Nov 15, 2022

Introducing the Aiven sustainability team

Aiven’s Sustainability and Social Impact program is off to a great start! Get to know our team and see how things are kicking off.

uliana-belonogova

Uliana Belonogova

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Content Marketing Specialist at Aiven

mark-roberts-senior-copywriter

Mark Roberts

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Senior Copywriter at Aiven

Laying the groundwork for Aiven sustainability

Program goals

Following our recent Sustainability and Social Impact Commitment, we’ve been working hard to develop a plan that will help us stop climate change and increase equal access to technology.

We’ve put in place some key policies that we believe can make a difference:

  • We want to provide clean and efficient data infrastructure for our customers.
  • We will promote diversity and inclusivity as a company both externally and internally.
  • We will lower the barriers to accessing new technologies.
  • We will promote healthy communities around open source projects that contribute to the development of our society and economy.

To realize these ambitious goals, we’ve created a Sustainability and Social Impact team full of dedicated and passionate Aiveners to take lead roles on specific tracks, or contribute to the program in other vital ways.

We’re happy to introduce them to you here:

  • Heikki Nousiainen - Field-CTO and co-founder at Aiven, focusing on the External Climate track
  • Sanna Putila - DEI Lead, focusing on the DEI track
  • Josep Prat - Open Source Engineering Director, focusing on the External Social Impact
  • Klaus Schaller - Workplace Experience Manager, and Internal Climate Track Lead
  • Ewelina Grajko - Sustainability Lead, driving the Sustainability and Social Impact program

Read on to learn about their focus areas and how they will contribute to Aiven’s sustainability goals.

1. Why is it important for companies to have Sustainability and Social Impact Programs?

Heikki - Climate:

First, because it’s the right thing to do - climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time that’s posing a threat to our environment, economy, and way of life. If companies have the power to help combat climate change, they shouldn’t remain just a passive bystander. Second, it also makes good business sense. By adopting sustainable practices, we will attract new customers while optimizing costs. It will also boost employee morale and help us find the best and brightest talent also in the future.

Sanna - Diversity and Inclusion:

Plenty of research shows that diverse and inclusive organizations are more effective, creative, and productive than others. An extensive McKinsey report from 2020 states that companies with wide cultural and gender diversity outperform their peers financially even by half.
A study by Accenture and Girlswhocode in 2021 included a staggering number: half of the women working with tech in the US drop out of the industry by age 35 because of exclusive cultures. Iconic research from Google shows that teams with psychological safety - a byproduct of Inclusion - perform best and are most creative at problem-solving.
These are all clear and proven business cases for Diversity and Inclusion done right.

Josep - Social Impact:

When people join new companies, it’s not enough to have good working conditions and good pay only. We also need employers to work on impacting climate action, diversity and inclusion, and social causes. So if companies want to be competitive in the hiring market, these actions must be part of their DNA. We need them to walk the talk and not only focus on PR campaigns.

Klaus - Internal Climate Track:

Looking into reducing our carbon footprint actually is not just about the climate, it’s needed to ensure that we have a planet we can live on. What could be more important than that? We – as a company as well as individuals at Aiven – have a responsibility to contribute to reaching global goals to limit climate change. Companies and organizations can all support this by setting up proper measures and policies so that we reinforce our employees’ behaviors in a sustainable way.

Ewelina - Sustainability Lead

Climate change is real, and the social implications that result from climate change are huge. No company should underestimate the impact it can have, not only on the global ecosystem, but also on local communities. It’s vital that we start investing in climate action today – or, quite frankly, yesterday. It’s important that all companies understand that this isn’t only about measuring and decreasing one’s carbon footprint. It is also about investing in any movement that helps us build a more just, diverse and equitable society that can be more creative when finding solutions to problems such as climate change.

2. What are some of the key areas of focus of the program for the upcoming months?

Heikki - Climate:

My primary efforts have mostly gone into understanding and calculating the carbon footprint of the services that we provide. This includes studying Cloud Carbon Footprint methodology and collected data, as well as creating tools for pulling the actual usage information from our production per service basis.

The usage information includes number, types and location of cloud virtual machine instances running, as well as numbers such as CPU and network usage. With these inputs, and using Cloud Carbon Footprint data, we can calculate estimates on energy usage and derive estimates on the emissions resulting from running a single service.

Once we've proven and validated our initial results with industry experts, we aim to make these numbers available to all of our customers for all their services.

Sanna - Diversity and Inclusion:

Currently, we are measuring the state of diversity and Inclusion at Aiven by running an internal survey to know where our development opportunities lie. We are working on channels, processes, and training to ensure that harassment is always taken seriously and acted upon, and everyone can feel safe to report any misconduct.

We are working with Employee Resource Groups to create environments where people can find support and resources from their peers and raise issues. We are looking at how well our people processes recognize the needs of different people and tackle biases, for example, in performance evaluations.

At the same time, we recognize that much is still to be done. Aiven’s workforce today is not as diverse as it could be. We are working towards ensuring that all of our processes treat people fairly, and that Aiven as a company is an environment where everyone can thrive as their authentic selves.

Josep - Social Impact:

I’ve created an ambitious high-level roadmap on how Aiven can impact societal change, empowering groups who are typically left out of the conversations. In the upcoming months, I plan to narrow down this high-level plan and develop actionable items for the short and medium-term. For example, I aim to create shortlists of Open Source projects focused on grand challenges and nonprofit organizations focused on code. Engaging with these projects and communities will help Aiven maximize our impact and champion social good.

Klaus - Internal Climate Track

In order to change something, you need to first understand where you are at right now. We’re currently putting a lot of effort into ensuring our carbon footprint is measurable so that we can develop and track the actions needed to reduce it. We’ve already reviewed our internal travel and event guidelines to include sustainability as a key factor when planning. But as a growing and increasingly global organization there is much to be done, and measuring our regional office footprints will be one of the upcoming focuses.

Ewelina - Sustainability Lead

There’s a lot of work happening simultaneously in all of the program tracks, but let me share one highlight for me. We’re currently in the process of getting visibility into our carbon emissions by using the Plan A Carbon Manager. Understanding our footprint will inform our strategy and we have ambitious targets in mind. We’ll keep you posted about building our Sustainability report.

3. What is the strategic value your role and track will bring to Aiven?

Heikki - Climate:

Being able to provide transparency on the carbon footprint of the running Aiven services is essential for our customer reporting obligations. That said, our ambition is to help our customers to also reduce those emissions through offering recommendations on rightsizing or providing fair comparison between for example different deployment locations.
Internally, we will be using these same calculations to optimize our own usage and emission profile.

Sanna - Diversity and Inclusion:

Succeeding in creating a diverse and inclusive company will help Aiven leverage the entire talent pool available. It will also make sure that everyone working at Aiven can engage and connect with the company. This way they can thrive based on what they achieve, not who they are. Successful Diversity and Inclusion management is a way for us to perform at our best.

Josep - Social Impact:

We’re strong believers in open source and want to enable more people to use and develop open source projects close to their hearts and minds. We also believe encouraging our employees to contribute to open source projects with a positive social impact (as well as supporting such projects financially) can boost a workplace atmosphere and improve brand perception.

Klaus - Internal Climate Track

I believe there needs to be a shift in perspective from companies being shareholder-driven to stakeholder-driven. Rather than focusing only on shareholders (people who own a part of Aiven), we should shift our focus to stakeholders: the people who are impacted by what we do. By doing this, we can more clearly understand how our choices and actions affect our customers, our employees, and future generations, as well as our investors, partners and shareholders. I’d like to see us changing our perspective from delivering unilateral benefits to creating and contributing to a holistic and sustainable ecosystem for all stakeholders.

Ewelina - Sustainability Lead

My role is to act as the glue for the three tracks of our program: Sustainability, DEI and Social Impact. I’ll be supporting the core team with goal setting, alignment on what’s most impactful and working with other leaders across the organization to understand how to build and implement a sustainability strategy at Aiven. My goal is also to help Aiven deliver sustainability leadership so we can support other companies and contribute collectively to a better future.

Wrapping up

We’re really excited about our Sustainability and Social Impact program and the positive impact it will make on the planet and its people. We have big plans for the future - we’ll keep you updated on our progress!

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