Earlier this year, everyone at Meltwater got the same email in their inbox.
The email promoted a new post on mLife, our internal blog, announcing the company was in the process of establishing a Global Green Council.
This invitation to join the company’s new environmental policy group caught my attention. I thought, Hey, I’m passionate about this. If I can do something to make Meltwater a better custodian for the planet, then I definitely should.
Admittedly, it was something I've never thought about doing for the company because it's far removed from my role as the Director of Content Partnerships at Meltwater EMEA. But that same day, I recorded the application video explaining why I’m passionate about the environment and how I think I could add value to the Council.
A few weeks after I submitted my application video, our CEO John Box invited me to co-head the Council with Pooja Farkade, Vice President of Information Technologies for Meltwater Americas.
Hear Pooja's advice for women in leadership roles in our blog from International Women’s Day 2022.
I’ve always been passionate about the environment, but my relocation from Amsterdam to South Africa with Meltwater in 2018 opened my eyes anew to the everyday impacts of climate change. When I first arrived, we were in the midst of a massive drought and were ticking down to “Day Zero”, the day when Cape Town wouldn’t have any more water out of the taps. Luckily it started raining just in time, the rain, however, did not wash away the water crisis. Being constantly confronted with the impact of climate change — as we all are in different ways — is a daily reminder that makes me extra conscious.
In general, I think that it is everybody's responsibility to act to combat climate change. A few years ago, when my missus and I bought a house here in Cape Town — a run-down old place — we tried to do our part by redoing it completely to be as off-grid and self-sustaining as possible. We insulated the entire house and have a big battery pack hooked up to solar panels and a solar-heated geyser. This means that we consume very little energy from the grid. And when we get load shedding, South African power outages, which is a common occurrence, the lights stay on.
Responsibility to the environment looks different for every individual, but companies have an even greater responsibility and can have a greater impact. In my eyes, companies are responsible for the environmental impact of their entire value chain. Put simply, companies should be responsible for all of the effects they have on the environment, from how they source their raw materials all the way to how their product is ultimately disposed of or recycled.
Starting the Global Green Council
The Global Green Council started meeting just before the summer period, so we're very much still in the ideation phase. But everybody on the Council's excited to start doing rather than iterating.
We started off figuring out who we are and what Meltwater’s current environmental impact is, as well as looking at what other companies are doing right now. In the end, we’ve come up with a framework that looks at long-term and short-term goals and internal and external focuses. To guide our actions and solidify our purpose, we’ve come up with a vision and mission for the Council.
As an example for Meltwater, our most apparent environmental impact is the energy consumption of the servers we need to run our product. A lot of that energy is produced by sources that aren't always great for the environment. Partnering with environmental as well as technological leaders in the data storage field is, therefore, one of the focusses of the Global Green Council.
I think the people on the Council feel passionate about creating environmental strategies that are impactful, tangible, and measurable. There is a lot of window dressing in this field, which we want to avoid by being transparent and honest about the steps we take and humble about the impact we have.
Ultimately, I hope that we are able to accelerate Meltwater’s sustainability efforts.
Company Culture and Values
The most inspiring thing about being on the Council so far has been working with people from across Meltwater's diverse universe. There is enthusiasm and passion for this topic wherever you look in the company, across the world, and in different departments. I'm also learning something completely new, outside of the expertise that I've been building over the last seven years. For me, coming up with an environmental sustainability strategy for a SaaS company, truly contributing to our general ESG, is really exciting.
It is important to everybody on the Council that the entire company feels included in this project. That's why we recently launched a survey to get everybody’s opinion at Meltwater, and we got a great response. Many people at the company are passionate about what we're doing. Our colleagues gave us great input on topics they would like to see addressed.
Having the Council now, and knowing through the survey that our employees care about these issues, I think there could be a cultural shift at Meltwater without having to change our values: moro (fun), enere (number one), and respekt (respect). In my eyes, having respect for the environment, and striving to be number one as far as mitigating our environmental impact as well as having fun whilst we do it fits the mold perfectly.
Staying within Meltwater values while shifting the conversation towards how we as a company think about the environment — that’s what the Green Global Council is working toward. Looking forward, if people consider the environment more in their business and personal decisions because of the culture that we instill at Meltwater, I think we will have been successful.