Stratsys has always been interested in sustainability, and we have previously made a few sporadic efforts. When I came back to Stratsys after a long leave, I was given the overall responsibility to build a foundation for our sustainability work. But the question was: Where should I start, and what should I prioritize? Sustainability work is a very broad field, and I felt like there was a risk I would navigate wrong in the beginning.
Getting started with the sustainability work
There were three safe points that I could lean on which facilitated getting started. The first was that I had the confidence of the management, the second was the 1-1-1 program, which is a cornerstone for our sustainability work (I have written about this here) and the third was an employee survey that I sent out to find out the employees attitude towards sustainability work. With that foundation, it was time to start building!
I began to sketch on the foundation of our sustainability work and tried to find a red thread in the community engagement that we have and want to develop. Everything from supporting several non-profit organizations to networking lunches, mentoring programs, our collaboration with Jobbentrén and our diversity policy.
High interest in mentoring programs
In recent years, Stratsys has had a strong engagement with social issues, especially when it comes to immigrants who newly arrived in Sweden. In the survey, many employees expressed a desire to become more involved in social issues in the long term - and mentoring programs were at the top of the list of interests. So the first track was to scout the market for organizations that worked with mentorship, and here I had a lot of benefit from the contact network that was built up during one of my heart projects, Tillsammans Cup.
Two of the organizations we started talking too early on were Right to Play and Nema problema. It was also these two that we started pilot programs with later in the spring, but before we chose them we also met many other organizations. There are really so many sharp organizations and people out there, you wish you could work with everyone!
It was these two organizations that we felt extremely good about and we were able to create two customized mentoring programs, with slightly different design and orientation. The Nema problema program has been running for a month back and it is already a wonderful team feeling in the group of mentors and mentees. We have already come up with both group activities, lunches and coffees!
The program Right to play had the goal that 100% of the mentees would get summer jobs after 3 months, and we succeeded already a month before closing. That's what I call results! So, the closing party was extra festive!
Our biggest climate villain turned out to be ...
The other part is the environment and we had not been as active there before. There, the first priority was to identify what our biggest climate villain was. Not so difficult - traveling of course! We have customers all over Sweden and traditionally we have traveled to our customers for the meetings and projects we carry out. Not so good for the environment, but also not very good for the efficiency, the work environment, or for that matter the economy.
So, traveling became the first thing to do something about. The answer was also not that difficult to find - at least not in the short term - it was to switch to more web meetings. But in order to get people to go from their safe physical meetings on-site with the customer to web meetings, it is necessary that the technology works and that the meeting becomes at least as good, or at least as similar as if it was face to face. A challenge to say the least, because behaviors do not change overnight.
With a previous study on web meetings and some comparisons of technical solutions, it still went relatively quick to get the conditions in place (I have written more about web meetings here). With a web meeting contest, we managed to increase the proportion of meetings on the web. After 6 weeks of competing, together we had conducted no less than 450 web meetings and thanks to that we saved a total of 9378 kg CO2! Wow! It shows that if we only decide we can get the ball rolling, we can start to change ourselves and our behaviors.
The journey towards becoming climate neutral has started
Just when we’ve got started on climate issues, Breakit´s Impact Challenge dropped down as the best of presents. For five weeks, many companies would take on the challenge of becoming climate-smart and, in the long run, also climate neutral. Of course, Stratsys would be in it! During these five weeks, we would do a review of our travels (Perfect, we were already on the go!), our offices, conferences, our supply chain, business model and how we can climate compensate what we cannot change ourselves.
Five weeks marinated in climate issues - what a commitment and what a progress we got with our sustainability work thanks to this initiative. We are far from the finish line, but we have nevertheless come a good way from the starting line and we are proud of that.
The light version of the analysis that was done last year has now been upgraded and several interest groups have been asked to respond to a more advanced analysis to support the strategic direction of the sustainability work going forward.
We started with the management team and managers, then employees, on to partners and now customers. It is truly a wonderful time to be a sustainability manager right now, as the issues are given high priority from all directions. It provides both energy and creates even better opportunities to implement really good things that take us in the right direction going forward.
But first summer vacation, in order to boost up with energy for a fast-paced autumn that takes us to the next level! Have a fantastic and sustainable summer!