Nov 17, 2022

The path to sustainability

We’ve taken the first steps on our journey to deliver sustainable data infrastructure for everyone. Take a look at some of the things we’ve achieved so far – in our first sustainability update.

mark-roberts-senior-copywriter

Mark Roberts

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Senior Copywriter at Aiven

The path to sustainability illustration

After our Series D funding round, we published our Sustainability and Social Impact Commitment and took the first steps in developing a long-term strategy that will allow us to fulfill our goal of being a sustainable data infrastructure provider.

For any company, reaching sustainability goals is a long process. Right from the start we want to be transparent about that process and the steps we’re taking on the journey. We know the path might sometimes be hard, but we believe that by making this information open we hope to encourage other companies to take similar steps.

Our first steps

Right now we’re focusing our efforts on understanding and measuring Aiven’s carbon footprint, and to achieve that we’ve implemented Plan A’s carbon accounting software to start mapping it out.

As we’re still in the early days of utilizing the software, we’re aware that we face some significant challenges in interpreting the data. For example, this data only currently represents our Finnish operations, so we’re getting an incomplete picture.

Emissions measurement graphs at Aiven

Nevertheless, one thing is immediately clear: business travel to in-person events is by far the most significant source of emissions, with visibly identifiable peaks. Our Crab Week offsite in April, and in September conference season was in full swing, including our Uptime conference in Amsterdam. But is this the whole story?

At the moment, our data collection is far from complete. We still have to add non-travel emissions from Crab Week, and all the collected data requires validation to make sure we are not double counting something. For example, the screenshot above shows double counting for Uptime in September – so there is still plenty of work to be done.

Building diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

One of the first steps from our DEI team has been to revise and update our Code of Conduct to clarify expected behaviors and include more information about diversity and inclusion. We want to make sure we have a well-defined, shared understanding of the principles everyone at Aiven commits to. This will help us develop further instructions and strategies for communications and improvements.

Aiven also carried out a DEI audit consisting of a survey and interviews in the summer to get a better understanding of where we are with our key concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging throughout our team, and to discover the pain points we’re facing. We’ll be using the results from that audit to develop a DEI strategy by the end of the year.

Like many tech companies we face challenges in gender diversity for technical roles, and we know there is room for improvement in many other areas. We believe that one way to learn and improve is through participation in community events so we can share knowledge. This autumn we participated at Current in diversity meetups, and at PGConf where we sponsored a breakfast organized by Postgres Women.

One of our biggest highlights was our very own Uptime conference, held in September in Amsterdam. For this developer-focused event, we created and sponsored a diversity scholarship so that people from different backgrounds around the world could attend and participate. We had 12 applicants taking part in the scholarship program, and enjoying the broad range of keynotes, presentations, and networking opportunities to discuss open source data in the cloud. Here’s what some of them thought:

Rahul Kunnath quote

Margaret Kinyanjui quote

Collins Munyendo quote

Lastly, we’ve continued to build out our internal employee communities, or ‘team member resource groups’ as we call them:

  • Lift – Women of Aiven has really kicked off and currently has 77 members.
  • Our Proud Crabs group also continues to grow and support our LGBTQ+ community
  • We’ve started internal discussions around new topics such as neurodiversity, parenting, and cultural and ethnic diversity.
  • We’re also building a cross-functional team that will eventually form the first DEI council of Aiven – more to follow on that!

Driving change through social impact

Aiven’s Social Impact initiative supports external projects that aim to improve society and utilize open source technologies to achieve their goals. One of the aims of the program is to democratize access to technology – and as part of that initiative we’re proud to support Women++ for the second year.

Women++ is a Swiss non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the tech industry. Their deploy(impact) program focuses on women-friendly, hands-on software development for social good. It brings together the collaboration of industry leaders as mentors with tech enthusiasts of all levels - including women moving to the tech sector, and product owners that guide the development of software solutions to impact a social cause.

Aiven sponsored the event in both 2021 and 2022. Last year, out of 36 participants that finished the project, 5 people found a job within 2 months of the closing ceremony. We’re looking forward to hearing the results from the 2022 program.

Aiven’s Community Manager, Ana Vasiliuk, will be giving a lightning talk about her experience as a non-technical person in the tech industry. Ana says she’s “hoping to inspire those who are willing to switch their career but aren't sure where to start, or are intimidated by entering tech because of their lack of technical experience.”

Read more about Women++ and the deploy(impact) program.

Growing the team

We recently introduced the core Aiven sustainability team and we’re pleased to build out that core team further with our Social Impact and Sustainability Program leads. You can find out more about Klaus Schaller, our Internal Climate Track Lead, and Ewelina Grajko, Sustainability Lead, in our updated sustainability team blog post.

Next steps…

We’ll be making more updates as we collect more and more data to measure our emissions footprint, and all of that information will be presented in a detailed report in early 2023. We’ll be using the findings of that report to create our sustainability strategy.

Stay tuned for more sustainability updates, as well as information about our upcoming DEI strategy and social impact contributions.

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