Alfa and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
In the summer of 2022, we carried out a comprehensive review of how we can continue to align with and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, having originally adopted the goals back in 2019.
As part of this, we held workshops and assessed how relevant each SDG was to Alfa in terms of our current business objectives, the challenges we face, and our ability to have an impact. ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) activities are part of daily life at Alfa - colleagues really do get involved because they want to, not because they have to! Aligning with the UN SDGs helps us focus our efforts and work towards common successes.
We decided to align with five core SDGs, listed below. Although these are five separate goals, there is a lot of intersectionality between them and we hope to foster initiatives which support multiple goals. This is not to say that the other SDGs aren't important to us, rather that we want to make a more conscious effort to support the goals which are most relevant to us as an organisation, whilst continuing to support the others where we can.
Goal 5: Gender Equality
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
What are we doing to shake up the gender split in a traditionally male-dominated sector?
- Alfa's Women's Community. Our Women's Community was launched with a mission to 'foster a progressive environment with equal representation of women by providing a support network of allies to encourage gender diversity, in Alfa and across the industry'. The community has hosted some fantastic events, including a session on allyship at our recent EMEA Company Conference, and are working together to promote gender equality within Alfa. A current initiative is looking to build on our existing mentoring scheme, looking to support the development of women into positions of leadership and providing more role models for women in the workplace.
- Focus on Recruitment. Throughout the year, we sponsor recruitment events such as Bright Network’s Women in Tech and Women in STEM events.
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
How can we open our doors more widely to more diverse groups, and encourage creativity and brilliant ideas in our work?
- Alfa Work Experience programme. Championed by the Alfa for Racial Equity Community, Alfa recently launched its first Work Experience programme in EMEA, in partnership with upReach. The feedback we've had from the students who participated has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to seeing applications come in for our graduate scheme in due course.
- Continued focus on innovation. Alfa hosts a regular schedule of innovation days every year for employees to work on any aspect of Alfa, from product to people. The reality is that it can be difficult to find or make time to work on new ideas, and these afternoons are intended to give staff some preallocated time for this, over and above the normal innovation process.
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries.
What are we doing to share our expertise and use our privilege to help others?
- Code Your Future volunteering. Alfa's volunteering scheme has provided our colleagues with the opportunity to volunteer with Code Your Future, an organisation dedicated to helping refugees and those on low-income start great careers in tech. To read more about one of our employee's personal experiences, see Code Your Future: My volunteering experience.
- Partnership with UpReach. Alfa has an established partnership with UpReach. They work to facilitate programmes for those from less-advantaged backgrounds to access and sustain top graduate jobs. So far, Alfa employees have provided direct support to students in terms of career coaching, mock interviews and more.
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
How are we reducing waste and being more mindful about the way we dispose of our equipment?
- Refill station. 2022 saw the introduction of a "refill station" in our London office, helping to reduce consumption of single-use plastics, allowing our colleagues to bring in containers to refill with commonly used household products including hand soap, washing up liquid and clothes detergent. We're also looking to introduce a similar scheme in the US.
- Laptop recycling and donations. Our Technical Operations team helped us to donate some of our old laptops to local schools during the pandemic. Over the course of the pandemic, technology has been a vital link between home and school, with lessons being delivered live over Zoom, Teams etc. However, remote learning is not available to all pupils and not all pupils had access to the technology to support remote learning. At Alfa, we generally refresh laptops on a three-year cycle. This year we had a number of high-spec laptops of around three years old that were fully depreciated and awaiting disposal. Recycled and fitted with a new hard drive, we were delighted to donate these to local schools. We also partner with KOCycle to support the repurposing of IT assets globally, to help reduce landfill and support a circular economy.
Goal 13: Climate Action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
How are we reducing our negative impact on the planet and tackling the climate crisis?
- Charity Partnership with Climate Coalition. The Climate Coalition was our official charity partner in EMEA for 2021/22 and we engaged in a wide range of events and fundraising activities with them. The Climate Coalition aims to bring people from all walks of life and organisations with different goals together to collectively call for climate action. We plan to continue to engage with the Climate Coalition in the future, even though our official charity partnership has come to an end.
- Net zero transition plan. We are working with EcoAct to produce a plan to reach net zero using a Science-based Targets approach. Once we have reduced our carbon emissions, we will then offset any emissions that we're unable to eliminate completely from our operations.
- Engaging Ecologi. One of our company objectives for 2021 was to reach carbon neutrality as an organisation (an interim solution while we work on the net zero plan referred to above). We looked at various options and eventually worked with Ecologi for credible, impactful offsetting projects to support. Carbon offsetting is only a credible tool when used alongside emissions reduction strategies, which we are beginning to implement where possible.
- Cycle-to-Work scheme. Alfa continues to offer a cycle-to-work scheme, encouraging employees to buy a bicycle (and accessories) to replace their usual modes of transport to work, such as the train. Now that we're back to more regular commuting, the Environmental Impact Team are working towards encouraging more people to cycle - for example, we are now providing free bi-annual bike services at our London office!