First of all I have to tell you something. This is the very first blog article I have written. I wanted to know how to write it correctly, I researched the web for all sorts of sites and came up with the following quote on numerous occasions: “You don’t become a blogger overnight” and “It takes years to to write good articles and master this craft”.
When I read these statements, I immediately thought of the beginnings of sustainability at QualityMinds. It did not become part of the company’s DNA overnight either. Establishing it takes time. But it’s not difficult. You need people who believe in a good cause as well as supporters within the company. But how do you get these?
A few years ago, I volunteered for an initiative dedicated to protecting the rainforest. My job there was to test software which uses artificial intelligence to detect illegal deforestation and reports it to the responsible authorities. QualityMinds found this commitment so good that they supported me and I was allowed to get involved in this project as a software tester within my regular working hours.
But what neither QualityMinds nor I realized at the time:
- Through this cooperation we laid the foundation for sustainability;
- In doing so, we practiced true CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
CSR means giving a part of your business success back to the society. However, this should not simply happen through donations (corporate giving), as some companies understand it, but through activities connected to own core business. In our case it is software testing.
Since the topic of sustainability is becoming more and more important, we at QualityMinds have also examined it and made it one of our strategic company goals. By setting up a separate CSR team, all three pillars of sustainability are to be taken into consideration and considered as a whole: ecological, economic and social.
What is crucial to implementing sustainability in a company: all employees have to be on board with it. During a workshop we organized in 2019, we sat together with all employees for a whole day to get a common understanding of this important topic. The ideas of the colleagues were collected, clustered and an initial set of measures was put together. Why was this done? Only through a common understanding of the matter and collecting ideas together can you get the support you need for implementation. Some colleagues actively approached us after the workshop and wanted to help with putting things in motion. Now they are part of the CSR team.
We started with small steps. The so-called “QUICK WINS” could be introduced swiftly and they included:
- Office coffee for all colleagues should be only obtained from fair trade
- Water dispensers instead of glass or plastic bottles
- Switched to “green” electricity in the offices
- Volunteer work by employees promoted through “volunteer days”
- Body coaching provided by a physiotherapist.
With these immediate measures alone, we were able to contribute to all three pillars of sustainability.
For the year 2020, we have set ourselves somewhat larger goals. We were already able to introduce some of them, such as publishing a regular, bi-weekly internal blog on sustainability. In addition, the first internal clothing swap party took place (the leftover clothing is donated to charity centres) and we issued a health challenge in which colleagues were motivated to exercise more in everyday life with a weekly task over a period of several weeks. Thie latter challenge was expanded at the beginning of the Corona crisis: during the Stay Fit Challenge, colleagues were asked to exercise and count every sports unit. For every sports session, QualityMinds has raised money for a hospice that needed donations more than ever during this difficult time.
Social sustainability is currently our strongest pillar, but we are working on the others as well. For example, we are in the process of determining the company’s ecological footprint.
In this article, I have shown you the different faces of sustainability anddemonstrated that starting to act sustainably is not difficult. However, in my experience, in order for sustainability to be anchored in the company, a few points must be set:
- Sustainable changes must be desired and should not present an obligation
- Try to find allies, because together we are stronger
- Get all colleagues on board and create a common understanding
- Start with small, quick changes, so-called QuickWins
- Be present and visible in the company with the topic
- Show staying power: some implementations just need time.
I realize now that it wasn’t that difficult to start writing the blog. Getting started, choosing an appropriate headline, and trying not to lose readers after a short time were the hardest parts for me. It’s the same with sustainability. If you reach the people who work with you to implement sustainability, it can also be anchored in your company. Just give it a try and start NOW!