It was just a small announcement at one of our quarterly meetings a couple of years ago. JIDOKA wanted to focus on sustainability. No big coverage on social media, just an internal commitment to put our company on a road to reduce its ecological footprint and to take up its social responsibility. Turns out that this is easier said than done for a software oriented service company. Why do you ask? Well, for starters, we don’t sell a product that has to be built in a factory, packaged and transported to our customers. So not much we can do about these classical sources of big ecological footprints. And we don’t own our offices, so we are more or less at the mercy of our landlords when it comes to energy contracts and energy performance of our offices. So what could we do? Quite a lot actually.
As a first step, we contacted VOKA and enrolled in their CSR Charter. The idea of this initiative is that the participating organisations create a yearly action plan containing at least ten meaningful actions that can be linked to one of the seventeen SDGs defined by the UN. Each year, the action plan is checked and its execution validated by an external jury. The advantage of the charter is that it pushes us forward, forcing us to think about what we can do next. Because each year you need to present a new plan with at least ten new actions. And after one or two years, the low hanging fruit is gone. We are currently in our fourth year, and not about to quit.
What did we do? Amongst other things we:
- Convinced our landlord to introduce separate bins for facilitating recycling of the waste produced on our office campus.
- Supported several worthy causes (Cunina, Natuurpunt, Prinses Harte, …).
- Participated in a River Cleanup Day.
- Made work life balance as agreeable as possible for our consultants.
- Convinced our customers to allow our consultants to work remotely as much as possible, even after COVID.
- Are making the switch to electrified mobility and are encouraging bicycles.
- Switched to fair trade/ecological products where possible.
- Introduced an explicit gender equivalence policy.
These may seem like small steps and easy things to do, but looks can be deceptive. Actually doing these small things and keeping on doing them requires effort and a constant expenditure of time and resources. But we try, and most of the time we succeed. We are not perfect, but at least we’re moving forward. And after successfully executing three action plans in a row JIDOKA can proudly call itself an SDG Pioneer, a certificate presented to us in 2022 by UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
What the future holds in store for us remains to be seen. But we are dedicated to keep pushing ourselves to be better every day, to practice what we preach and to continue on the road we started. Never say that you, as a person or a company, are too small to make a difference. Just look around you, and take action where you can. Because we owe it to ourselves and the generations behind us.