“We must act now because we know it’s the right thing to do. We’re committed to thinking about how we do business to limit our carbon footprint.” Megan Clarken, CEO
As many countries have just experienced one of their hottest summers, the backlash of climate change on our lives can no longer be ignored. If we all know what sustainable development officially means, today, we’re going to deal with Criteo’s own definition and what we put behind it. For us and for many other companies, the biggest challenge is to reduce our carbon footprint. And this means changing how we do business, along with the way we work and even interact with each other. We are therefore looking for ways to thrive as a business leaders while having a more positive impact on our planet.
Criteo’s journey toward environmental sustainability in a nutshell
For Criteo, this urging need to “go greener” came from within. Our Sustainability Global Manager, Justine Tabarin, says she used to be approached by employees who weren’t afraid to challenge us to go further. As an aftermath of climate change’s growing awareness, current generations have grown increasingly concerned about the way they buy, eat, live, and, of course, work. And, more specifically, how they work and whom they work for. Beyond perks & benefits, companies’ culture, brand reputation, and values have turned into real competitive assets now that people are paying more attention to business ethics. In such context, building a strong environmental sustainability strategy ends up being a win-win situation; for the planet on one hand, and for Criteo on another as we’ll keep attracting people committed to making the world a better place. So, now that the goal is set, the question is: How do we get there? If over the years some isolated actions have been taken, the need for a consolidated strategy soon grew stronger. Until now, only the Infrastructure Team, which oversees our relationship with data centers, has had a sustainability criterion in its roadmap and objectives. Since this area accounts for the biggest part of our global carbon footprint, it is good to know they have been working on this topic the longest. The other good news is that a strategy has now been defined to guide us through this challenging journey. After assessing the company’s current carbon footprint, business needs, and ambitions, we defined our 10 top commitments for the years to come. We strongly believe these commitments are prior steps to make the way we work and do business more sustainable in the long run. Justine kindly agreed to take us through each of them.
Our Top 10 Commitments towards environmental sustainability:
- Reducing the carbon footprint of our products and services.
- Reducing and greening the energy used to power our data centers.
- Working with our suppliers to better control the sustainability of the supply chain.
- Reducing and optimizing our corporate trips.
- Responding to the EcoVadis questionnaire and obtaining a rating by 2023.
- Setting up a Sustainability Steering Committee with the involvement of a Board Member.
- Managing our first climate risk assessment.
- Setting up carbon emission reduction targets and having them approved by SBTi.
- Responding to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) questionnaire and obtaining a rating by the end of 2023.
- Continuing to follow the TCFD framework.
Looks like we’ve got some work ahead of us, right? So, where and how do we start?
How and where do we start?
Supported by an environmental sustainability roadmap, these commitments are basically key priorities to decarbonize our activity. If we were to split them into 3 scopes, here’s how it would go:
- Scope 1: how to optimize our consumption of primary materials (oil, wood, gas, etc.)
- Scope 2: how to optimize our energy consumption.
- Scope 3: how to optimize the way we run our business (travel, events, plastic consumption, and the use of the Criteo solution and products).
The prior goal here is to set reduction targets for each group that make sense for Criteo. For example, if we were to reduce our travel expenses by 80%, it would sound enormous, but this would be nothing compared to the carbon footprint of the data centers we work with. Our job here is therefore to analyze, assess and choose reduction targets that are impactful, coherent, and manageable without bringing our business down. We have the ambition to become the world’s leading Commerce Media Platform and reduce our carbon footprint simultaneously. It is up to us to find the best way to make these ambitions work together.
When working with data collection, making our business more sustainable is a great challenge. Improvements can be made, like optimizing the way we collect data, so we don’t have to stock unnecessary data in centers that consume energy. There is a lot to be done but we have the chance to be in a business that can evolve if the right actions are taken. We want to abide by real commitments that make sense for us, not just greenwash our brand. We have set up clear goals for the next years, which will help us adjust and refine our targets. There is quite an important onboarding to be done as we’re adding a sustainability criterion to new business areas. It is all about finding the right balance.
Our environmental sustainability roadmap will imply:
- R&D: finding more sustainable ways to work with artificial intelligence and data centers.
- Product, Solutions & Services: redefining ways to assess the energetical cost of ad campaigns to suggest more sustainable, yet impactful, alternatives to our clients.
- Procurement & Supply: finding committed vendors to work with.
- Workplace expenses including IT, hardware, software, events, business trips, etc. For instance, events are a big part of our culture so how do we keep doing it while making it more eco-friendly?
The right thing to do.
Leadership at Criteo seems to have grown more aware and more involved in this topic over the years as Justine’s career evolution illustrates. What was once a one-person part-time job focusing on reporting has become one main pillar of our company’s CSR strategy. “Criteo gave me the team, the resources, and the budget to work and make things happen in the right conditions,” says Justine, who can now count on two more teammates to work on this topic. “Things need to change but it won’t happen overnight. For sure, we will have to test, adjust, and try again, so we wanted to anticipate rather than wait. Better safe than sorry, am I right?”
In sum, things are on the move, on an individual and collective level. We’re already anticipating changes to come in terms of policies, rules, and regulations. “It is our responsibility as an Employer to lead this change, and to lead it by example,” she adds. Why? Because, as CEO Megan Clarken stated earlier, “We know it’s the right thing to do.”