Apr 22, 2021

Salesforce new cloud enables supply chain sustainability

Kate Birch
3 min
Salesforce Sustainability Cloud helps firms track supply chains and carbon footprint data to engage with suppliers in aligning on sustainability efforts
Salesforce Sustainability Cloud helps firms track supply chains and carbon footprint data to engage with suppliers in aligning on sustainability efforts...

With its own sustainability commitment that pledges to ensure that 250 of is top suppliers will set their own Science Based Targets by 2024, Salesforce has just made it simpler for all companies to follow suit with the launch of its Sustainability Cloud Scope 3 Hub.

Designed to help organisations streamline how they track their supply chain carbon footprint data, this new innovation means companies can now undertake their supply chain carbon accounting in less than a day, rather than the complicated multi-month process it was previously. 

With Sustainability Cloud, Salesforce has put transformational digital tools in the hands of companies in order to give them a “360 view of their carbon footprint so they can take meaningful action across their supply chain and reach net zero, faster”, says Patrick Flynn, VP of Sustainability, Salesforce. 

Pressure on to deliver results

With a net zero transition increasingly important to governments, investors and businesses, and as consumers demand more sustainable practices from the brands they buy into, organisations need to look more closely at their supply chain to deliver results.

“Companies must take action immediately to change the way they do business, including collaborating more deeply with suppliers for climate action,” says Flynn. 

And if an organisation wants to deliver an impactful climate strategy, then all emissions need to be considered and accounted for in their carbon emissions portfolio, and to get the strategy right, the data needs to be clear and reliable. 

With Sustainability Cloud, scope 3 emissions are captured and visualised within the same platform that currently calculates scope 1 and 2 emissions, and so offers customers a single source of reliable emissions data. 

And according to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, any tools that “continue to advance the quality and comparability of corporate climate data and allow companies to make more informed decisions”, is very welcome. 

So what functionality does Sustainability Cloud Scope 3 offer?

  • Comes with a commonly used emission factors dataset from the US Environmental Protection Agency, while aloowing firms to bring their emission factors dataset.
  • Fast and simple to track – companies need to simply enter procurement or spending data and the system provides a simple process of matching spending categories to spend-based emission factors and to scope 3 categories. The results can be rolled up and summarised by spend type and by vendor. 
  • As well as capturing scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, it can track historical and real-time environmental, social and governance data in the same platform, for a 360 view of investor-grade data. 

Salesforce practices what it preaches

And Salesforce are putting this into practice themselves as part of their own 1.5 degree Science Based Target. Working with 250 of their own top suppliers (60% of their scope 3 emissions) to set Science-Based Targets of their own by 2024, Salesforce has confirmed that as of 2020, they are nearly halfway to their goal. 

Among such suppliers is Herman Miller, which through the Salesforce Health and Sustainable Materials initiative has “been able to amplify our sustainability efforts beyond our walls and help pave the way for our own suppliers to do the same”, says Gabe Wing, Director of Sustainability at Herman Miller. 

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Jun 4, 2021

Charting the rise of the chief sustainability officer

Kate Birch
4 min
Fortune 500 companies hired more chief sustainability officers in 2020 than in the previous three years combined. Business Chief charts the rise of the CSO

There has been a dramatic increase in the hiring of the chief sustainability officer (CSO) role among Fortune 500 companies, with demand for CSOs growing 228% in corporate America over the last decade, according to the latest report from CSO recruitment firm the Weinreb Group.

There were more first-time CSOs recruited by Fortune 500 companies in 2020 than the previous three years combined, with numbers of CSOs in corporate America soaring from just 29 in 2011 to 95 today, demonstrating the importance corporations are placing not just on reducing their environmental impacts, but also in supporting issues of social justice.

Businesses are increasingly under pressure to assume more responsible practices with customers, regulators and investors demanding increased transparency of business ESG performance.

And the past year in particular has been seen great upheaval, with increased new attention brought to “social justice, climate change, and an ever-widening political divide”, according to Ellen Weinreb, founder and CEO of the Weinreb Group, which has tracked the rising role of CSOs over the past decade.

CSO role is expanding and shifting

But it’s not just the number of CSOs that have changed, sustainability teams are getting bigger, with the average team size increasing from five professionals in 2011 to 15 today, according to the report. 

This is in part due to the fact that the CSO role has expanded beyond simply ‘sustainability’ to incorporate social justice too. Sustainability isn’t exclusively about the environment anymore. The role has also come to incorporate social justice, especially with the rapid growth of, and increased attention on, environmental, social, and governance, or ESG.

And many roles recently have been renamed as such with Head of ESG or ESG Officer becoming increasingly prominent.

Women make up over half of CSO roles

What's also changed over the last decade is the percentage of women holding the title of Chief Sustainability Officer.

A decade ago, in 2011, the majority of CSO roles were held by men (72%), with just 10 of the 29 then CSO roles held by women. A decade on, in 2021, the percentage of women in CSO roles has almost doubled, now accounting for more than half (54%) of CSO positions.

However, according to the report ‘The Chief Sustainability Officer 10 Years Later’, despite the movement toward gender balance within the role and its expanded focus on social justice, in particular, in 2021 the CSO position remains overwhelmingly ‘white’.

Probably not surprising considering there are just three black CEOs at Fortune 500 firms.

How the chief sustainability officer role has grown

The first-ever named chief sustainability officer in a US publicly traded company was Linda Fisher for Dupont, who joined the chemical giant in 2004 as CSO, just at the time when innovative companies were looking at sustainability as a driver for business growth. Joining from the Environmental Protection Agency where she spent 13 years, Fisher was a corporate sustainability trailblazer, spending more than a decade as CSO here, and leading DuPont’s efforts to establish its first set of market-facing sustainability goals.

By 2006, a slew of firms had joined the CSO movement, including Mastercard, Nissan and Microsoft; and Kellogg’s became the first firm to replace a CSO with Dianne Holdorf taking over from Celeste Clarke. And by 2011, a decade ago, Coca-Cola, Verizon, AT&T and P&G had appointed their first CSOs.

In fact, it was in 2011 when Virginie Helias invented her idea of the perfect CSO job – to make sustainable consumption not only possible, but ‘irresistible’ – and pitched it P&G’s then CEO. A decade later, in 2021, and Helias is still in the job she first created.

The majority of CSOs have been internal hires, such as Peter Graf of SAP, who joined the software giant in 1996, and served as EVP for Marketing before being named CSO in 2009. The same is true at UPS, whose first-ever CSO, Scott Wicker, started at the package delivery giant 34 years before being named CSO in 2011. Increasingly, however, external hires are being made with organisations increasingly searching for more high-profile leading voices in the ESG forum.

In February 2021, JP Morgan hired former British high-profile Labour politician Chuka Umunna while just last month hotel chain Accor hired high-profile French politician Brune Poirson, who has previously championed the anti-waste law within the French government and was secretary of state for the environmental transition for three years.  


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