Salesforce has always tried to be a socially responsible company, encouraging employees to work in the community, giving 1% of its profits to different causes and building and productizing the 1-1-1 philanthropic model. The company now wants to help other organizations be more sustainable to reduce their carbon footprint, and today it announced it is working on a product to help.
Patrick Flynn, VP of sustainability at Salesforce, says that it sees sustainability as a key issue, and one that requires action right now. The question was how Salesforce could help. As a highly successful software company, it decided to put that particular set of skills to work on the problem.
“We’ve been thinking about how can Salesforce really take action in the face of climate change. Climate change is the biggest, most important and most complex challenge humans have ever faced, and we know right now, every individual, every company needs to step forward and do everything it can,” Flynn told TechCrunch.
And to that end, the company is developing the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, to help track a company’s sustainability efforts. The tool should look familiar to Salesforce customers, but instead of tracking customers or sales, this tool tracks carbon emissions, renewable energy usage and how well a company is meeting its sustainability goals.
The tool works with internal data and third-party data as needed, and is subject to both an internal audit by the Sustainability team and third-party organizations to be sure that Salesforce (and Sustainability Cloud customers) are meeting their goals.
Salesforce has been using this product internally to measure its own sustainability efforts, which Flynn leads. “We use the product to measure our footprint across all sorts of different aspects of our operations from data centers, public cloud, real estate — and we work with third-party providers everywhere we can to have them make their operations cleaner, and more powered by renewable energy and less carbon intensive,” he said. When there is carbon generated, the company uses carbon offsets to finance sustainability projects such as clean cookstoves or helping preserve the Amazon rainforest.
Flynn says increasingly the investor community is looking for proof that companies are building a real, verifiable sustainability program, and the Sustainability Cloud, is an effort to provide that information both for Salesforce and for other companies who are in a similar position.
The product is in Beta now and is expected to be ready next year. Flynn could not say how much they plan to charge for this service yet, but he said the goal of the product is positive social impact.
By Ron Miller