Accelerating Corporate Sustainability Is a Continual Goal

More than 50 years ago, the first Earth Day signaled a growing awareness of the health of our planet and that it needs our attention and action. Today, it’s estimated that more than 190 countries and one billion individuals participate in Earth Day activities.  

As individuals and corporate citizens, we play a critical role in supporting and promoting environmental stewardship, protecting natural resources and building a more sustainable future. And sustainable business practices must be a vital piece in every strategic roadmap.   

Over the years, businesses have moved beyond simple awareness to making commitments to sustainability and developing best practices for how they operate. When I joined Genesys in December 2020 as Chief Sustainability Officer, we hit the ground running to build a sustainability strategy that represents who we are as a company. 

Every Earth Day is a reminder that part of being a great corporate steward is sharing best practices on how to integrate sustainability into the core of your business.  

Set Bold, Meaningful Goals  

There’s a common misperception that sustainability refers only to protecting the environment. But a sustainability strategy needs to be much broader than an environmental story.

One of our primary business objectives at Genesys is to move clients from on-premises environments to the cloud. In addition to migrating our customers, we focus on many components of sustainability, including sustainable procurement; risk assessments related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) domains; and amplifying supply chain diversity. 

In the first year, we developed goals and commitments to make sure that our strategy aligns with our values. For us, that meant we couldn’t be a sustainable and responsible corporate steward and not be empathetic at the same time.   

We also started with a materiality assessment to understand the risks and opportunities that could impact our company. Establishing this foundation gives businesses the synergy needed to begin a sustainability journey. From here, we educated our workforce and aligned our leadership about our global sustainability strategy.  This enabled us to set goals that were meaningful and achievable. Being transparent about goals makes a strong statement about the depth of your commitment. 

Reporting Measures Progress 

Being consistent in your reporting is an important step in your sustainability journey. This summer marks our fourth consecutive Sustainability Report. These annual reports are an important and public way to demonstrate measurable progress on the goals you set and the power of sustainability to drive momentum throughout your company. 

We’re seeing our business benefit greatly from that momentum. Genesys continues to reduce our emissions globally by evolving our customers to our cloud platform, operationalising sustainability within our business, and we are developing sustainable procurement practices. 

We’ve also increased our diversity representation through the work done by our Office of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This team and its DEI councils work with Genesys leadership to ensure that women and underrepresented groups have a sense of belonging here at Genesys.  

Another part of our mission is to have a positive impact in the community. We do that here by offering use of the Genesys Cloud™ platform at a 50% discount for approved charitable organisations, which help millions of those in need. It’s incumbent on businesses to find those challenges and use your reporting to document improvements and validate your social impact.   

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a part of everything we do, and it has the potential to cause great harm and bias if companies don’t manage and operationalise its use like any other aspect of the business.  By operationalising our strategy – and making it part of our business KPIs – we’re able to achieve goals and accelerate our progress year over year as we also mitigate risks. At Genesys, we’ve closely aligned our goals with our commitment to compliance, ethics and responsible AI.  

For AI, we ensure that we have the proper governance practices in place, including privacy, security, ethical AI and compliance. 

Sustainability Starts as a Business KPI 

Sustainability is a team sport at Genesys. It’s a cross-functional approach to embedding it into our business strategy. All the teams who own each discipline must show how they’re also meeting our sustainability goals.  

By taking this cross-functional and holistic approach, we can integrate our goals into who we are, making it into an organic extension of what we do so we can accelerate them. And now, sustainability has grown from being a strategic business KPI to an integral part of planning where all other areas of the business are aligned and committed. 

To get to this alignment, engage with each function of your company and share what’s required. It’s critical to educate stakeholders about how to use sustainability as a value driver. Focusing on your mission is important, but there’s a bigger question: Are you collectively reducing your environmental impact on the planet?   

Advancing Progress for the Long-Term 

Sustainability usually begins as a groundswell and understandably so. It’s often driven by the passion and purpose of the employees. Accelerating beyond that requires commitment at the leadership level.  

At Genesys, we have that. Our global leadership discusses sustainability just like every other business imperative. It’s not a temporary or short-term effort; it’s a vital part of the Genesys DNA.  

Not all leaders are as responsive, and that requires that you take responsibility and accountability for your role in this journey. How can you, within your function, help move the needle toward your corporate sustainability goals? How can you drive impact that helps change the world? Each of us has an important role to play. 

Many companies do what’s required by regulations or compliance. Sometimes those actions are meant only to indicate to employees, customers and others who might be paying attention that they’re doing something.   

But momentum develops from a clear vision of what you want to achieve — and why. And having specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals only strengthens your momentum. We are extremely intentional: Sustainability for Genesys is the culmination of all things that have to do with delivering empathy for societal good.  

Why Sustainability Is Important for Driving Business Outcomes   

We’ve documented the revenue from deals we’ve won because of demonstrated sustainability. But the impact of sustainability on business outcomes goes beyond deals won – it also includes efficiencies. 

Businesses gain when they reduce costs through energy efficiency in building structures as well. For example, Genesys has green buildings in Menlo Park, Budapest and Galway that are all LEED-certified. They’re running in the most efficient way possible, which also reduces our impact. 

Another way sustainability drives better outcomes is through suppliers. We reduce risk and amplify good business practices through supplier diversity and sustainable procurement that matches our values, core principles and operational practices. We want to work with suppliers who are just as committed as we are to upholding various regulations, such as the modern slavery acts or anti-discrimination act.  

Because sustainability in business is all-encompassing, it’s also imperative that our employees fly in formation, demonstrating our efforts. As we accelerate down this path, we’ll have a direct impact not only on revenue and operational costs, but also on retaining our employees.  

Our sustainability strategy ensures we’re responsible corporate stewards, that we reduce our risks, and that we’ve optimised the way we do business for efficiency and effectiveness. And I urge you to take this holistic look at sustainability.   

Proactively Managing Sustainability

New and updated regulations continue to impact the business world, from Europe, the SEC in the United States and at the state level, such as California’s new climate guidelines. These are needed to drive compliance and they’ll inevitably continue. But you don’t need to be reactive every time a new regulation is enacted. 

The best way to accelerate sustainability is by proactively addressing it. The more work you do toward this, the more prepared you’ll be for what’s next. You won’t have to scramble in a disruptive way to respond to any new regulations. At that point, you’re putting into action what you understand as material to your business. 

First, we must manage and take responsibility for the actual and potential adverse impact of our decisions on people, society and the environment.  

Second, we should understand the financial impact of all those material issues that we’ve deemed to have an impact on our business. 

It’s no longer just the right thing to do; it’s demonstrates measurable progress of what you have done and what you have determined. 

Your sustainability team might have important goals and ambitions that they’re driving, but if those goals aren’t operationalised, no one within the organisation would be required to have a KPI associated with it. And that makes a difference.   

When sustainability is part of your strategic business plans, you can push back if a team isn’t aligning their KPIs to one of your business priorities, such as climate change, diversity and mitigating risk to the enterprise. 

Sustainability Is Dynamic 

Most businesses want to do what’s best for society and play a role in sustainability. But there’s still a belief that you cannot achieve sustainability without negatively impacting profitability. The reality is, sustainability drives business optimisation, enhances employee retention and attraction and reduces corporate risk. Plainly said… You can have a demonstrable commitment to all three — you don’t have to choose. 

The acceleration of sustainability at Genesys continues because we believe we can always do better, as in any other part of our business. It’s an extension of who we are and how we operate. With the right focus and internal support, you can achieve similar results for many more Earth Days to come.

What steps does your business take toward sustainability? Share your thoughts.

To learn more about sustainability at Genesys, read our 2022 Sustainability Report