The risks and rewards of multi-site certification
As a multinational that takes climate change and the environment seriously, we decided recently at Atos that there would be no better way of walking the walk than by certifying all our main sites for the ISO 14001 environmental management standard in just one process.
After all, our company has taken a multi-site approach when it comes to other certifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 27001 and ISO 20000 so why not also do it for the environmental management standard?
We looked closely at the challenges. Multi-site certification entails major organizational challenges, pressures and risks. It is not easy to coordinate the certification process across so many sites. It seems that these types of concerns are affecting many large companies who decide not to take on these risks and continue to certify on a site by site basis.
But when it comes to climate performance and sustainability, Atos is an acknowledged leader in the IT sector. We have set ambitious targets for the future and we are determined to do all we can to take leadership and demonstrate the value of best practices. We decided that with multi-site certification, we can give our stakeholders additional confidence that we are committed to excellence across Atos, that we can enhance our performance, and that we can conserve valuable resources.
As part of its 2019 Ambition, Atos is committed to certifying 80% of its strategic data centers and qualifying sites with more than 500 internal employees for ISO 14001.
For Atos, ISO 14001 is a key operational tool for achieving our environmental goals. Certification covers a wide range of environmental issues, including carbon emissions, energy consumption, travel impacts, waste and recycling management, water conservation and employee awareness.
Since the launch of our global multi-site certification process in early 2017, we have made good progress towards our target. Already, we have 135 offices and data centers certified under the standard. Of those sites, 90 of them achieved certification as part of the multi-site process, including our headquarters at Bezons in France. Progressively, we are also onboarding new sites into the process.
However, the multi-site process can be laborious. We have to make sure that all our sites are ready for an audit. Twice a year, the external auditors make an audit of samples of the sites that we declare as ready. If there is a problem in just one site, we risk losing our global certification.
It’s good to talk
Based on our experience over the past year I would say that communications are key to the success of a multi-site certification program. At Atos we have an EMS (environmental management system) that works at the group level, at country level, and at site level. All three levels have to be aligned.
We implement top-down and down-top communications to discuss our certification program with our sites and to account for major local specificities. We meet regularly and we formalize points very carefully, so that everyone involved can show that they are doing what they said they were going to do. For example, each site needs to clearly demonstrate how they contribute to optimize energy consumption, minimize travel impacts and contribute to our CO2 targets.
As part of the certification process for the 2015 version of ISO 14001, we are also raising global awareness across Atos. We have built an eLearning module which we are progressively rolling out across our operations in 70+ countries, starting in English and then in French, German, Spanish and other languages.
Having now embarked in this direction, I believe companies that continue to certify on a site-by-site basis are missing out on the chance to show their stakeholders that they have a clear and consistent commitment to reducing environmental risks across their organization.
Pursuing multi-site certification is not easy, but it does create value. On top of the environmental and business benefits, there are also operational and financial synergies. We are saving money as we share ideas, documents, action plans, resources, manpower and so on.
As good corporate citizens, we would encourage all other large companies to rise to the challenge of environmental multi-site certification.