Cultivating Citizen Philanthropists with Nicola Acutt of VMware

August 15, 2023

Nicola J. Acutt, Ph.D., is Vice President, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in the Office of the CTO for VMware, a global leader in cloud computing and virtualization technology. Nicola is a change maker, thought leader, and strategist whose leadership experience spans business, government, and nonprofits. She is responsible for sustainability across operations, product, and people, and is passionate about a business-focused approach to corporate sustainability strategy.

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John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian and I’m so excited to have with us today, Nicola Acutt. She’s the Vice President of Environmental, Social and Government, ESG at VMware. Welcome, Nicola, to the Impact Podcast.

Nicola Acutt: Hello, John, and hello to everyone joining us. Thrilled to be here with you today.

John: Well, we’re thrilled to have you. This is going to be a really fun and exciting conversation about all the important things you and your colleagues are doing at VMware. Nicola, let’s start, though. I usually like to start this with the Nicola Acutt story. Where did you grow up and how did you even get any interest in the environment and making the world a better place?

Nicola: Oh, I love that question to get us started. Well, John, I consider myself a global citizen. I was born in South Africa. I grew up on a farm outside of Johannesburg and went to school in Johannesburg. And I made my way to America at the tender age of 18 to go to university. So I came to California. I got my undergraduate degree in environmental science, or at the time it was called conservation and natural resource studies, at the University of California. And then from there, I went back home. This was now once Mandela had become president. I joined a small organization that was doing environmental sustainability policy consulting for the new government, which was really an incredible opportunity to be sort of dropped into an amazing transformative moment in the country’s history and to be part of rewriting policy for a more sustainable and equitable use of resources. So, a very interesting part of my journey. From there, I went on, I won a Commonwealth scholarship to the UK. And so, the next part of that global citizen piece of my story was doing graduate work in England, focused on sustainability in business. From there, I became a postdoc and then realized that my path was not academia and I joined a startup, which, long story, brought me back to California and ultimately to the role I do today at VMware.

John: Well, that’s wonderful. Let’s start at VMware. In 2010, you joined the company, but it was in a different position. Can you share a little bit about joining, what you were brought on originally, and how that evolved over the years?

Nicola: Oh, sure. Well, I joined VMware out of academia. I was teaching at the Presidio Graduate School, which was a startup that grew very quickly from 30 students to, at the time, I think it was over 200 students, and teaching MBAs about how to integrate sustainability into business thinking. From there, I joined VMware, and I was recruited initially to launch VMware’s foundation and our corporate social responsibility programs, which I did. I talk about my career at VMware as having three lives. And that was the first one, was really all about building on the company’s values and integrating a mindset of giving more than we take, of giving back into the employee experience. That was an amazing journey and an opportunity to think about philanthropy in a completely different way. So we kind of turned the traditional model upside down and really built around creating a culture of service and giving back.

John: Well, I want to point out something to our listeners and viewers. VMware has 18,000 or so employees?

Nicola: Actually 35,000.

John: 35,000. I mean, oh, my gosh, okay. My information was about half wrong. So 35,000 employees around the world. Wait a second. One of the great terms that I saw when I was reading about you and about VMware is that you took your employees and gave them agency to be citizen philanthropists. Explain what you meant and what was your… I mean, that’s beautiful terminology. What was your real goal in terming it that, and how has that evolved in the 13 years from… Now you have 35,000 ambassadors who are citizen philanthropists. Explain all that to me.

Nicola: Absolutely. The essence of that, John, is this belief that everyone, every human, no matter what our background, our experience, we all have something that we care about, that we’re passionate about. When I first started the job at VMware, I spoke to a lot of employees trying to figure out what is that one thing that we should focus our corporate philanthropy on? The answer I got back was, there is no one thing. Everyone cares about something differently. And that was like this epiphany for me, this moment where I realized, you know what we all have in common as humans? We all care. We all care about something in our communities, in our world, and that there is this kind of fundamental idea of reciprocity. You talk to people in different countries and it shows up in different ways, but it’s basically the same thing. And so that’s where this idea came from, that wait a second, why don’t we make our philanthropy, our foundation about empowering that employee as a citizen in their community, and give them the tools and the support and the platform to voice their values and to give back in their community in a way that makes sense to them and a way that’s meaningful to them. That’s the common denominator. I’m a past academic, so I love language and I love etymology, but if you look at the word philanthropy, it’s actually core meaning, it’s the love of humankind.

John: Wow.

Nicola: And so that’s where, when we put this together, citizen plus philanthropy is that, as employees, we are citizens in our communities. And when you think about philanthropy, it’s in essence about caring about our fellow humans, about humanity, and that love. People don’t like to talk about love in a corporate environment, but that’s what it’s really all about.

John: Right. You know, it’s so funny, we started this company about 20 years ago, and over our front door, we put Dr. Martin Luther King III’s statement that everyone can be great because everyone can serve. And it’s the same concept that you have. I just love the idea of citizen philanthropists. I think it’s just brilliant and it just really gives a platform to all of your 35,000 employees around the world. Talk a little bit about the evolution though. You were doing that, that was obviously massively succeeding. When did that role shift into an ESG-related sustainability role that is more familiar with your title now, Vice President of Environmental, Social and Governments?

Nicola: Sure, John. I think it’s one of the things that I really appreciate about VMware, and that is the opportunity to build and grow your career. I’m a living testament to that. I’ve been at the company now 13 or so years. And I’ve had more opportunities to grow. And so I was encouraged by my leadership and our head of HR to take on a stretch assignment, and I did. That was really about connecting my background and my passions around sustainability to what was going on at the company. So it was triggered. Interestingly, for folks who are listening to this podcast, who are interested in sustainability, the conversation really started with a letter that our board of directors and our chairman received from the Carbon Disclosure Project, and that was about disclosing VMware’s carbon emissions. This letter kind of made its way around the company and it eventually landed on the head of IR’s desk.

And I just happened to sit next to the head of IR. He said to me, “Hey, Nicola, I just got this letter. I have no idea what it means.” I was like, “Oh, I know exactly what that means. Let’s talk about it.” And that led to this project, which was supported by our head of HR, who I was reporting to at the time. I went on a journey to discover what sustainability might be and look like for VMware. So in essence, that kicked off the second phase of my career at VMware, which was, in essence, leading up, building the sustainability function. So I did that really in the middle part of my career, created our first sustainability strategy and plan, our 2020 goals. And that was really about operationalizing, getting our house in order, looking at our emissions, creating a baseline report, really getting those initial goals in place. And then the third phase of the journey was then in 2020, when we announced our 2030 goals. I then took on my current role, which was to head up, bring it all together under the environmental, social, and governance elements and build out an ESG office in the office of the CTO. So we can talk about that, maybe if that’s interesting: why put a sustainability and ESG team in R&D, but that was by intention. And so, yeah, that really brings us to where we are today and what’s next.

John: For our listeners and viewers, if you’ve just joined us, we’ve got Nicola Acutt with us. She’s the Vice President of Environmental, Social and Government, better known as ESG at VMware. To find Nicola and her colleagues and all the important and impactful work they’re doing at VMware in ESG, go to www.vmware.com.

One of the fascinating things, and it’s always fun to hear about approaches, is when you’re starting something new, whether it was in sustainability or now in ESG, you have the curse and the blessing. The blessing of the blank page can also feel daunting, and you can feel the weight of the burden. And ESG and even sustainability, when you talk to different chief sustainability officers or chief impact officers or ESG officers like you who sit in your seat, it can be defined narrowly or wide. Where did you start and why? Where was the beginning of taking that blank page and putting the journey forward, and what was your point of reference? Besides all the important work you did, both under the Mandela administration and your academic work, what was your thought process on how to do this the right way?

Nicola: I love that question. It gets to the essence of strategy and how do you formulate a strategy? Because you can’t do everything, you can’t be all things to everyone.

John: No.

Nicola: And so for me, one of the principles of the work that I’ve done is that it needs to be grounded in the business strategy. It needs to be connected. And that has been a journey, frankly. I think a lot of chief sustainability officers… You talk to many of my friends and peers. We’ve been on this journey in companies from being sort of this thing on the side, doing really good and important work, but a little bit siloed from the core business. In 2020, that is when we made the explicit shift from doing great work, getting the company operations in place from a sustainability perspective, to integrating with the business strategy. There was a lot going on right before 2020. So there were a lot of moving pieces. Coming out of the end of 2020, we had that clarity that future has to be where our business and our ESG and sustainability strategy are deeply connected.

That is exactly what we’ve done. So, where we start with that, we look at the landscape, right? We look at all of the environmental, social, and governance issues that are relevant to our business in our sector. That’s number one, right? And plotting those on a, you think about it, your classic strategy map, right? What’s important to the stakeholders? What’s important to the business? Now, added to that, and this is what’s really changing in our world, is this idea of double materiality. So, in addition to looking at the impact that the business has on these environmental social governance issues, we also need to think about the impact of those issues on the business. So from that lens, we’re able to narrow down what is most relevant, where it will have an impact on our business, but where we can also have an outsized impact on some of these issues, given what we do in our sector, right? The services, products, and solutions that we provide in the market. That’s my quick 101 on ESG strategy, because you can’t do it all. You’ve got to get really… cc.

John: Understood. And what I should have done a better job of earlier. So now we talked earlier about 35,000 employees around the world, 13 plus billion dollars in revenue. Let’s talk about the business strategy first. VMware does what? What’s the core goals and mission of VMware? Before we lay over the ESG sustainability strategy into that, which like you said is now deeply integrated.

Nicola: Great. John, I’m going to talk about what VMware does in ways that I talk to my family and friends because cc. many people may vaguely have heard the company, but don’t realize that VMware is one of the biggest software companies that’s had an enormous impact on the world and is a foundational set of solutions and technologies for our digital future.

John: Perfect.

Nicola: So, in essence, VMware is about providing multi-cloud services for all applications. And that is critical to underpinning digital innovation at the enterprise scale with enterprise controls. So the analogy I make is that the first, second, and third industrial revolution was really about building the physical infrastructure for our economy and our world. What VMware does is fundamental to building the digital infrastructure for our world. So think about it that way. We are all about that digital infrastructure that’s critical to the future.

John: The Internet of Things. So you’re the backbone of the Internet of Things.

Nicola: We are part of that backbone. We are very much part of what makes digitization possible.

John: Got it. So now you take your ESG strategy and you integrate it in and you make it part of the core business model. Talk about what you decided, because like you said, you can’t do everything and be everything to everybody, because otherwise you’ll be nothing to nobody. What did you choose with your team to make the first set of goals in terms of ESG and sustainability strategy at VMware?

Nicola: In short, John, it’s really about building a secure, sustainable, and equitable digital future. So what we do as a company is part and parcel, right? We believe, this is our belief, that the multi-cloud future, which is going to enable digital innovation, has to be done in a way that is sustainable, equitable, and secure. Those are the three key outcomes, if you like, of our sustainability ESG strategy. Think about it as VMware, what we do in the business, plus those three outcomes of sustainability and what we mean there is about, obviously, our own operations, like decarbonizing our own operations, but most importantly, supporting and helping accelerate the decarbonization of our customers’ infrastructure. So that’s number one. Number two about equity is really about building a digital future that is accessible and distributed and providing the technology to enable that future. And then of course, critically important is that we earn trust through our being transparent in what we’re doing, but most importantly in our backend, the security element. So enabling greater security in this digital infrastructure.

John: Security. We’re going to work it backwards here. So from a security perspective, there’s been arguments, and I’ve heard arguments from people who are in your position in terms of chief ESG officers, chief impact officers, that security in one sense goes back to the macro trend of cybersecurity. And so there’s a great argument that cybersecurity is very elemental and also critical to the sustainability of any corporation at this point, and also any sustainability strategy. So does security mean in terms of data security with regards to your own company VMware and your clients, or is it something more or less, or am I missing the mark there?

Nicola: No, I think you’re pointing to a really important idea. And I do believe that increasingly security, cyber security, cyber risk is going to be a critical part of the ESG agenda because it’s essence about trust, right? And so that scope is wide, and again, it’ll depend on your business and the nature of your business. For us, the way that we define it is both security and data privacy by design. So thinking about how we’re responsible as a responsible corporate citizen, how we’re responsible for data, for information about our employees, our customers, our stakeholders, et cetera. And then because we are a software provider, it’s about the security of our products. So ensuring that trust with our customers and our partners in our core products and our core offerings. So it actually goes hand in hand, those two things for us. So when we talk about a secure digital future, we’re talking about both the responsibility element of data and data privacy, but we’re also talking about cyber resilience and cyber security through our products and services for our customers.

John: Understood. Then go back to sustainability. You talked about decarbonization, the decarbonization of VMware, and does that also consider not only your scope one, but does that also figure into scope two and three? And then conversely, you mentioned that you help your clients decarbonize. So it’s also part on the forward side of it’s a sales tool in terms of helping your clients best learn how to decarbonize.

Nicola: Yes, John. So exactly. It’s comprehensive. In all of these areas are three are three outcomes. So on the sustainability element, it’s number one, walking the talk. Right? We’ve made a commitment to net zero and we are on our journey to address… You know, we’ve set science-based targets to guide us along this journey for our scope one, scope two, and scope three. So it’s the full value chain. And those are cc. tough, ambitious goals.

John: Got it. Not easy.

Nicola: Not easy. We have committed to them and we’re working our way through and we’ve set interim goals. So that’s the operational side. I think about it as our house. Then there is our customers’ house. That to me is the tip of the spear in terms of innovation. And it’s a huge opportunity, well beyond marketing and messaging, to actually help our customers meaningfully start to decarbonize their digital innovation. So one thing that people maybe miss about VMware is our legacy and our history is built on enabling massive efficiency for our customers in their data center. Our company was born through the innovation of the x86 server, which again, just quickly for folks who are not familiar with the history, IT history, that was a fundamental innovation that enabled those massive server rooms where each application had its own dedicated box. You remember those days, John?

John: Right. Racks of boxes, racks and racks.

Nicola: As far as you can see, right? The horrible secret in all of that is that those servers were running at best sometimes on 20% of their capacity. So you had this massive unused capacity and what virtualization, what VMware did with our software, was enabled a huge consolidation. So instead of having to have 70 servers, you only needed to have 20 or 30 to do the same work. So you think about all that embodied carbon and the energy that was saved as a result of virtualization. That’s our legacy. Our legacy is a sustainability legacy. But now today, 20 plus years later, this is about the next phase. How do we build on that legacy? We’ve done a lot of work to enable transparency for our customers to see how much energy their infrastructure is actually using to now how do we decouple, compute, and the demand for energy, and compute with growth and all of the amazing things that technology can do. That is what our decarbonization strategy is all about. And we’ve got four key components of that that we’re working on with our R&D teams.

John: Is that what your clients and customers are most excited about?

Nicola: I think a combination, right? I think there’s two things. One is as the world changes around us, maybe we can talk about the Brussels effect, there is increasing pressure and expectations on all of our customers to be more transparent and report their emissions across their enterprises, including IT. So we are absolutely getting a lot of questions from our customers and are responding by being able to provide this transparency through our tools and technology into their use and their infrastructure. So that’s number one. On the other hand, they are absolutely looking for solutions and looking to VMware to be that partner of choice to help them build a sustainable multi-cloud solution. So yes, that is what customers are looking for. That is, I think, again, the huge opportunity and the tip of the spear in terms of innovation. And all of our customers… I mean, that’s the name of the game, right, is to innovate and to be increasingly competitive.

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John: Got it. With regards to, talk about the Brussels effect. I call it the Larry Fink effect but they’re bookends to the same library. So, please, share what your thoughts are about the Brussels effect, because that’s very important, because you’re a sustainability, the way I look at it, OG. You’ve been doing this a long time. You’ve seen the evolution. You’ve seen the fits and the starts. You’ve seen the ebb and flow of this thing. And now it seems as though, as you’re about to lay out for us on the Brussels effect, that it’s an unstoppable and undeniable trend, the shift from the go-and-throw linear economy to the circular economy. Its radical transparency is also going to be part of the absolute future of companies that have to report on what they’re really doing, and that big financial institutions, i.e. Larry Fink, BlackRock and now others, not only in the United States, but obviously around the world, are now going to vote with their pocketbooks as to how well people are really traversing this ESG journey. Explain what you mean by the Brussels effect. I’m fascinated by that.

Nicola: It’s a really interesting time, John, and I think a lot of what you said, right, we’ve gone through fits and starts. Where we are today is I think an outcome of many factors coming into play, both economic, financial, sociopolitical. What we’re seeing happen is, I think, ultimately the recognition that these huge issues like climate change, yes, they are environmental issues, if you like, but they’re actually economic issues, they’re human issues, and they present an enormous amount of uncertainty and risk. Any business, any CEO will tell you that uncertainty and risk are the things that you want to minimize, right? It really makes doing business more and more challenging when you have increasing uncertainty and risk.

Fundamentally, I think in the in the capital markets, also there’s been this recognition of this misunderstood or hidden impact that the changing climate, and let’s just use climate as one example, many issues in ESG, is going to have on fundamental economics, right? So that’s what’s driving, in my view, this changing mindset, and a recognition that what’s gotten us to where we are today is not sufficient for where we need to go in the future. What I mean by that is you have had over the last 10, 15 years, an explosion of these voluntary frameworks, voluntary reporting guidelines to help stakeholders, the market, get a handle on non-financial risk and opportunity. And it’s a big mess. Any CFO, any Chief Sustainability Officer will tell you one of our biggest headaches is dealing with the alphabet soup of all of these frameworks and ci.. So we need a level playing field and we need a baseline.

And that’s really where regulation comes in. We’re seeing the European Union, in general, moving much faster than other parts of the world to create that level playing field from a regulatory perspective. So there are a series of frameworks that have been ratified, the CSRD, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, being the most eminent, which will come into effect next year, and it will impact a large number of global organizations in Europe. But the trickle down is really where we’re going to see, I think, this shift. And that’s what I mean by the Brussels effect. Setting legislation that basically creates a floor on disclosures. In this case, we’re talking primarily about sustainability, carbon-related disclosures. That’s going to set the global floor. And that’s the Brussels effect that’s going to pull through to other global companies and set the agenda, if you like, for disclosures.

John: Once that’s set, when does the SEC publish their regs then?

Nicola: It’s a little bit of a waiting game. We’re all kind of on tender hooks, waiting to see what happens. Once the SEC puts out their rules, then we will have another set of guidelines. I think again, when you talk to people in my world, all of us are clamoring for, please, please, please, let’s get those baselines to be aligned so that we’re reducing that overhead, from an operational perspective, to meet different expectations.

John: Right. No, you’re exactly right. There’s no reason to have a patchwork quilt of floors and goals. I mean, reconcile them, make it clear, make it understandable and let’s go.

Nicola: Exactly, precisely.

John: You used a word earlier that I love. When you were talking about security, you talked about cyber resilience. So you’re coming from a place… Disavow me if I’m misunderstanding that. Good ESG strategy as a whole makes the company more resilient if it’s done correctly. And that’s one of your goals are at VMware.

Nicola: Absolutely. The way I think about it, John, is that sustainably ESG strategy has two fundamental components. So like I described before, the best, most forward-thinking strategies are grounded in what the company does. What’s your core value proposition? What’s your core unit of value? Understanding that, then overlaying what are the environmental social governance risks to the business and what are the opportunities to the business? The pandemic taught us so much… talk about that.

John: Resilience. Ttalk about resilience.

Nicola: A lesson in resilience, right?

John: Right.

Nicola: So companies who are able to adapt have, frankly, been able to thrive better. I think people kind of get wound up about these words, ESG and sustainability, but it’s fundamentally about risk and opportunity, resilience and long-term value creation.

John: When people come to you and they’re looking to begin their journey and they look to you as a paradigm and a role model, both as a leader, but then as your company that you’ve helped create all the strategy for, and they come to you and they say either it’s too hard or it costs too much money, is your response that you don’t even understand how big the returns really are in terms of resilience and obviously even financial returns. Because so many times people or organizations seem historically afraid to take that first step. So your mantra is you gotta just get going here and you’ll see the benefits if you do this right?

Nicola: Yeah. Again, I go back to the business. I go back to what’s important to your business. Do you want to have a long term viable strategy? And the answer is, of course, yes. My advice is I do think it is complex and there’s a lot of jargon. Unfortunately, there’s too much jargon. Let’s not overcomplicate it. Let’s just get really clear about what are the things, what are those social environmental issues that are relevant to your business that could… Again, whether you’re talking about making shoes and widgets, or you’re talking about digital technology. Our businesses are not islands. They don’t exist in an island. They exist in our social environment and the ecology around us, right? Just a great example is the water shortages in California. Who would have thought maybe 10 years ago that water, resilience, water would be a threat to business? Who would have thought wildfires would have closed your business because the smoke was so bad that employees would have to send people home? Kids were sent home from school. Who would have thought?

John: Nobody.

Nicola: So to me, it’s about thinking about your business in the context of a changing environmental and social environment. And so it’s really not about all of these… I think people get overwhelmed quickly with all of the issues and the challenges. So it’s about just focusing on what matters to your business.

John: You’ve been doing this so long, and you have such great visibility on what’s coming and what’s already been. Talk a little bit about two things, Nicola. One thing is, what headwinds do you see ahead of us, in terms of what keeps you up at night right now in terms of worrying about certain things that you see that you’re not really clear on what their outcomes could be? And what tailwinds do you see also? What are you excited about? What gets you out of bed in the morning after you’ve been kept up by the headwinds?

Nicola: So, we’ll start with the monster under the bed?

John: Yes, let’s start there.

Nicola: Gosh, I think something that folks in my world who do this work for a living, we’ve become really pretty tough-minded because I don’t think you can do this work. There are so many things to be concerned about, but then I always go back to… so we’ll talk about the opportunity in a second. I think that the headwinds are certainly… I get very concerned about the politicization of sustainability in ESG. I think that that it’s a red herring, right? It’s not understanding the fundamentals of how the changing economics, changing business environment… I think that is the potential to slow down progress, keep me up at night. I think the challenges and dealing with multiple challenges at the same time… Since the pandemic, we’ve had seven global crises, right? It seems like one thing after the other. So, I do get concerned about that kind of whiplash effect. And you see that in businesses. You see leaders bouncing from one thing to the next.

John: Sure.

Nicola: I work in tech and I see technology as an enabler and as a positive tool for improving lives. But I do also sometimes have the monster under the bed, like with AI and the rate of change, the rate at which we can keep up. But then I kind of look under the bed and I grab that monster and I throw it out the window.

John: Good, I like that.

Nicola: Look at, okay, what are the tailwinds, right? What is the wind behind our sails? We’ve talked about the Brussels effect. I think that ultimately is definitely about the minimum, so it’s not necessarily about what is great and good, but we need it, and I embrace it fully. But to me, at the end of the day, the tailwind is the indomitable spirit of innovation that I think humans have. When I look at some of the technologies that are being developed, I think about the great possibilities in tackling some of the biggest challenges of our time and the opportunity to create new forms of wealth, to create a more just transition. That’s what gets me out of bed every day. Being part of what’s next, being part of the next story in human evolution, and saving our planet in the process. That, to me, is exciting and why I keep doing the work I do every day, in and out.

John: I so agree with you, and I love that. What are your goals? I mean, not specifically speaking, but when you’re decarbonizing VMware, how far in advance, what’s the year, what’s the benchmark year that you’re creating inside the company to get everybody aligned working towards? Is it 2030, is it 2025, or somewhere further out?

Nicola: Our strategy and approach is informed by all of… We’re informed by the science. We’re informed by the IPCC and the Paris Agreement and the targets for mid-century decarbonization. What we’ve done is we’ve chunked that up. I think that’s actually another important thing about strategy. We can’t do it all at once. And that we’re in a transition. Changing our mindset in business to think more long-term, think beyond the quarter, is a huge piece of practical work. So we’ve chunked it up. We have set our interim targets. We’ve got a 2030 goal, and then we’ve broken that up, aligned with our science-based targets. So we have a 2025 goal for scope three emissions. To me, it’s about having these milestones along the way, because I think people in our roles… there’s a challenge between talking about a goal that’s so far out that most people kind of roll their eyes and go like, yeah, I’m going to be retired or my kids are going to be… It’s too far of a horizon. So, we gotta bring that back and work on practical outcomes in a shorter-term horizon as well. So that’s a long answer to saying we think long-term, we have long-term alliance targets, but we have short-term goals.

John: What part of the year do you publish your ESG report every year?

Nicola: That’s an interesting question. Ours is about to come out. In the next couple of weeks, we will be issuing our report. I think this is an area for innovation, frankly, is sustainability reporting and ci.. Most of us have a retrospective. We look back on the previous years and one of the barriers to more real-time reporting is data and real-time data. For VMware, we have a financial year that doesn’t match the calendar year, so that adds another level of complexity. As these tools get better and we’re able to operationalize better real-time reporting, we see that timeline moving forward. Ultimately, the goal is that our sustainability reporting and our financial reporting is completely integrated. So we actually have that as one of our long-term goals. But it’s going to be a journey because the types of data that you publish in a sustainability ESG report are very different to what goes into your annual financial report. And so there’s going to be a bridge to build between where we want to be and where we are today.

John: And once it’s published, it comes out, you put it on your website, VMware.com, does it live there?

Nicola: That’s absolutely right.

John: We’ll also put that in our show notes, and we’ll make a link to that as well in our show notes, so everybody who’s listening or watching this podcast will also have the opportunity to, of course, review it and enjoy it and see it as the great work you’re doing. What’s next? What’s coming up next for you? What are you really excited about in the next year or so? We’ve talked a lot about the tailwinds and the headwinds. Anything specific you want to talk about or promote before we sign off for today’s episode?

Nicola: As I said, I’m an optimist and I believe in innovation. I’m excited about really deepening the work that we’ve started, to build sustainability into R&D as a first-class metric, along with quality and security. We’ve got a product and sustainability roadmap, and I’m really excited about building on some of the product launches that we’ve done. For example, ARIA Operations, our management suite, being able to provide customers with more real-time data on their impact. I think the second thing I’m really excited about is our partnerships with our partners around Renewable Energy Data Center. We have an initiative called Zero Carbon Committed. And to date, we added 24 new partners this year, bringing it up to 50. And our goal is to have all of our partners join this coalition, which is really around enabling more data centers to run on renewable energy.

John: That’s wonderful.

Nicola: So I’d say those are the two things that I’m super excited about. And continuing to build this vision in partnership with others, where our digital future is a future that’s sustainable, equitable, and secure.

John: Well, as you and I both have learned along the way, ESG, sustainability, it’s all a journey. And so we were so thankful that you spent time with us today, Nicola. We hope you come back one day and share a continued vision of your ongoing journey at VMware. For our listeners and viewers, to find Nicola and the other 35,000 citizen philanthropists at VMware and all the important and impactful work they are doing in sustainability and ESG, please go to www.vmware.com. Thank you, Nicola, for not only making the world a better and more equitable place but thank you for making the impact that you’ve made today on the Impact Podcast.

Nicola: It’s my absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me, John.

John: This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closedlooppartners.com.

John: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.