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In recent years, we have seen a gradual progression and increased interest in sustainable business practices. For large corporations and organizations, this progression towards a more green, environmentally friendly way of doing business is known as Corporate Sustainability.
You’ve probably noticed the subtle changes of Corporate Sustainability as a consumer, like plastic straws being switched to paper or burgers becoming increasingly plant-based. But while environmental strategies are one of the three pillars of Corporate Sustainability, the practice is more holistic than just reducing a company’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to the environmental pillar (improving a business’s carbon footprint) and the economic pillar (building longevity and reducing costs through sustainable ways of working), the practice of Corporate Sustainability is also aimed at improving the social dimension of operating a company. This means placing more of an emphasis on the health and wellbeing of employees.
The social aspect of Corporate Sustainability is often overlooked, and extensive measures in this area are still needed in order to achieve the dramatic shifts in our environment and society that will make a lasting impact for future generations.
How can companies use transportation to promote sustainability?
Corporations have the capacity to enact real change in the standard daily practices of their employees, particularly when it comes to their daily commute. When companies promote initiatives that encourage shared modes of transportation, such as carpooling, vanpooling, or a corporate shuttle service, those changes often have a measurable, positive impact on both the social and environmental aspects of Corporate Sustainability.
Consider your average commute to work. In urban areas of the US, the standard driver will spend the equivalent of five vacation days each year delayed in traffic (U.S. Department of Transportation). And when you factor in the number of cars on the road making the same journey with only one occupant, that’s a large amount of emissions being leaked into our atmosphere. In 2019, it was reported that 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US came from transport, and 58% of this was attributed to light or single-occupancy vehicles (United States Environmental Protection Agency).
It's not surprising that transport has been the largest source of carbon emissions in the US since 2016 considering the number of commuters travelling to and from work and the high percentage of private car usage throughout the country. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the population in the US alone is expected to increase by 70 million by 2045. So, the issue surrounding commuting to work is only set to worsen unless a modal shift is aggressively adopted.
There are a plethora of transit options available to the average worker, and companies that make it a priority to encourage a shift towards shared transportation will not only help our environment, they will also improve the wellbeing of their employees and more effectively meet the social aspect of their Corporate Sustainability goals.
What are the economic benefits of shared transport?
If companies were to implement shared transport options, whether through traditional modes of carpooling and vanpooling, or the newcomers, Demand-Responsive Transport and Microtransit, it would spell a host of benefits for their employees, their Corporate Sustainability goals, and their bottom line:
- By offering shared transport options to their employees, corporations will be alleviating the strain placed on commuters and can use their improved focus on employee wellness to attract and retain top talent. Long commute times are proven to have a negative bearing on people’s views towards their work and leisure.
- The infrastructure of our roads and parking structures is being damaged given the growing number of cars that traverse them every day. Employers that embrace shared transport will not only play a part in resolving this issue, but they can also save on their own expenses, as this transit option reduces the need to build and maintain new parking infrastructure.
- Private car ownership in the United States is expensive. According to a US Consumer Expenditure Survey, in 2019, the average household spent $10,742 on transport, with only $781 attributed to Public Transport. And not only is there a financial cost, but employees are also paying with their time after spending the equivalent of a standard work week stuck in traffic each year.
Why should companies work towards Corporate Sustainability?
Companies have the potential to pave the way when it comes to sustainability in a corporate setting. Shared transport offers a way of reducing private car usage within an organization’s workforce, which helps them save money, minimize their carbon footprint, and improve the wellbeing of their employees. By adopting alternative transit solutions such as carpooling/vanpooling initiatives, Demand-Responsive Transport or Microtransit services within their business practices, corporations can be at the forefront of all three pillars of Corporate Sustainability.
Were companies to work towards Corporate Sustainability, they would be well-placed to have a substantial impact on the environment and our society for years to come.