Collaborative Culture for Sustainability: A Conversation with CEO William Theisen

William Theisen

by | Apr 13, 2023

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Welcome to the second part of my conversation with William Theisen: A Collaborative Culture for Sustainability

William is the CEO of EcoAct North America, an Eviden business.

Catch up on the first part of our discussion here.

JH: How can companies identify key strategies to drive net zero and ensure alignment with decarbonization?

WT: When it comes to setting science-based targets such as reductions, hitting that net zero target, and hitting scope one and two again, it is a little bit easier depending on the company.

In this conversation, I’m going to explore Scope 3 because that is really where we take a dive deep on our advisory team.

Typically, when assessing Scope 3 and working to reduce emissions, it’s not advisable to tackle everything at once. Rather, in the early stages of the journey, it’s important to focus on gathering primary data across the board and taking targeted actions even if you don’t have a complete understanding of the situation. When we do work on Scope 3, we perform a discovery to gauge where the bulk of the emissions are coming from.

But, where we really push companies to go further is getting that primary data. Doing lifecycle assessments to see where the actual hotspots are and where they can actually make the most impact in terms of emission reductions because it may not be where you think it is.

When it comes to science, I was thinking about this a little bit, for our conversation. With science-based targets – Yes, you want to address those big areas. At the same time, we do sometimes recommend that companies pick an area to include within their science-based targets and their reductions in scope three that resonate with their employees. This may not be the biggest driver, but it gathers bottom-up buy-in, engagement, and awareness throughout the company. So, yes, let’s tackle the big things but why not include some real focus on things that resonate and get buy-in throughout the company?

JH: This is so important for establishing a collaborative culture. One where all stakeholders within the industry, within your organization, feel like they are really a part of the company and their voice matters. Which in turn will lead to more productivity and less turnover.

WT: That’s a huge thing, right? The other challenge that we’ve seen companies face is like they’ll say, ‘We’re doing Scope 3. We’re going to get all the data that you want, and then share it with operations, with department heads

Yes, we want this data, but companies are not taking them on the journey.

Why are we asking for this data? What does it mean and how is this going to evolve? How is your role going to evolve? Companies have a real opportunity to demonstrate there’s some greater meaning and innovation behind this.

They’re much more willing to get involved and get you the right data from the start. Having that bigger picture, even when you’re in the data collection phase is really important.

JH: I can definitely see that. With Scope 3 emissions, obviously, there is a lot of work done with third-party verification and validation. Your scope three data cannot be correct unless your supplier’s three data is accurate. We know from studies that the data might not be wrong but it may be input into the system wrong. Or simply, the measurements are just completely off. So how do you help companies overcome these obstacles?

WT: For larger organizations and companies, encouraging our suppliers to measure Scope 1-3 data and set science-based targets. Understanding the importance of having a bigger picture in mind and allowing suppliers to participate and innovate themselves to get ready for the future. We don’t just want to ask for information from the top down but rather take a collaborative approach and understand what’s possible on their side. Through this supplier engagement, we’re able to progress together on this journey toward sustainability.

How can you refine that data better? How can we share that knowledge within our supply chain?

**Editor’s note: Certain statements were edited for clarity after the interview transcription**

How does the SEC play a role in William’s work? Find out during part three of my conversation.

EcoAct & William Theisen

EcoAct, an Eviden business, is a sustainability consulting firm that helps companies and organizations reduce their environmental impact and manage climate risk. The company employs more than 300 experts to address all climate, carbon, and energy challenges. Providing services such as carbon footprint assessments, sustainability strategy development, and climate change scenario analysis. EcoAct works with clients across a range of industries to develop and implement sustainability initiatives that align with their business goals and values. An international network of “EcoActors” across 9 regions: France, UK, Spain, USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Kenya.

William leads a team of experts supporting Global and Fortune 500 companies to develop and implement net-zero strategies. This includes managing projects for the private sector at any stage of their sustainability journey, including assessing emissions both direct and throughout the supply chain, setting and creating roadmaps for Science Based Targets (short-term and net-zero), climate scenario analysis, and alignment with reporting frameworks and guidelines (CDP, TCFD, SASB).

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