The 2021 C K Prahalad Award for Global Business Sustainability Leadership goes to four leaders at Microsoft and to Douglas M. Baker Jr., Board Chairman and former CEO of Ecolab. The award curated by Corporate Eco Forum recognizes winners for exemplifying the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation and long-term business success in a globalizing world.
The award is given for two categories: collaborative leadership by an executive team to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, President and Vice Chair Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and Chief Environment Officer Lucas Joppa. and leadership by an individual executive to Ecolab Chairman and former CEO, Douglas M. Baker, Jr.
The awards were announced at the 2021 CEF Annual Leadership Retreat, attended by senior executives representing CEF member companies with combined revenues of $4 trillion.
CEF founder MR Rangaswami, a good friend of late Prof. CK Prahalad, explained what set the team’s approach apart: “Nadella, Hood, Smith and Joppa have exhibited a remarkable level of joint ownership of this moonshot initiative – this is the first time we’ve seen a CEO/President/CFO/Environmental Sustainability coalition like this. They’ve defined a new model for what corporate-wide climate leadership looks like while sending a clear message that sustainability is core to Microsoft’s business strategy for the decades ahead.”
CEF is an invitation-only network of leading executives from Fortune and Global 500 companies driving sustainability strategy and innovation worldwide.
With this team at the helm, a CEF press note stated that Microsoft is moving aggressively to advance its vision to make a positive impact globally on the climate, while proving that such steps can also be good for business.
By 2025, Microsoft wishes to shift to 100% renewable energy for its data centers, buildings, and campuses, and protect more land than its operations use. By 2030, it hopes it can match 100% of its electricity consumption, 100% of the time, with zero-carbon energy purchases – and push beyond that to actually become carbon negative. Their approach is holistic, connecting the dots to other aspects of planetary health – including a commitment to replenish more water than the company uses – a goal known as “water positive” – and a pledge to achieve zero waste for its direct operations, products and packaging.
The team has led Microsoft to look beyond the company’s own walls to create the enabling environment for change at scale. The company has set up a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to help accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.
It is also building a Planetary Computer platform to help monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems. Beyond that, Microsoft has co-founded a new Green Software Foundation to help reduce emissions within the software industry by 45% by 2030, working with co-founders Accenture, GitHub, and ThoughtWorks to develop new standards, tools, and leading practices.