Climate Confident

From Bronze to Gold: Bridgette McAdoo's Climate Success Story at Genesys

February 01, 2023 Tom Raftery / Bridgette McAdoo Season 1 Episode 106
Climate Confident
From Bronze to Gold: Bridgette McAdoo's Climate Success Story at Genesys
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Show Notes Transcript

In today's Climate Confident episode I had the privilege of sitting down with Bridgette McAdoo, the Director of Sustainability at Genesys. In our conversation, we covered a wide range of topics related to sustainability and what it means for Genesys and the world.

We started by discussing the importance of sustainability and the role it plays in Genesys’ business strategy. Bridgette emphasized how sustainability is not just a buzzword, but a key factor in driving the company's success. She also shared her personal journey and how she ended up in this role, and the impact she has had since she joined Genesys.

We then talked about some of the sustainability initiatives that Genesys is undertaking, and their impact. Bridgette shared how the company is working with its suppliers to make sure they are following sustainable practices and how they are using platforms like Ecovadis and CDP to monitor their progress.

One of the highlights of our conversation was when Bridgette shared the impressive progress that Genesys has made over the past year and a half. We talked about how the company has moved from a bronze rating to a gold rating from Ecovadis, and from a D rating to a B rating from CDP, proving that Genesys is not just setting goals, but is actively working to be a leader in sustainability.

Lastly, we talked about the lessons learned from this journey and the importance of being agile, flexible, and patient. Bridgette emphasized that it's not possible to change everything overnight, but by taking it one step at a time, we can achieve great things.

If you want to learn more about Genesys’ sustainability efforts, be sure to visit www.genesys.com/sustainability. And if you want to learn more about Bridgette, or any of the things we discussed, then this episode is a must-listen! 

Thank you, Bridgette, for joining me today and sharing your insights and experiences.

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Credits
Music credits - Intro by Joseph McDade, and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Bridgette McAdoo:

When I talk about the value of sustainability or the value of ESG, it comes down to that employee attraction and retention. Surveys have clearly shown that, 70 plus percent of employees are looking for companies that are more sustainable and better stewards, more responsible to society

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Climate Confident podcast. The number one podcast, showcasing best practices in climate emission, reductions and removals. And I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Don't forget to click follow on this podcast in your podcast app of choice, to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the climate confident podcast. My name is Tom Raftery, and before we start. I just wanted to remind you that if you'd like to become a supporter of this podcast, to help me continue creating informative and engaging episodes, please visit the podcast support page, either by going to the website of the podcast, which is www.climateconfidentpodcast.com or simply by clicking on the support link in the show notes of this episode. You can make a small donation. Starting at just three euros a month. That's less than the cost of a cup of coffee, but it would really help me. Now. With that out of the way. On with the show. And today I have my special guest Brigitte. Bridgette, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yes, absolutely. Thank you for having me, Tom. My name is Bridgette McAdoo. I am the Chief Sustainability Officer at Genesys. We are a SaaS cloud contact center company that is based in the Bay Area. I am located in Washington, DC but happy to be here with you today.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And in your role as the chief Sustainability officer of Genesys? Well, I let, let's take a step back. First of all, how does one become the chief sustainability officer of an organization like Genesys, because it's not something that, I guess, has been on the university curricula for very long?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah, I, you know, I would like to say it was purposeful here at Genesys. And it, it was a top-down approach. So our CEO, Tony Bates and our Chief Strategy Officer, Peter Graf had a conversation about where they wanted to take the company and what vision they had for the company, a company that is based and rooted in empathy and in creating empathetic experiences for our customers. And it also was lucky for me that, you know, our chief strategy officer had been a CSO in, in a prior life, at a, a very large company. So he knew that this was a integral role in us moving that forward. So when they created the position and I, and I ended up meeting both of them, it just seemed like a perfect harmony. It gave me the opportunity to marry both my personal and my professional values. But while this was a very purposeful one, I think most companies don't get there that way. Chief sustainability officer roles are usually come out of crisis or out of a requirement, like a regulatory requirement. So I love it when it's a company that's actually looking at the ethos of the company and saying, we're missing something. And what we're missing is something that's gonna drive our values and our culture in a more responsible and sustainable way, and creating roles. I don't care if they call it sustainability impact reputational risk. There's all types of different titles, but the role is absolutely needed.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And I should in, you know, I should declare upfront that I do know Peter, Peter Graf. So, Yeah. Yeah. So, I, I'm ex-SAP as well, but we, we were in SAP at different times. So Peter was chief Sustainability Officer for SAP from, I wanna say 2008 to around 2015, more or less. That kind of ballpark. And I was an analyst at the time and interacted with him several times over that, had some meetings with him, lovely guy. And then he left and I joined SAP 2016 and I left just a few months ago. So, it's, yeah, it's, it's, he's, he's a lovely guy. He, he was the one who came out with SAP's messaging, if I remember correctly, saying that SAP would be an exemplar and an enabler. That was, I think that was his messaging, so, great.

Bridgette McAdoo:

Absolutely. And it's, and it's fantastic for me to have such support and understanding within the organization. It helps me to, you know, he helps me block and tackle in places and, and I don't have to do it often because we are truly we're, you know, our leadership is truly committed to it. But, you know, it's just always fantastic when you have leaders across the organization who are just as committed as you are.

Tom Raftery:

Sure, and for people who might be unaware, just tell us a little bit about the company and what you guys do.

Bridgette McAdoo:

Sure we're our technology enables businesses to turn transactional, fragmented consumer touchpoints into personalized in a holistic customer experience. That's what our, so we are on the, we are a SaaS company and, you know, we've had high growth and high success over the past few years. It's been fantastic to see Genesys evolve over the past, I'll say three year, four years under Tony's leader.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And as CSO of Genesys, I mean, what are your big challenges?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Well, I think, you know, unlike some companies where you have branded waste or you manufacture something, when you're a technology company and your business priority is to be a cloud company, then you know, People would say, well, what are you really working on? But we look at sustainability as that holistic, integrated approach. So from an environmental perspective, we're laser focused on moving our customers from the traditional on-prem to the cloud because we know that significantly will reduce our carbon footprint and it's also one of our business priorities. So those two are you know, intimately married to one another. Then, you know, we have our goals around, we wanna positively touch 1 million lives by 2030, and that's using our product for good, that's using our employees and engaging through our communities. We have four pillars through our community impact called Impact Together. Then we have our diversity initiatives where we want our workforce to be as diverse as where we work. And so we have initiatives around that. Those are goals that are also 2030, and we're very transparent about it in our sustainability report. Then of course, availability, compliance and uptime. We wanna make sure that we maximize and optimize that at all given times. And so we're looking at everything from the E, the S, and the G that we're driving. But those are where we're laser focused, our diversity initiatives, our community and engagement, using our technology for good and then making sure that we continue to reduce our carbon footprint by moving our customers to a cloud and making sure that our buildings are efficient. So we have our new Menlo Park office, our new Galway office in Ireland. Both have been LEED certified. We're very proud of that. And we'll continue to right size our footprint so that we can make sure that as green as possible.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. When Peter was doing sustainability for SAP, very much, the acronym that was used was CSR and now it has changed to E S G. Can you talk a little bit about the, that transition? What's the, the big difference you see between CSR and now E S G?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah, I hear a lot of people when they talk about the, what's the difference between sustainability, ESG, CSR, and a lot of people will tie ESG to investors and they'll, they'll say, well, ESG is just what investors are using now. And that's why it's gained such momentum because now it's tied to investor investor relations and how financially companies are being reviewed. And there's a lot of truth to that. I like the traditional use of the word sustainability, the people, profit, the planet. When you're looking at how you can have synergy and across the economic value, the community value, and the environmental value of how your business is run. CSR, while, you know, I think when I look at companies and I see CSR as the driver, or CR you know, corporate responsibility, those are usually way more of a volunteerism community engagement focus versus all of the other pillars. So you'll still see companies that'll have like a ESG platform, and then they'll have a CR team and you're like, wait a minute, who should all be integrated, but in their mind, they have kind of siloed out their community engagement, their philanthropy, and they're referring to it as C S R, and then everything else is E S G or sustainability, however they're wording it. So I think for me, the, the word sustainability has probably been so diluted that people were always trying to move to what the next word is. CSR was getting used for a while, but then I think it got completely put into that one lane of community and the social lane. And then now it's kind of, again, pivoted to E S G that most people you'll hear uh, referred to that way. At the end of the day, hopefully, people are looking at it holistically and looking at it in a intersectionality perspective and not just parsing out. Because what I am noticing is that if I see a sustainability team, that means they're only focused on environment. And if I see a CSR team, they're only focused on the social and then who's focusing on the governance? I'm not sure. But if you're really gonna drive it across your organization, those things should be integrated and you should have a holistic approach to how you're, pushing this across your teams.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. From previous episodes of the podcast and we're over a hundred episodes in now I've heard anecdotally people say that. the ESG journey leads to greater employee engagement lower cost of attracting and keeping customers in makes investors happy. Is that something that you can concur with? I mean, or do you have any data around that? Even better still?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah, I absolutely concur with it. I, when I talk about the value of sustainability or the value of ESG, it comes down to that employee attraction and retention. Surveys have clearly shown that, 70 plus percent of employees are looking for companies that are more sustainable and better stewards, more responsible to society. It helps with differentiating yourself to your customer base because you can one, show them that you're going to be in partnership with them and helping with any goals they have around climate change, diversity, equity, inclusion. Around societal impact or equitable access. If your goals marry to that, then you're helping to differentiate or help to advocate for the people that you're partnering with or the customers that you might do business with. You know, they, studies have been set as 70% of consumers are looking for sustainable sustainability within, they don't wanna pay more for it at times. But they will, a and they are expecting that you know, the average company has embedded it into its ethos or into its product quality or how you're executing your products or your services. So I absolutely concur with anyone and everyone who talks about sustainability as a value driver and a value differentiator.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And there's a, a movement as well now in finance that companies that are engaged in ESG projects are finding capital easier or cheaper to access. Has that been your experience as well?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah, impact investing or sustainability investing and ESG investing has tripled over the past, couple of years. You know, the amount of trillions that are pouring into this space is significant. The amount of funds that have been created to solely focus on this space have been significant. And so, yeah, you can't get away from the fact that this is becoming a way to do business and a way to attract investing into your business. So, yeah, I, we've seen it, it, the shift has been how significant the shift has been it's been kind of amazing to me compared to 10 years ago when I first started in this space to now it's tripled I think every single year.

Tom Raftery:

I, I would've said particularly in the last two, three years, it's kind of almost gone exponential. It was, it was slow during the teens., but once we hit the the twenties, it started to really take off. Is is that, is that just me or do you

Bridgette McAdoo:

so it has absolutely taken off.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. Why?

Bridgette McAdoo:

And rightfully so. I think it's a fantastic evolution of how we're looking at making sure that companies think more it, you know, to put a, a kind of a, a green tax on how businesses think about the future of their funding. And I think it's exciting because, you can't escape the responsibility of having to be more committed to making your businesses more sustainable and responsible. And either you can either do it from a regulatory perspective or you can do it from a financial perspective. Either way it's a necessary part of, you know, making sure that we have this shift in how businesses are operating.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. It's not just a another tick box for people to tick off

Bridgette McAdoo:

I hope not, right? You know, I think there are some that are still trying to pretend that it's not coming down the pipeline, but no, it's not a checkbox. And for those who do treat it like just, you know, a way to check boxes and so that they can move on to the next thing, I think they will ultimately have to They will pay the consequences for it because the more that you prepare yourself and you're proactive in this space the better you are positioned to have more efficiencies within your business, your employees are more engaged. The health, and wellness of your employees are better off the communities that you're selling into will start to reflect that intentional and purposeful interaction. You'll start to see it, permeate throughout your business in different ways. And, and those are it's hard to, sometimes you can't quantify that. I think that's where it gets tied up. People try to always quantify some of these sustainability initiatives, and some of them are reputational, some of them are qualifiable. And you have to make sure that you give just as much credence to those things that you can't quantify because they can, they might just be protecting you as part of risk management.

Tom Raftery:

And do you think this interest that we're, we've talked about that's kind of exponential at the moment versus how it was in the teens, do you think that'll be sustained? Or, or do you think it's a flash in the pan?

Bridgette McAdoo:

I think it will be sustained because there's so many regulations. You have the new regulations that have just, you know, been proposed in the eu. You have the SEC guidelines that are coming down the pipeline, and so whether people are gonna proactively go out and do it because it's the right thing to do. Or be regulated to do it because, the governments are getting to the point of requiring. I don't think it's gonna go away. I think it will. I, I think within the next two years, you know, if you're not doing it on your own, you will have to do it in some form or fashion.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Do you ever see it being as reported as rigorously as financial reporting?

Bridgette McAdoo:

It'll be interesting to see what happens with the SEC guidelines in January or February when they are proposed. There's a lot of scrutiny around it, of course, because everyone's trying to push back on exactly how will you measure it, and that's where the sustainability becomes a little bit difficult versus you know, traditional financial reporting is being very clear about how we're going to measure. You know, the requirements and once that is, I think once that gets developed in more robust, rigorous way, then yeah, I think, 5, 10 years from now, we will see reporting very similar to the way we do financial reporting. Reporting right now is already very exhaustive. on the sustainability side.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. And, and there's, I, I think, I think there's a lack of standards at the moment. It's an immature space, so it's, it's probably where a financial recording or reporting was back maybe in the twenties and thirties, just after the, the collapse of Wall Street. So I think things will just have to pick up faster in ESG reporting than they did in financial reporting.

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah. And that's why there's so much scrutiny around. It's because the standards are not as formalized as in other spaces. You know, what does good look like? How will you measure this? And when you don't have that, but yet you, you have this overarching these policies that might come down the pipeline, but no one can tell you truly how they're gonna be measured and what standards they're gonna go by. That creates a little bit of ambiguity, but I do think the intention is there, right? I, you know, the signal is there of what it's trying to drive. So I do think it'll ultimately get flushed out. In the next two years, we'll probably see a little bit more rigor and clarity around what the expectations will be, I hope.

Tom Raftery:

Okay.

Bridgette McAdoo:

hope. Fingers crossed cuz right now, yeah, that is, if you ask most people, most of my colleagues, our biggest pain point is the reporting part and the lack of continuity around the standards.

Tom Raftery:

Right.. Okay. Interesting. And what about support from the boardroom or support from ground level employees? You know, kind of bottom up versus top down versus everything in the middle.

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah. Yeah. I've been so blessed here at Genesys. So we have, of course, you know, Tony and Peter who helped with, helped me to advocate from the top. You know, our board is or our operating committee cuz we're privately held. They've been intimately involved in, and having conversations and presenting to the board all of our sustainability initiatives and outcomes. And then our employees, we have sustainability ambassadors over a few hundred e employees that have volunteered their time to be ambassadors across the globe. We have chapters, we have a chapter in Manila, chapter in India, we have a chapter in of course the US, and then we're creating one in the UK of sustainability ambassadors. We also have a great partnership with our Impact Together team on driving community initiatives and volunteerism across the company. And then I have a council of leaders across the company, about 25 different people who did help me with quarterly, you know, making sure that as I'm developing a strategy or we're executing things or we're needing to block and tackle across the organization that they can help with that. So there's engagement across the organization, and we also do something called Sustainability Month in April, where we just take the whole month to just drive sustainability. And our DE&I team also has what they call better together conversations monthly to bring together everyone. And then we have our inclusion groups that are fantastic across the organization that continues to partner and help drive and collaborate. So yeah, we are really over the past two years to see the journey that Genesis has taken to address sustainability and diversity and to engage everyone, all 6,000 plus employees around the globe has been significant. And I, I've been very proud of the work that we've done.

Tom Raftery:

Interesting. And what about your supply chain? Are you working with your supply chain as well?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yes, we are. So, you know, we have constant conversations with our procurement leaders around supply chain and as most companies, it's the one area that's the hardest to start moving and getting the change in. But we're taking those kind of step change. So, you know, starting with, updating, all of our vendor code of conduct and all of our policies around supplier diversity and, and establishing that. So there's a lot of foundational work that we've been working with them on, and they've been fantastic partners. Just right now we're kind of developing this roadmap for 2023. Of different initiatives we're gonna take, creating a pledge around sustainability for our supply chain. You know, looking at how we can, you know, look across our tiers so that we can drive, transparency, which is what you really need across your supply chain. And then, you know, putting together some different projects and business cases with different suppliers. So we, it's an active conversation. It's the the one area that I know needs the most nurturing within our business is our supply chain. But for me, I think the best part is the fact that our leaders on that team are an active participant in the change cuz it's not happening to them, it's happening with them and because of them.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And are you working with other business peers as well? Other organizations in a similar space to, to share notes that kind of thing?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Yeah, we do get, you know, we're constantly benchmarking and we'll reach out to peers to ask how they handle certain things. And, especially when it came to supplier diversity, there is a few different coalitions that we participate in to survey out. We have very similar supply bases and we'll survey out and get those types of responses back. But yeah, we we're constantly trying to keep a pulse of what's happening around us with you know, companies so that we can, one, make sure that we're staying actively up to date, anything that we need to be aware of, but two, that we're not having to recreate the will. Just like, you know, reporting can be exhaustive, a lot of our supply chain can have survey fatigue and we're conscious of that, and so we do not want to create that. So whether it's using platforms like Ecovadis, or CDP, or partnering with peer companies to figure out the best way to get the answers we need from our suppliers, we're actively pursuing all of those different avenues.

Tom Raftery:

Cool. Cool. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Bridgette. Is there any question that I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to think about?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Well, speaking of supply chain, I will say, well, it's not a question, but I guess a question would be like, what are some of those, successes that we've had in this past year? And I'll tell you you know, speaking of the supply chain, when Ecovadis is one of the ratings that people look at for supply chain. And over the past year and a half, we've moved from bronze when what we were not rated when I came, we were bronzed within like the first few months. And then today, you know, as of this past month, we just received our gold medal from EcoVadis. And that shows this, you know, thank you. But to go from bronze to gold in a year and a half is significant. And we've seen, and that has a lot to do with our sustainable procurement policies DE&I, our emissions and our environmental trajectory and our course, our governance. And we've seen we're very proud of that success. And then on we also just found out we went from a, you know, as a privately held company, when I first came into the role, I found out that people were just responding to CDP, not knowing, understanding the consequence. You know, like somebody in the UK would get this survey and we're like, and so we were getting these horrible scores. We had a D. And I, you know, I had to shut it off and say, no one respond to these types of surveys without sending them to my team. But now that we, you know, have responded we have went from a D to a, B and CDP just within again and within a year. So, you know, to have that type of progress, to go from a D to a B. And then to go from a bronze to a gold, I think is proof that we're doing more than just setting goals. We're actually actively trying to be a leader in this space and to bring everyone within Genesis and that partners with Genesis along this journey with us.

Tom Raftery:

Just, I'll throw another question in cuz that leads, that leads to a thought lessons learned?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Lessons learned. You can't boil the river, right? I mean, we knew that going in, but you know, we have a very lean team. And you have to to know that sometimes a no means not now. You know, when I first came in, I had like a 90 day plan and a six month plan of all these things that needed to get done, and we needed to pace and sequence that so that we could, you know, understanding the resource requirements. And a lot of this was very new to so many other people that we were partnering with. And so it's just the, the, the need to be agile flexible patient and know that some nos are just not nows.

Tom Raftery:

All right, great. Super Bridgette, that's been fascinating. If people would like to know more about yourself or any of the things we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?

Bridgette McAdoo:

Please come visit us at www.genesys.com/sustainability and you can find us there.

Tom Raftery:

Perfect. Great Bridgette. That's been really interesting. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Bridgette McAdoo:

Thank you for having me.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about the Climate Confident podcast, feel free to drop me an email to Tom raftery@outlook.com. Or message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you like the show, please, don't forget to click follow on it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks, catch you all next time.

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