Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

leonkaye headshot

CSR Report Review: Salesforce.com and Cloud Computing Sustainability

Words by Leon Kaye

There will always be debate about whether having more and more of our data on the cloud is really more sustainable in the long run, but one company making a difference in this space is Salesforce.com. On the business side, it is easy to argue this San Francisco-based company has had a beneficial impact on customer relationship management (CRM) systems. In recent years the US$4 billion company has become a major force in the cloud-computing sector, and is frequently touted for both being a truly innovative company as well as for its sustainability agenda. But the company is making a difference in communities and on corporate responsibility issues as well.

To that end, Salesforce.com recently released its latest sustainability report. A lot of what the report discusses is framed over how the company has evolved since its founding 15 years ago, and it can offer its peer companies, in Silicon Valley and beyond, ideas on how to become a more responsible and efficient operation.

The first highlight that must be shared is Salesforce.com’s community-centric approach to philanthropy. Described by the company as a “1-1-1 Model,” the company has long pledged to contribute 1 percent of its product, equity and employees’ time to projects devoted to social change. The results speak for themselves: As of January 2014, the company’s employees have collectively volunteered 580,000 hours to various organizations — and each employee on average is granted approximately six paid days so they can volunteer how they choose. By the company’s count, donations of its technology have led to 20,000 educational and nonprofit organizations using Salesforce.com products. And since 1999, Salesforce.com has distributed over US$55 million in grants for projects ranging from community development to technological jobs training. The ability for employees to give back, and the encouragement to do so, is one reason why the company regularly ranks highly in Fortune’s and Forbes’ lists of the best companies for which to work.

While its further development of cloud computing has accelerated the company’s growth, Salesforce.com has also strived to make its business run more efficiently — including the bricks-and-mortar shells that house the company’s employees. The company has embraced LEED building standards and has committed to such green building initiatives for all future build-outs. The result is a huge increase in the percentage of Salesforce.com’s building portfolio that meets LEED standards — up from 21 percent in FY2013 to 38 percent in FY2014. Meanwhile the company has steadily increased the amount of green energy used to power its data centers — a nudge upward from 17 percent to 19 percent between FY2013 and FY2014. Over the past year Salesforce.com committed to purchasing renewable energy credits (RECS), at a total of 15 million kilowatt hours, to compensate for 15 percent of the company’s overall energy consumption.

Furthermore, the company claims its cloud-computing networks’ architecture provides far more energy and carbon efficiency than other information technology platforms. As a result, while the company’s carbon footprint has increased because of its overall growth, Salesforce.com says its customers’ average emitted carbon per transaction has stayed flat, at 0.07 grams during both FY2013 and FY2014.

For more information on Salesforce.com’s FY2014 report, which includes many anecdotes about the company’s approach towards business and GRI index, the report in full can be viewed here.

Image credit: Salesforce.com

Leon Kaye has lived in Abu Dhabi for the past year and is currently spending some time in Uruguay. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Other thoughts of his are on his site, greengopost.com.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye

More stories from Leadership & Transparency