Canva has signed a sustainability pledge to achieve zero net emissions

  • Canva has pledged to be the first Australian company to sign a sustainability pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • The company’s investment in ethical and sustainable initiatives is indicative of a wider trend to use corporate culture as a recruitment strategy.
  • “It is our responsibility to run the business in a way our customers agree with,” Cameron Adams, Canva co-founder and product manager, told Business Insider Australia.
  • Visit the Business Insider Australia homepage for more stories.

Canva cultivates a beehive on the roof of their Sydney office.

The company says it uses honey in its office kitchen, but bees also pollinate a radius of up to 1.5 km around its offices, carrying the impact far beyond a single Housing agglomeration.

But bees are more than an office perk or new activity for those looking for an excuse to look away from their computer screen.

Increasingly, social justice, ethical practices and sustainability commitments are becoming a central part of the strategy used by technology and other companies to attract talent.

The Australian tech unicorn has announced that it has pledged to be the first Australian company to sign The Climate Pledge; an initiative co-founded by Amazon, Canva’s web services partner.

The pledge is a global commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 that Amazon says will allow participants to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years earlier.

Canva said the commitment will keep it with public commitments to “measure and report on greenhouse gas emissions as well as continue to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris agreement through changes. commercial and innovation “.

A mission statement that goes beyond profit

In a blog post announcing the commitment, Cameron Adams, Canva’s co-founder and chief product officer, said joining The Climate Pledge is part of a larger sustainability project for the company.

“It’s also deeply aligned with one of our core values ​​as a company – to be ‘a force for good’,” Adams said.

Adams told Business Insider Australia the ambitious nature of the climate commitment aligned with the company’s values ​​around setting “lofty goals” that pushed it to learn, to adapt, to change strategy. and “keep this goal in mind as you move towards this vision.”

It’s a statement in line with the approach of startups and companies looking to attract Generation Y and Generation Z employees who are increasingly looking to work in companies that share their worldview and their skills. values.

Deloitte’s 2021 Millennials and Gen Z Survey found that just under half of Australian Millennials and Gen Zs – 48% and 47% respectively – believe that “businesses” are only focused on their own agendas and have no other ambition than to want to earn money.

It showed that 33% of Millennials and 44% of Gen Z said they made choices about the types of work they would do and the organizations they are willing to work for based on their personal beliefs and ethics. .

And about 33% of both cohorts said climate change was their main concern.

Adams said private companies have a huge expectation that they will go beyond the boxes of companies of the past when engaging in social and ethical campaigns.

“I think it has almost become the responsibility of private companies like ours to take this step, because we have the capacity to do it,” he said.

Sustainability as a competitive advantage

Taking broader and more public action in its sustainability initiatives is part of Canva’s stated drive to innovate in all areas of its business, including corporate culture and ethics, as well as design. product development and business development.

“For us, it’s really not about doing business as usual,” Adams said.

In August, the company announced it was switching to a flexible remote working policy, which means it expects its employees to go to the office only about eight times a year.

“We believe traditional workplaces will become the exception when it comes to the future of work,” the company said of its decision, which saw it join fellow tech unicorn Atlassian to launch a enterprise-wide flexibility that had not yet been seen at scale. scale in Australia.

Adams said that while traditionally companies have focused on shareholder value and profit, “a new wave of companies is passing. [where the company] really reflects the people who work here.

“Here at Canva, we have a lot of people who care deeply about the climate and other issues,” Adams said, “and they want to work in a place that has a positive impact on the issues that matter to them. “

For the company, projects like its new series of sustainable development initiatives reinforce its attractiveness as a workplace.

“It is our responsibility to operate the business in a way our customers agree with,” Adams said.

“Being able to support positive change when it comes to climate change or social issues, through the choices you make as a consumer or as a person interacting with an organization is really powerful. “

Adams added that he was leading onboarding sessions for the company where he said the most common responses he heard about why new hires want to work at the company “because they want to make a positive impact on the world through the work they do every day. “

We can afford to do more ‘

“As the business grows in value and we get more resources, we can afford to do more,” Adams said of the series of sustainability initiatives recently announced by the company. ‘business.

Canva took another step forward with a valuation of US $ 40 billion following a new fundraising in September, potentially making it Australia’s most valuable private company.

Adams said that regardless of the commitment, the company is heading towards environmental milestones, with its Australian operations already achieving carbon neutrality and its global operations on track to reach the same milestone by the end of the year.

It said its global operations and data services – powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) – would also be becoming 100% powered by renewable energy.

Another goal is to become “climate positive” by 2023, which will mean reducing employee emissions by 50% over the next five years.

The company strongly promotes what Adams said is a culture where decisions made by employees, “whether they are an engineer, a designer, a product manager in a marketing team, [they] help Canva not only become more successful, but also a force for good around the world. ”

“And honestly, it’s something that attracts the best and the brightest,” he said.

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