforce of more than 6,000 employees. We’ve also doubled the number of Black folks in leadership roles.

Bridgette: It’s been a similar story with our journey to become carbon neutral, and we’re on pace to meet our goals. Migrating customers to the cloud, IT recovery projects, and selecting green buildings and sites for our new offices are starting to pay real dividends. We moved from a “bronze” to “silver” rating from EcoVadis in just a single year, putting us in the top 25% of the companies they rate. We also signed The Climate Pledge, making us one of 300 companies to publicly pledge to reach zero emissions. You can feel the culture shifting.

Eric: The external-facing numbers tell one story, but we’re starting to gather data from our employees here to monitor progress, too. We launched the inclusion indices as a tool to measure employee satisfaction two years ago. Since then, we’ve closed some gaps around “fairness” and “belonging” by 8% and 5%, respectively, over the previous year. We also had noteworthy attrition among underrepresented groups that we’ve worked hard to close over the past year. The KPIs don’t lie.

Bridgette: A year ago, we made it a stated goal to “positively impact 1 million lives” through our work, and we really have moved the needle a lot more than I thought we’d be able to in such a short time. We had incredible results with our food drive last winter and raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for aid and relief in Ukraine. Through giving, volunteerism and our Product for Good program, we’ve created a measurable impact. Our partnership with Be My Eyes is a perfect example of how our product can help people with unique needs, such as visual impairment. Thinking holistically about our  sustainability and DEI strategies creates the opportunity to find creative solutions.

Eric: Agreed. Merging sustainability goals with business goals and embedding DEI principles across our business practices really are quite similar goals. The tasks related to them might be different, but the goals are very similar.

Bridgette: Building our cloud business and supporting customers who want to migrate from on-premises to cloud-based customer support systems is probably the most obvious example of an area that’s both good for business and the environment. The benefit to the business is tangible for all involved, but we also can reduce our customer’s carbon footprint by at least 80% compared to on-prem systems.

Another example that really jumps out is the benefits that will soon be quantifiable from new, more efficient offices. Our new office in Galway, Ireland, as well as our new headquarters in Menlo Park are both expected to achieve LEED Platinum status. Where do you see this type of overlap between the business goals and DEI?

Eric: Well, the answers tend to be more nuanced and our path to creating a practice that creates obvious business value is somewhat different. In the first year of our DEI efforts, we focused on building a solid foundation for a long-term, sustainable set of practices. We built infrastructure around diversity-focused recruiting practices. We created methodologies for measuring “fairness” and “belonging” in the employee experience. And we bolstered our learning and development curriculum to educate our workforce. We had to teach folks what an inclusive culture looks like and then work directly with HR leaders to embed equity into our processes, practices and policies.

In our second year, our focus has shifted a bit. We’re engaging more intimately with business leaders to embed the principles of DEI into their daily business practices. We also need to take a very hands-on approach to ensure that corporate DEI initiatives are a key part of the operating rhythm. We’ve also evolved our analytical and reporting capabilities to provide visibility into how various leaders are performing against goals. So, it’s not a short answer.

Our goal is to demonstrate the business value of diverse, inclusive, equitably compensated and governed teams over time. Department by department. Team by team. We’ll start to see the connection to profitability and business value more over time. As we pivot from engagement to ownership, we’ll see more of the story emerge. How have you been able to create a culture of action around sustainability in such a short time?

Bridgette: As you know, it’s not easy. But we’ve deployed a couple of tactics that have helped employees to be more engaged. First, we recruited a global team of sustainability ambassadors to promote our efforts. Our ambassadors are our advocates and innovators, coming up with new ideas and creating programs that extend and amplify our efforts. They’re on the frontlines of change.

We’ve also created an entire month of activities around Earth Day in April that you were a big part of this year. Sustainability Month is an opportunity for us to create a persistent drumbeat to our messaging for a whole month that really emphasises our holistic approach and shows people the myriad ways they can get involved — from education to philanthropy, volunteering opportunities to tips on sustainability for employees to use in their personal lives.

This is a team sport, and we need each employee to participate for us to win. We really need everyone across our value chain to join us on our journey. I’ve been saying that for a couple of months now, but my goal is really to make sustainability an organic extension of not only how we live but how we work.

Eric: It’s really the same with DEI in that regard. The connection to personal life is a little more tenuous, but hopefully some of the principles of DEI that we espouse are starting to find their way into people’s personal lives as well as their professional ones.

Our efforts to embed DEI principles within the operating fabric of how we show up at work is now a truly global concern. We’ve been using our Better Together events to develop intercultural competencies since day one. And now we’re getting more granular — digging in on a region-by-region basis to embrace the richness of our global team and our shared humanity. And we’ve seen the passionate response within regional diversity councils that will expand our ability to foster a sense of inclusion and belonging around the globe.

Bridgette: It truly takes all of us.

Eric: Indeed it does.

Bridgette: Moving forward together will take us all further and faster than moving alone.

Eric: Congratulations again on your team’s progress — all of our progress, really. I look forward to seeing where this work takes us both.

Bridgette: Thank you, Eric.

For more information, read the Sustainability Report.