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Salesforce on what it means to provide a clean cloud to customers

Patrick Flynn, director of sustainability at Salesforce

When Patrick Flynn, director of sustainability at Salesforce is asked what he is most proud of, he doesn’t hesitate: “Our goal in bringing 100% renewable electricity to all our global operations. We signed two wind deals last year and [we’ve set an example by] not directly consuming energy ourselves…”

Salesforce’s technology platform allows businesses to run their business apps in the cloud. And despite confusion within the industry about what the ‘cloud’ actually is, from an environmental perspective, it’s only good news for Salesforce. Its customers can save as much as “2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year”, says Flynn.

But he admits there is still progress to be made: “We need to look at how we will achieve [our 100% renewable energy goal] and ways to bring the most environmental benefit possible while also creating a blueprint for other customers and companies to follow.”

Senior department heads driving sustainability

In September Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, in an act to “improve the world”, announced the creation of a chief equality officer role to fight inequality in the workplace. Flynn says the appointment of key figureheads from different departments is helping to embed sustainability across the company.

“We've done a few different things. We appointed Suzanne DiBianca [to lead our corporate philanthropy]. We’ve also created a sustainability review board which includes very instrumental leaders throughout our different business areas. The CFO, head of procurement, head of marketing [and so on]. This has allowed us to embed sustainability leadership throughout the company.”

The marketing perspective

The Drum teamed up with global B2B marketing agency gyro to survey over 200 marketers on their attitudes towards sustainability within business-to-business (B2B) brands. It found the c-suite as the main organisational driver of sustainability, followed by marketing.

“I think sustainability is a tremendous opportunity for CMOs and senior marketing people to have a much bigger say in innovating company operations,” says Patrick O’Hara, global chief strategy officer at gyro. “When management takes the issue seriously, it becomes more open to new ideas about work practices and how a company should be run.”

For Flynn, Salesforce’s strong leadership is cherished by the workforce: “It has allowed us to really drive amazing progress. We have an Earthforce team in every major office, so it's created a culture of wanting to do the right thing.”

The full report, “The Drum Market Insight Report: Sustainability in B2B Marketing,” will be available to download soon. The winner of ‘Sustainable B2B Brand of the Year’, Vodafone, was announced at The Marketing Can Change the World Awards, part of Do It Day, on Thursday, 10 November 2016.