CSR has become an integral element of business priorities. It has been accelerated by the growing public awareness of the importance of social responsibility. According to research by Pracuj.pl, 58% of Poles perceive involvement in CSR projects as one of the key factors of their present or future employers’ choices. Sustainable development activities play an increasingly important role in these decisions. It`s clearly visible in the younger generations of employees. A 2019 Deloitte survey about the Millennial workforce confirms that climate change and environmental protection topics sit at the top of their concerns, which they would like to be able to address together with their employers.
Globally, Shell is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and supports these ambitions through the firm’s policies and operating practices. Shell’s ambition is to provide more and cleaner energy solutions in a responsible way, contributing to communities where it operates. Shell Business Operations Krakow’s sustainability approach is an example of how the company’s ambition is being materialised throughout structured activities and education which engages staff`s hearts and minds.
Building a sustainable community
Shell Business Operations (SBO) Krakow constitutes of more than 4,200 business professionals. As one of the largest employers in Krakow, SBO is committed to support the sustainable development of the city. In 2018 SBO Kraków developed a holistic plan to reduce CO2 emissions and waste generated by the office. An ambitious goal will be achieved through reduction of energy consumption and transition to green energy sources, zero waste and decrease in water usage. The efforts are anchored in three pillars: environment, safety, and community. They are fuelled by education and engagement of the employees who play a central role in delivering the outcomes and making a difference in the broader social context.
The results are visible. Only in 2019, SBO Krakow reduced the energy consumption and the amount of generated waste by over 20% compared to the previous year. In 2020 the efforts are on the right path to cut waste by another 15% and CO2 emissions by 10%. On top of that, over 80% of electricity used in SBO Krakow campus this year is purchased from renewable sources.
Achieving these results was driven by optimisation of the office infrastructure (lighting, electronic equipment, air conditioning, canteen operations), as well as internal programmes and campaigns activating the SBO population to contribute to the cause. For example, the '3R Lifestyle' programme built on principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle resulted in such wins last year as a 30% cut in paper consumption in the office and a 70% reduction of use of paper cups.
In order to keep SBO Krakow employees interested in sustainability, reinforce green behaviours and activate participation, large-scale internal events are organised each year, hosted by the Think4Tomorrow employee network. These are held under the umbrella themes of Circularity Days and Sustainability Days.
In 2019, during the Shell Eco-Marathon Day in SBO Krakow, future technology met vision and inspiration, welcoming students from Polish universities who took part in the international contest organized by Shell, promoting innovative solutions for the future transport. “As a large employer in the region, we maintain a dialogue with the authorities of the City of Krakow looking at ways to support a healthy environment for its citizens. It is in our common interest, as people are our single biggest asset and we care for their well-being. I want to believe that our sustainability commitments give our employees another reason to be part of the SBO Krakow community, increase their motivation to work, connect them with the bigger purpose and keep together, even during the most extraordinary times we are facing these days,” says Agnieszka Pocztowska, general manager in Shell Business Operations Krakow.
New reality - but some things don`t change
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped SBO Krakow on its way towards achieving its ambitious plans. The organisation continues to explore new ways of supporting the delivery of the sustainability goals, adapting the lessons and experiences from working in a virtualised environment.
In the first weeks of the pandemic and the related lockdown, the One Week Level Up initiative was introduced within SBO internal communication forum, encouraging employees to stay in touch and exchange experience in a vast spectrum of topics, including sustainability, resilience care and health. During the 2020 virtual Circularity Days – organised at the end of September – the company engaged employees on a broad range of sustainability themes via a series of webinars, on-line challenges, upcycling competition, quizzes, virtual planting and do-it-yourself movies, supported by gamification techniques.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SBO Krakow is currently a virtual community, but this fact is not changing our goals and ambitions and so we stick to the plan. We are professionals, but at the same time we are residents of our city and it is in our common interest to act sustainably towards the environment. Even the smallest ecological activity which we undertake in our homes contributes to a healthier ecosystem and is just as important as actions carried out in the office. And, maybe some of the new ‘home habits’ we develop on this occasion, will stay with us for longer, and that would be a positive side effect of this year`s turbulent experience,” says Agnieszka Pocztowska.
According to research by Pracuj.pl, half of Poles (51%) strongly believe that CSR activities are undertaken by companies that honestly care for their employees. There is no doubt that sustainability sits at the core of a socially responsible business – especially in the face of current environmental challenges. Companies and their employees can and should play an active role in this collective effort.
Companies will realise that while putting efforts towards sustainability and climate protection and involving their employees, they will build a dedicated and engaged community able to strive even during the biggest challenges, unified around the company’s values and its guiding purpose.