Originally aired on April 23, 2021 @ 2:00 PM - 2:30 PM EDT
Can we make our offices carbon negative and water positive?
Join Cloudflare's Head Of Real Estate and Workplace Operations, Caroline Quick and LinkedIn's Dana Jennings, Senior Project Manager, Global Sustainability for a look into the opportunities and challenges around creating sustainable workplaces.
Hello, good morning or good afternoon. Welcome to Cloudflare TV. Today, it is my great pleasure and joy to bring a conversation about greener places and sustainability in the workplace. And I am joined by Caroline Quick, who is Cloudflare's head of workplace operations and real estate, and Dana Jennings, who is a global project manager on sustainability at LinkedIn. So welcome. Thanks, Amy. Hi, everybody. And Dana, do you want to give us an introduction? Yes. So thanks for having me. My name is Dana Jennings, and I work on the global sustainability team at LinkedIn. I'm very passionate about this topic and excited to be talking with you today. So in my role, I oversee our public commitments to sustainability and making sure we get them done that involves our pledge to become carbon negative, which I know we're going to talk about to achieve zero waste, what we call water positives, and of course, bringing our employees along on this journey. So one tradition we have at LinkedIn is to share something that's not on our LinkedIn profile when we introduce ourselves. So I'll kick us off by letting you know that I have seven pets, one dog, two cats, and four chickens. So my green tip for you at home, if you can, is to get a backyard flock because they give you fresh eggs, they'll eat your food scraps, and they're just fun to have around and feel connected to. So thank you. Awesome. And Caroline, can you give us an introduction, please? Sure. Hi, I'm Caroline Quick. I am, as you mentioned, the head of global real estate and workplace at Cloudflare. I actually joined Cloudflare in August, so I am a pandemic hire, which has been a really interesting and exciting time to join the company, especially in the type of work that we're doing right now and the state of the world. Our focus on sustainability is fairly new, which is very exciting because we have a lot of opportunity to really rethink right now how we're doing things operationally and also how we're building spaces. I have a really unique background to come to where I am today. I used to be really deep in tech. I used to build my own computers. From there, I went on to owning and operating my own modern home furnishing store, if anyone's heard of it, called EQ3, started EQ3 in the Bay Area. And then from there, I joined Twitter as their first head of real estate and workplace. So I have been on an exciting adventure. I went on to consult for a lot of different companies after Twitter, and now here I am at Cloudflare. And some of the work I did was with LinkedIn, so it was very exciting. This weekend, I'm going to be buying chickens, apparently, so something to learn about me. Don't tell my kids. That sounds exciting. I think they're watching. Uh-oh, now I'm going to be held to it. Well, that's amazing. Well, I'm Amy Bebo. I'm an office coordinator in San Francisco, and I have always been passionate about the Earth and the planet and sustainability. And Dana, I'm curious about your journey. How did you become interested in sustainability? Yeah, thanks for asking. So mine goes back to when I was a very young girl and I loved animals, as stereotypical as it sounds. I was very passionate, always reading about the rainforest. It was just something that was in me. I grew up in the Midwest on a cattle farm, so a lot of just roaming around outside, playing outdoors. And that passion was just part of me. I don't want to say I lost it, but I never had an example in my life of someone who did that for a living. And so I didn't even consider pursuing this when I went into college. And I took a different career path. I was an English language teacher around the world, and then moved to California, and it was 2008. And I kind of just started to look around and see, wow, there's people who do this for a job, and there's really cool things. So I began volunteering and decided to actually go back to school and get my master's in corporate environmental management, because I knew I loved business and people and doing the work, not necessarily researching for me. And so I went to the Bren School at UCSB to a wonderful program, and that kind of launched me into the career I have now. So it's a key part of me. It's something I think about every day, and I'm excited to be in this field because it's growing, and it's top of mind for everyone now, as it should be. So it's been a journey, but yeah, I'm happy to be here. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. And Carolyn, what about you? What makes you passionate and interested in sustainability? Has this been like a focus for you on your career journey? Yeah, I mean, it always has been for sure. And I think that, you know, in the work that I've done, it feels like it's been attainable to do, to make small changes that actually make a big impact. And so that has been a big part of it that has been really exciting for me to be able to do something that actually, you know, you can see change or help encourage change out there. And of course, thinking about the future for my kids and future generations and really living through some of the crazy environmental changes and seeing them firsthand. You know, it used to be something where people were like, well, we're not worried about that because it'll never impact us. I remember being a kid and in the 80s, like having to have jugs under our sinks and bathtubs and everything to like collect water because we were in such a major drought during that time. And then it's like, again, seeing us kind of going into that direction, seeing what's happening with ice caps, like just being able to make a change so that our kids are also learning the right way to treat our resources, I think is really important. Yeah. Thank you for sharing. As a person who grew up in Minnesota, you know, where we have plenty of water, you know, like we were still, you know, we would be careful about water, but it wasn't really a thing. But when I came out to California, I definitely noticed like, wow, like this scary, you know, there's such a different level of scarcity of water, like these kind of scary fires. I had never seen that. And for me, I became passionate about sustainability, just, I mean, kind of growing up, like we grew up in a family where, you know, you recycled and you just, we, you know, we didn't have a lot of like money. So we, you know, we were just, we lived kind of close to, you know, just learning not to be wasteful. We didn't use paper towels or, you know, we use cloth diapers, you know, when I was a baby, like, I feel like there was a little bait and switch. Like when I, when I agreed to be born on this planet, there wasn't disposable plastic, you know, like, I feel like when I was like looking down at the earth, I was like, okay, well, at least when I'm just a baby, I'm not going to be responsible for all this, this garbage right now, babies are coming in and they're responsible for all this kind of waste even before they get a chance. And I I'm, I'm hoping we're going to develop different systems. So, you know, LinkedIn has some pretty ambitious goals for sustainability. Do you want to talk a little bit about what those are? I've, I've heard some words, carbon negative, water positive. Can you give a high level view on what that is for our viewers? Yeah, absolutely. And before I jump into that, I wanted to just comment on something that you said about how when you were a baby, there weren't all these plastics. And I think that's something that we all should realize is that this plastic problem and these plastics are new, you know, when our parents were born, they didn't have plastic or they had very little. And so it feels like this huge, overwhelming problem. The ocean's got more plastic than fish, but we created it in literally the last five decades. And so we can quickly fix it if we put all hands on deck. And I learned kind of the long story of plastic in the film, the story of plastic. So if anyone's curious about this, it's really important to see how it is a new problem and we can solve it because it's, it's just a blip in time, really. So anyway, as pertains to LinkedIn, so we have a lot of ambitious goals. We have, we're, our parent company is Microsoft and they're one of the leaders with bold public pledges. And so we're right there with them. It's been very exciting time learning about the pledges, getting buy-in from the LinkedIn team to join them and then figure out what our roadmap is to achieve them. So I think the most ambitious one that is probably most well-known is our carbon negative pledge. And really what that means and why it's unique is that when we measure carbon, traditionally we would look at like scope one, scope two, and maybe a little bit of scope three. So that would cover things like electricity and natural gas for offices and data centers, maybe purchase fuel for company vehicles, but really kind of a small slither. And then we also had traditionally covered employee air travel, that piece. And that piece felt like a lot, but when we joined with Microsoft and made this pledge, we said, this is only a little piece. We need to cover the full scope three. So what that means is that we're also now covering employee commute and all of our purchase goods and services, which for most companies and ourselves included is the bulk of the emissions. So if you thought about it, like for yourself and your house, what that means is instead of just the carbon footprint from your electricity bill and the gasoline in your vehicle, now you're looking at the carbon footprint from your clothes and your food and your furniture and even your house. What part of the house's carbon footprint do you own, the actual construction? So it starts to really expand the scope to be a more accurate portrayal of a company's environmental footprint, honestly. And so it's a new area for us in terms of measurement and setting up a roadmap. And it's really exciting because it brings into the forefront, the partnerships, partnering with our vendors, our suppliers, partnering with customers. And it's really the way to kind of unite everyone together to achieve these carbon goals that the world really needs us to hit. So it's super exciting. Yeah, that seems hard when I hear about it, like to how to measure all that, like it kind of, I'm glad you have the master's degree, right? How do you measure all that? Like, I think that that could be one, it's almost like a potential blocker, you know, for people and companies that want to start thinking about this, it can be overwhelming. So it's good that you, you know, are obviously partnering with other like intelligent humans, you know, who understand how to build that roadmap, you know, because we all kind of have to look to the leaders, right? So well, what is LinkedIn doing, you know, because I know Cloudflare, you know, we're still getting ready this year to, you know, probably make some announcements around, you know, what our pledges are, and we're not quite there yet. But when I hear that, I just get kind of like scared. So yeah, well, that's, since this involves, you know, suppliers, for example, we don't want to overwhelm them, we want participation. And so there's really great organizations like the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP, that has resources. And within LinkedIn, we do training, so we want people to be on board. And it doesn't mean that on day one, you have to disclose your full 123 footprint in your roadmap, like there's incremental steps that companies can take. But yeah, it is, it is, it can feel a little overwhelming. Yeah, it does. And Caroline, what do you think, like, when you think about Cloudflare and the directions we're going, do you have anything to share about, that you can share about, like some of our goals or initiatives that we're doing? Yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, we did announce that we joined the, we signed the UN Global Climate Compact. So that was a really big first step for us to have, you know, and Amy, you were a big part of that too, to really, you know, put it out there and sign this agreement that like, we are committed to taking things in the right direction holistically as a company, which is super exciting. Now, for us on our particular team, the Places team, doing things as simple, like taking, you know, we're starting with the baby steps that are like, you know, seem to be easy to do. Looking at eliminating cans and bottles from our offices, right? So no more of that, that waste. And I, a previous company that I worked for, you know, we, we started this project as well. And it was challenging because we got a lot of pushback from, you know, our team members, employees who didn't want to see their Red Bull go away, or, you know, there's, there was a whole story around a plastic bottled beverage that everyone loved and couldn't live without. And it ended up being something going on, like all team chat, you know? So there are little things like that. And, you know, we've learned a lot since then on how to educate our team members around the impact and the importance of getting their buy-in when making these changes that, that touch every single person. And the good that the buy-in will do for the world, you know, just look at the data around how much trash we have every day, or the recycling or whatever it is. And it's pretty easy to make the case. So we're looking at things like that. We're also looking at when we're talking to suppliers, similar to what Dana said, you know, what kind of verbiage can we start having in our RFPs around, you know, understanding that they are making the right moves towards better sustainability and actually focus on that as a company. When we're looking at construction projects, we're also taking that into consideration. It's been, it's really interesting because we're starting to see the world come back around again, where one of the most sustainable projects, products you can build with right now is wood, where previously we would have had much harder time putting our heads around that because of deforestation and the way that we did it previously. But, you know, wood, if you, if you look at mass timber and mass timber buildings and projects, that's like a really new way to look at how to use wood in large construction projects. You know, wood is very abundant in trees. It's renewable and it's our most natural resource. I was just talking to an architect on my previous call and he was saying that they, he was reading about a project in Seattle that they're actually installing a lumber yard at the location where they're building this project. And it's going to be a whole cycle of renewable product where they're going to, you know, mill the wood and put it directly into this product. So it's kind of interesting. And then, you know, you know, what you might consider like replanting after that or something so you can continue the cycle. I know that LinkedIn and Dana, if you, I don't know if you can talk to this at all, but, you know, the way that you're thinking about using concrete also, concrete used to be one of those products that was, you know, not sustainable at all. And new technology is coming in the way that you create concrete where it's much better and greener to you. So we're looking at all of that, but we're also looking at, as we do projects, the cycle of our furniture. So making sure that we're not just, you know, we used to think of furniture as this, you know, resource that you could just like trash when you're done with it. And like, you know, if you needed to upgrade your space, you just, you know, throw it, you know, it goes away magically somewhere. Right. Now we're really putting thought into like, what is the life cycle of that piece? If we no longer need it, can we either, you know, give it to another company, sell it or give or sell it to another company? Could we actually donate it to an organization that needs it? Or in some cases, send it to countries that might not have the access to resources that we have so that they can use it and give it a new life. So it's great to see that there's a lot of organizations that are starting to focus on that thing to help support companies in this mission. That's awesome. I hear the word kind of buy-in a lot. And, you know, to kind of clarify that, do you think that companies now are starting to get that buy-in from the executive levels because it's the thing that investors are really starting to pay attention to? And Dana, like with when you guys joined with Microsoft, I think 2016, you know, was there just a bigger pool of resources for you? Because it feels like sometimes measuring and tracking all this stuff, it could be kind of like, you know, costly or, you know, like how do we get the buy-in that we need for these initiatives? Where does that come from? Yeah, I think it can come from a number of sources. In my experience, I think in the beginning of the journey, it came a lot from employees and like the talent brand, right? Recruiting and retention and some of the topics that Caroline commented on about waste and the things that employees see, with the carbon goals that might not feel real because it's like this invisible pollutant and what does that have to do with me? But when you have, you know, plastic wrapped snacks, people care about that. So a lot of, I think, sustainability programs are born from waste management and employee concerns over that. And I think that's fantastic. And we should all keep speaking up on that kind of thing. And then from there, you sort of build up. Now, I think what's happening is, and this is what we've been needing to have happen for decades, a big shift in terms of leadership's concerns over climate change, you know, focus on ESG reporting and just everything you hear in the news. You know, we've got the climate summit going on. We just had the amazing announcement yesterday of the US slashing emissions by 50%. That is very important for companies to understand what does that mean for them? What does it mean even for their products? How do they adapt to this changing thing? Because as we know, climate is everything. It's not just the energy. It's how food is grown. It's how buildings are built, like Caroline said, with the concrete and the mass timber. So there's something for everybody. And I think people are starting to kind of wake up to that and realizing that they need to jump on the bandwagon. In terms of, you know, resources, I think that we've been very lucky at LinkedIn and Microsoft that this has always been a top priority. I don't feel like I've run up against, you know, a lot of people who don't challenge it. Maybe it didn't feel like a priority three or four years ago, like it does now. And so making the business case, showing that people care, showing it's the right thing to do, I think it's really key. Yeah, this is one of those things that like, when we talk about the very few, like positives of the pandemic, because there are a few, this is one of those things where we were able to actually see measurable change when people were not commuting every day. And, you know, it's again, one of those moments where we were able to really, hi, Bevan. It's one of those moments where we're able to like really see like a serious change based on our actual habits. And so our habits made a difference with the earth. So that was great. Yeah. That's really amazing. I just wanted to touch base back to you, Dana, also, and just what's the coolest thing that LinkedIn has done so far in this sphere? Like, how are you guys like driving towards your carbon negative goal? Wow, it's hard to pick one. Gosh, I think, you know, we have sort of two ways of looking at our program or in sustainability in general, you hear a little bit about like the footprint and the handprint. I'm not sure if you've heard that term before, but footprint is generally what is your negative impact that you're trying to erase, right? So that is something like your waste and your carbon and water. And then the other side is your handprint. What's the good you're trying to bring into the world? And so LinkedIn, we're starting to look at both footprint and handprint. So I think for footprint, you know, one of the most exciting things that we're doing is really focusing in on our waste and looking at what are the sources of waste. And of course, there is office waste, right, that the employees generate in non-COVID times when they're in the office. But there's also the construction waste, which is huge when you're clearing out a building, like Caroline was saying. And so I think one thing that's exciting is just our focus on really getting it right with materiality. What are the biggest sources and working on those first? And we have a new office opening up in Nebraska, and we're using as much reclaimed wood and recycled materials as possible and making sure that we really try to get toward that 90% diversion rate. And I just feel like that's really exciting. In terms of the handprint, so the good that we're trying to bring to the world, one of the great features on LinkedIn, it's called LinkedIn Learning, and it's skill development for professionals. And we have sustainability courses on there. And this is really an opportunity for us because if you think that there are 700 million people on LinkedIn, if we can reach even a small percentage of them and inspire them and educate them and get them going on green economy and green skills, that can really lift this whole thing up into the world. So that's something I'm excited about is the skill development in terms of green skills on LinkedIn Learning. That's exciting. Is that available to everybody to go on? Yeah. So if you're a premium member, you have access to the whole learning catalog. And actually right now for Earth Day, I think for about a week, we have three courses that are open to the entire membership base for free. So that's exciting. Yeah. Sustainability leadership, employee's guide to sustainability, and I think sustainable strategies in business. So I think my plan this weekend just changed from buying chickens to going on LinkedIn Learning. Might be a little easier. Less commitment. That's awesome. So anybody can just go on LinkedIn and do like a search and those will come up for them? Yep. LinkedIn.com. And then you go to the learning tab and they are unlocked right now for Earth Day. That's super cool. And you guys have a, you're the head of your employee organization. It's called Go Green at LinkedIn. How much participation do you have in that? So Go Green is our employee group for environmental sustainability. We have about 2000 people who've signed up for it. They are in various levels of engagement, but they get the monthly newsletter, they get opportunities to participate. And then we have local leaders in each kind of office area that step up to be champions. And we have about 60, I think, leads who are leading initiatives around the world. So it's really fun. That's super amazing. Yeah. Our group is still a little, it's called Green Cloud, hence our backgrounds. And we're still trying to continue to build in engagement in the group. But it is nice because as we're working towards launching some of our initiatives, we do get to work with the policy team and it's exciting. I think being involved in these type of initiatives really helps people get into those kind of cross-functional teams where you get to meet your other colleagues and see who's passionate about stuff. For me, one of the things I've been working on since I came to Cloudflare was getting rid of palm oil in the snacks that we have in San Francisco. Because I came in already very against... The way that we're doing monocropping of these kind of palm oils is really, really damaging to the environment. And it's hard to trace where these oils are coming from. So you kind of have to look to these bigger companies where they're taking pledges that supposedly their palm oil is coming from sustainable sources and tracing of these oils. But my goal has been just to get that palm oil out of the snacks. Now, this pandemic hasn't been the greatest thing for any of us, but one thing it has allowed is we have a full reset opportunity now at Cloudflare or at any company. And anyone from any company that's watching this who's been using kind of having a snack program that just has all the cookies and all the snacks and everything that the people want. And again, like Caroline was saying, like, hey, don't take away my Red Bull. Hey, don't take away my thing. Well, we already took everything away. So I can tell you that it's definitely my goal at Cloudflare to not bring back any kind of snacks that have that in it. And so it's like, how can we educate people to be like, hey, one of the things we were piloting also at Cloudflare before we... And we just started it right before the pandemic was we were doing a monthly, we do a weekly team lunch we have in the past. And we were switching to just one Wednesday a month where we were going to have it be a vegetarian, all vegetarian. So we're not trying to take away like everybody's meat all the time, but it's like, hey, we all know, those of us who pay attention, that there's some hardships for the environment around animal agriculture, the way that we're currently doing it. And especially like having such a reliance upon, you know what I mean, like animal proteins and stuff. So it was exciting to see Cloudflare was willing to be able to say, hey, we're going to go once a month, you know, and be meatless. Does LinkedIn have any of those types of initiatives or how do you guys, how do you do your food program there and snacks? How do you have healthy, sustainable snacks? Yeah. Thanks for asking. So we have a really strong culture of food at LinkedIn. People love it. And I think you're right now that we've all been for the most part out of the office for over a year, it is a reset opportunity because those perks that maybe were so hard to touch have now been gone. And so I think there is a chance that, you know, we can rethink some of the purpose driven products, at least that we want to offer. And so, you know, we have an amazing food team that we collaborate really closely with in terms of getting sustainability criteria into the catering contracts. So like, for example, the palm oil you talked about, making sure that that's called out explicitly. We do have to, we try to manage a lot of different expectations and diets of employees. So we have to be careful sometimes with like the protein conversation, but making sure there's various options, prioritizing local and sustainable organic when possible. And so, yeah, it's going to be exciting to see the program kind of built back up once we move into the post pandemic world. It is feeling far away now, though. I think after over a year of cooking on your own at home, people are going to be extra appreciative of the warm lunch. Yeah, it also did a great job of telling the story, excuse me, the telling the story of like some of the farmer, like sometimes they would bring it special, like, you know, farmers or something like that, and telling the story of like the source of the food and where it came from. And just the whole kind of background. And I thought that was really great. That partnership. Yeah, very, we have a very thoughtful food, food team that brings in a lot of the stories and everything. Yeah. Thanks for highlighting that, Caroline. Yeah, that's amazing. And I think, you know, there's just so many conversations. This is obviously just, you know, the tip of the iceberg, and we only have about a minute left. So I just want to say thank you so much, you know, to Caroline and Dana for coming in. And Dana, how long have you been in your role at LinkedIn? Going on six years. Okay. So, and, you know, I think that's a nice thing to remind the people who might be watching this that care about sustainability is like, you know, there's master's degree programs, like because this, this, it might seem like simple, like, hey, we should recycle, but there's, there's so much going on to learn in this field. And so if you're inspired to, you know, in this, in this like path for your career to like, look into these type of programs, because this is a growing, especially now that you know, the the current leadership in the country really wants to build a green infrastructure in our country. The more that we can continue learning and growing and check out those cool offerings LinkedIn has for learning. So thank you so much, Caroline. Thank you so much, Amy. It's a great conversation. I'm excited about what we are going to be doing going forward. Yeah, I appreciate both of your time. And with that, have a wonderful Friday and happy Earth Day. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Happy Earth Day. Bye.