Sustainability isn’t limited to the impact of global warming on our planet. Recent health, economic and social crises have all served to raise people’s awareness and expectations about the role of business in solving global problems for the long term. In fact, shaping the sustainable organization has become a powerful game changer.

trees with heart shape to sky

Similar to the digital revolution—where we embedded digital technology into all our products and services, as well as creating new and distinctive offerings—we’re now working to embed environmental, social and governance (ESG) capabilities into our core business and how we work with clients.

As Senior Managing Director for Geographic Services and Business Operations at Accenture, sustainability improvements are within my remit. My teams are responsible for executing environmental operations that help our organization meet its sustainability commitments. Whether powering our offices, traveling to our clients or working with our suppliers, Geographic Services is at the heart of how Accenture operates—and focused on addressing climate change through our actions. We have an opportunity to change the business of business by putting sustainability front and center of our innovation efforts.

Our research shows that 73% of executives see becoming a “truly sustainable and responsible business” as a top priority in the next three years. That will be welcomed by their employees and customers—74% of consumers said that ethical corporate practices and values are an important reason to choose a brand.

Since 2007, we’ve been innovating our approach to environmental sustainability and making the necessary strategic investments and carbon disclosure and certifications—reporting our environmental performance to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) annually, including our environmental risks, opportunities and methodologies.

We’ve committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2025. Each action we take brings us closer to that goal and a more sustainable future. To deliver on our commitments and reduce our carbon footprint, we’re focusing first on actual reductions across our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. This means we’re not only reducing our own carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, but also encouraging our suppliers to reduce their emissions as well.

In addition to our net-zero goal, planning for water risk and moving to zero waste are also key priorities for 2025. Our journey to zero waste includes reusing or recycling 100% of our e-waste, such as computers, as well as our office furniture by 2025. Post-pandemic, we are committed to eliminating single-use plastics in the majority of our offices.

Even though we are not a water-intensive company, we are planning for water risk, measuring and reducing water use where we can. We’re developing plans to reduce the impact of flooding, drought and water scarcity on our business and our people in high-risk areas.

Actions for the long game

We are scaling solutions to make lasting change. Even after significant reductions, there will be some emissions that remain. So, in addition to our reduction efforts, we’re investing in nature-based carbon removal projects around the globe that address those remaining emissions to get us to net-zero and keep us there.

Our projects broadly align with our geographic footprint and aim to reforest land, rebuild biodiversity, make agriculture more sustainable, help create green jobs and enable natural ecosystems to rebound and thrive—all while removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Over the next 20 years, this program is expected to physically remove more than 13 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

Here’s how Geographic Services supports our sustainability journey:

  • We run our buildings more efficiently: We have committed to power our offices with 100% renewable electricity by 2023. In addition, recent building refurbishments in New York, Milan, Italy and Madrid, Spain are carrying high levels of recognized certifications for energy, efficiency and insulation.
  • We changed our approach to travel: We’re making climate-smart travel decisions with a process that’s more transparent—bookings calculate a flight’s carbon footprint as well as cost. We signed the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow sustainable aviation fuel pledge, committing to power global aviation with 10% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)—purchased from socially and ethically beneficial sources—by 2030.
  • We created a sustainable procurement hub: Our new hub supports our efforts to engage our suppliers. We require key suppliers to disclose their targets and actions that are being taken to reduce emissions.

I know our clients care about our emissions and environmental, social and governance targets and I believe our continued innovations in this space will help us better serve those clients, our global Accenture team and the world we share.

To learn more, visit our newly launched 360° Value Reporting Experience. You can see our company’s reporting and data all in one place, as well as highlights of our goals, progress and performance across financial and ESG measures—including our United Nations Global Compact Communication on Progress.

Margaret Smith

Senior Managing Director and Executive Director – Corporate Services & Sustainability and Business Operations

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