NWS, a trusted national telecom services provider, is using sustainability to find “solutions for the world we need next” while securing business and investment. When their biggest customers and portfolio investors request ESG information (like data, policies, and practices), they need to respond with ease, speed, and accuracy. They’ve built a foundation of sustainability that allows for visibility into their operations, communications with key stakeholders, and insights that empower them to grow.

Success highlights:

  • Measured latest footprint in <1 month (with automated Greenplaces integrations)
  • Produced 20+ ESG policies and a solid strategy to ensure #1 client renewal
  • 100% powered by renewables for Scope 2 electricity emissions
  • Driving operational efficiencies across supply chain vendors, shipping, fleets, and HQ practices
Sustainability Founding Story

Adapting to evolving investor and customer expectations

NWS views sustainability through the lens of constant progress. In 2021, as they prepared for acquisition, Jenn Viklund, chief of staff, and the NWS executive team received many requests for ESG information. Recognizing shifting market trends, investor priorities, and business requirements, Jenn sought out Greenplaces, as a partner and platform for holistic sustainability strategy and management. As is the case with many small businesses, a sole individual (Jenn) was asked to tackle sustainability in addition to her other full time responsibilities. She needed the right tools and team to make sustainability easy, accessible, and manageable.

Key clients–like telecom giants T-Mobile and Telus–soon began requesting emissions and ESG data, policies, and practices as part of their standard vendor inquiries. For NWS, whose sole business is serving telecom giants, sustainability had officially become a business requirement.

To instill efficiency, longevity, and greater impact into NWS’ sustainability practices, Jenn partnered with Greenplaces and set about building a strong foundation. The goal is to create a lasting approach to sustainability, one embedded in company goals and culture. For NWS, sustainability is all about growth and progress.

“To NWS, sustainability means progress. Progress in better serving our customers, growing our business, understanding our impact and enacting practices and policies that prepare for the future. Greenplaces is a partner in sustainability, who supports our progress and grows with us.“ – Jenn Viklund, Chief of Staff

Thanks to Jenn’s foresight and thoughtfulness, NWS’ sustainability practices are clear representations of their core values: People First, Work Smart, Customer Focus, Continuous Improvement, and Results Matter. Plus, all sustainability information, practices, and policies are readily available via Greenplaces, ensuring fast and seamless responses to customers, investors, and employees alike.

Sustainability Success

Sustainability driving “the world we need next”

Sustainability at NWS is motivated by the company’s larger mission of creating “the world we need next.” This focus on environmental stewardship is progressing throughout the company as well as their key stakeholders. As with other business practices, Jenn and the NWS team place a large emphasis on visibility, practicality, and ease of communication. Today, whether you ask employees, customers, or investors, they’ll say that NWS is a standout example of ESG principles and practices done with integrity and care. Which is no surprise to us, as Jenn and the team are pros at service and communication.

> Establishing a foundation and single source of truth

Jenn was eager to set goals, build sustainable practices, and do better business through sustainability. She was curious to discover efficient behaviors that already existed and identify glaring gaps. But knowing where to start, gathering data and inputs, and tackling sustainability alone is daunting.

“You can’t set goals or make plans, when you don’t know where you are to begin with.” – Jenn Viklund, Chief of Staff

Partnering with Greenplaces made the whole effort approachable and personalized, with a single platform from which to manage and grow all sustainability initiatives. Jenn and Greenplaces gathered the necessary data–across HR and commuting, location-based utility and energy, and finance and ops–to establish NWS’ baseline carbon footprint and gain visibility into their greatest emissions contributors. The team also conducted a materiality assessment and a gap analysis for ESG practices and policies. This foundational work directly informed the most impactful policies, activities, and investments for NWS to reduce their footprint and build their sustainability practices.

Referencing NWS’ baseline footprint and with automated emissions data connected to Greenplaces’ platform, the team measured NWS’ 2022 footprint in less than one month.

> Codifying best practices with a robust ESG policy library

With a strategic foundation and identified gaps, the next step was codifying NWS’ ESG and sustainability standards, by establishing best-practice policies. Using Greenplaces’ templates, NWS created over 20 new ESG policies (largely from scratch)–including a DEI policy, Sustainability Statement, and day-to-day corporate governance policies–which they easily share with investors, customers, vendors, and employees alike.

Robust policies are circulated throughout the company, establishing a framework and clarity around NWS ESG standards, practices, and vision. They have bolstered NWS’ profile and boosted their ratings in customer ESG reporting systems like CDP and EcoVadis. For example, with the ability to confirm they have critical DEI policies and practices in place, NWS quickly achieved Bronze status in EocVadis. Plus, the policies exist in multiple languages for international inclusivity and consistency, specifically French for an office in Quebec. The process of creating and reviewing these policies helped build internal leadership buy-in and momentum that was crucial to NWS’ sustainability progress and success.

> Securing business and buy-in, with ease and accuracy

Real-time, accurate sustainability insights, policies, and content enables NWS to easily share the right information, with the right stakeholders, at the right time.

  • Investors: An exemplary portfolio company, investors greatly appreciate NWS’ speedy and comprehensive responses to annual investor surveys and one-off requests for ESG reporting–including detailed Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and documented standards and practices.
  • Customers: Jenn and team have exceeded rigorous reporting requirements (in systems like EcoVadis and CDP) from top tier customers like T-Mobile and Telus, with easy access to accurate emissions data, their robust ESG policy library, and shareable sustainability content.
  • Executives: Jenn accesses the latest insights and progress via Greenplaces’ platform to provide quarterly updates on sustainability to her Executive team and Board members.
  • Cross-functional peers: Jenn references actionable sustainability data and insights when collaborating with Ops and Purchasing teammates, who oversee the largest percentage of NWS’ footprint. Collectively, they assess and tackle operational and supply chain efficiencies.
  • Employees: Internal communications and buy-in on sustainability initiatives are more impactful with existing policies and special initiatives to rally around–like the removal of single-use plastic water bottles from the office, adoption of a recycling program, and more.

Everyone benefits when accurate, actionable sustainability information is readily accessible and standardized across the organization.

> Investing in renewables and environmental projects

With an accurate read on emissions and thoughtful sustainability strategy, Jenn and her team can make carbon investments that are right for their company goals and culture. To date, NWS has purchased renewable energy credits, powering 100% of their Scope 2 electricity emissions (~280 mT). NWS has offset an additional 425 mT of CO2e, by investing in verified global environmental projects that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These include wind power projects, landfill methane capture projects, and advanced truck stop electrification.

Looking Forward

Continued, sustainable progress

Jenn and team are determined to create a sustained and holistic reduction of their environmental footprint and pursue operational excellence. Building on their foundation, they plan to focus on their supply chain, fleet, energy usage, HQ practices, and more.

They are currently working to improve the shipping aspect of their supply chain, to gain operational efficiencies and reduce emissions. NWS is now working with one logistics service provider, streamlining shipments of their telecoms materials, and reducing the number of partial truckloads in favor of full truckloads. They are also improving their fleet efficiency: retiring the fleet of company vehicles (opting for personal vehicles, public transit, carpooling, etc.), and replacing gas-powered forklifts in their warehouses with electric ones. To get an even more nuanced view of their supply chain, they have plans to survey all suppliers about their ESG practices. And, to extend the lifecycle of their materials, they are investigating recycling options for traditionally hard-to-recycle materials like the massive wooden reels used to distribute their telecoms cable.

For NWS, no operational detail is too small. They know that a collection of‌ smaller efficiencies today can lead to tremendous environmental and cost savings in the long run. For Jenn and NWS, this work is bigger than responding to one-off customer requests or creating new policies. It’s about seamlessly weaving sustainability into every decision and the very fabric of their company culture. NWS is steadily progressing down their road to a more sustainable future, driving toward “the world we need next.”

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