In the latest in the ‘Sustainability in GM’ series of discussion groups facilitated by Vialto Partners we focused on the resurgence of business travel and also heard about the steps that relocation providers are taking to reduce the carbon footprint of international assignments.
Business travel is currently increasing rapidly, but there is uncertainty as to whether this is a temporary surge following a long period of travel restrictions which will gradually return to previous levels or even reduce. Clearly, many companies are questioning whether some business activities can now be conducted as effectively virtually and in addition to the environmental benefits this can also be potentially cost effective. Cost reduction is still a strong focus for many organisations.
Some companies are starting to consider the broader ESG picture and whether high levels of business travel are desirable from not only an environmental perspective, but in response to other considerations such as employee well-being. While the changing expectations of employees may also contribute to a reduction in business travel, other employee benefits such as co-working spaces nearer to home and greener travel options are key.
We also heard from Vialto Partners in the Netherlands and Germany about regulatory measures being introduced, such as the new requirement to report on business travel in the Netherlands. This has contributed to concerns about ESG rising up Board agendas resulting in new policies, targets and expectations encompassing subjects such as DE&I and Pay Equity. The ability to access data has played in key part in providing information to facilitate these changes and the use of data for reporting and determining policy is expected to continue to grow. However, while stricter regulations have enforced change there is a desire to drive real change by motivating individuals towards seeking and adopting greener work practices rather than through prohibition.
Attendees at the meeting reported that the majority of their companies are starting to consider how vendors can support a reduction in their GM carbon footprint, particularly as part of the RFP/contract process. However, it is still early days and by working more closely with providers and sharing ideas and expertise greater progress could be made. Suzie Provan explained some of the measures relocation provider Santa Fe are adopting to reduce the carbon footprint of global moves. Practical steps include limiting the impact of transport, removing plastic from packing materials, operating virtual property surveys, green housing options and carbon offsetting measures. Such provisions are not universally available, but to ensure they maximise their impact as a company they are also working at a more strategic level. To achieve this Santa Fe are part of the UN Global Compact and have a senior member of the team responsible for ESG.
Whether considering greener policies or working with providers Global Mobility has a visible and significant role to play!