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Corporate Responsibility in Action

Sustainability Spotlight - Decreasing the Impact of Your Next Business Trip

Created: 29 Jul 2014
Claire Blades's picture
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From climate change to cyber security to employee diversity, corporate responsibility (CR) and sustainability touches every aspect of Symantec’s business. We’ve defined our strategy and are continually working towards our goals to operate as a responsible global citizen. In addition to our dedicated global corporate responsibility team, every day Symantec employees across the world are helping us deliver on this, creating value for both our business and our stakeholders.

We are happy to bring you an ongoing feature of the CR in Action blog – the Sustainability Spotlight - that profiles employees and their contribution to Symantec’s CR and sustainability efforts. Some are members of our CR team, others contribute through our Green Teams or volunteering, some have seen an opportunity and developed programs in their function or region -- all are making a difference.

Today we hear from Claire Blades, Director of Global Travel & Meetings, about how, through her role at Symantec and personal passions, she is working to promote more sustainable travel options for Symantec employees and corporate travelers.

As the Director, Global Travel & Meetings, I manage the corporate travel and meetings process for Symantec employees, including travel arrangements/booking, reimbursement, and corporate meetings solutions. As most of you know, there are numerous environmental impacts – some obvious, some more discreet - in corporate travel. These range from the distance and form of transportation, to the efficiency and environmental credentials of the carrier we choose, to the environmental impacts of our lodging (both the hotel itself, as well as our own practices while traveling).  The choices we make as individuals when booking our travel can make a significant difference in all of these areas.

Over six years ago, as part of the expansion of Symantec’s Corporate Responsibility program, I was tasked with developing a Sustainable Travel Program and action plan to decrease the environmental impacts of Symantec’s corporate travel. At the time, I was already an active member of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and was invited to join the organization’s sustainability committee, both because I knew it would help me learn from others, but also due to my own personal passion to help the corporate travel industry develop more sustainable practices.

I quickly became chair of the GBTA’s Sustainability Committee and still serve as the chair today. This involvement has been invaluable to my sustainability work at Symantec, ensuring I am knowledgeable on key sustainable travel trends and putting me at the center of the latest sustainability initiatives for corporate travel. For example, I was involved in the development of the sustainability HCMI standards for hotels that are now used by various companies, including Symantec, in their RFPs for hotel programs.  Additionally, our committee spearheaded Project Icarus – one of the most highly regarded sustainability programs for the global business travel and meeting industry. Project Icarus ensures travel professionals and suppliers have the latest tools and resources to build and manage a sustainable travel program. In the future, we hope to support the development of additional standards for air and ground transportation.

At Symantec, our Sustainable Travel Commitment is comprised of three main components: reducing emissions from business travel, promoting more sustainable commute options and increasing the sustainability of our corporate events. Through this policy we reduced GHG emissions from our business travel by 3,015 metric tons CO2e, equivalent to an 8% absolute reduction between FY12 and FY13.  

I am primarily focused on the first two aspects, and currently working to further engage suppliers in our program. Additionally, many of our suppliers are making great investments in improving their sustainability through efficient fuel sources, waste reduction efforts, and more. A continual challenge is how I communicate this great work to show employees the full benefits of the partners we work with.

Although sustainability is just a small portion of my job, it is one of the aspects I enjoy the most. I see the direct benefit for our company, our employees and our planet, and feel good that I am contributing to a more sustainable future for our company. 

My final message to everyone is to make smart choices when you travel:

  • Don’t travel if you don’t have to, and take advantage of technology such as video conferencing that makes it easy to have face-to-face meetings without traveling. For example, at Symantec we encourage employees to use our state-of-the-art video and audio technology HP Halo Collaboration Studios for face-to-face collaboration when possible.
  • When you do travel, check to see if your company has a sustainable travel policy that enables you to choose eco-friendly options, or if your travel provider allows you to choose more sustainable options. For example, numerous car rental companies offer efficient fuel options including hybrids or electric vehicles, and airlines allow you to purchase carbon offsets that reduce the impact of your travel.  Additionally, many airlines and hotels have corporate responsibility programs and are working hard to improve the efficiency of their operations through waste, water and energy reduction efforts.
  • At Symantec, we encourage employees to use our online booking tool (where available) to choose the most sustainable options.  For example, they can choose our preferred suppliers who have been chosen for showing they decrease impacts in various ways and where available, employees can book hotels with a Green Leaf next to their name.

Every bit counts. Collectively we are reducing the environmental footprint of corporate travel and showing the industry as a whole that sustainable travel options are the preferred choice.   

Claire Blades is Director of Global Travel and Meetings at Symantec.