Game engine maker Unity published its first annual ESG report last month and has shown good progress – but admits there is a lot more to be done.
When it comes to reporting sustainability efforts today, there is no place to hide. Gone are the days of burying bad news on page 183 of a document which makes War and Peace look like a walk in the park. Corporate reports, investigated forensically by investors but ignored by everyone else, need to appeal to multiple stakeholders – and reporting standards now reflect this.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) noted the ‘overwhelming’ nature of deciding which metrics to use. Should it be CSR (corporate social responsibility)? Or ESG (environmental, social and governance)? Whose standards do we use? The World Economic Forum (WEF), the UN, or someone else?
The most widely used sustainability reporting standard is the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and, as HBR explains, both its scope and audience are broad. Indeed, its influence is such that the WEF International Business Council has mapped its own metrics to GRI standards.
Tim Mohin, who spoke with Sustainable Future News in his role as chief sustainability officer at Persefoni, was previously the CEO of the GRI in Amsterdam. The standards he helped maintain “are coalescing and moving into the mainstream of capital markets,” he explains. “It’s happening all over the world that companies will now have to disclose their climate emissions – in particular, but maybe not exclusively – in their financial statements, which is a huge change.”
One company which dipped its toe in the water for the first time recently was Unity. The company, most famous for creating the leading video game engine for interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content, issued its inaugural ESG report (pdf) for 2021 last month, referring to GRI standards.
“At the core of our ESG strategy are people,” the report explains. “We understand that being merely a responsible company is table stakes. We know that if our people thrive, our business thrives.”
Several of the firm’s highlights were on the social side of the ESG initialism. These included continued monthly wellness allowances for employees, continued provision of 25 free mental health sessions annually for all global employees and immediate family members, and six global wellbeing days.
Unity also contributed significantly on the ‘Environmental’ of ESG. This included conducting the company’s first greenhouse gas emissions inventory across all categories in scopes 1, 2 and 3; committing to net-zero carbon emissions in operations; and implementing a centralised environment health and safety (EHS) management system to track and monitor EHS metrics.
From employees, to creators – developers, in other words – and the wider global community of users, all have said the report has surpassed their expectations. One employee’s verdict, seen by Sustainable Future News, noted how important social impact and ESG had become since Unity became a public company in September 2020.
Jessica Lindl, vice president of social impact at Unity, says she would give the company seven out of 10 for its efforts so far, while recognising there is always more work to do.
“I’m most proud of laying a strong foundation that is deeply embedded in the business, and not a side sustainability project,” Lindl tells Sustainable Future News. “As the global leader of social responsibility and ESG, I worked in close partnership with our other executive leaders to establish ESG-related goals and embedding them in our core business metrics.”
Unity’s four key values are ‘users first’, ‘best ideas win’, ‘in it together’, and ‘go bold.’ It is easy to see how sustainability resonates through each of the wider values of empathy, respect, and opportunity. Lindl further explains that the company’s values ‘inform how we do our jobs and how we treat each other every day, while also helping us make the right decisions for our customers, partners, and collaborators.’
The company’s future plans certainly go beyond table stakes. For 2022, all executive leaders will have ESG-related goals – called ‘purpose goals’ – and will be evaluated as part of executive compensation.
Multiple initiatives are also in the works, as Lindl explains. “At Unity, we have the unique opportunity to focus our knowledge, technology, and grants to empower the creators and change-makers who are reimagining a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future for us all,” says Lindl.
“As part of this work, we want to make Unity education more accessible, create inclusive economic opportunities for underrepresented creators both as Unity employees and in our customer ecosystem, advance RT3D for sustainability so customers use our solutions to decarbonise their business, and maximise the impact that creator work has on communities and the world.”
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