16. December 2022
Julia Kriegel

Our Highlights
­from 2022

2022 – A year in which a lot happened in terms of sustainability – not only internally at VAST FORWARD, but also externally.

In this blog article, we would like to review this eventful year and above all, look back at the highlights.

It’s all about the Team

When we started our sustainability journey in 2020, there was no legislation passed by the German government or the European Union that required companies to integrate sustainability into their daily business. Even today, there is still no binding or legal framework for companies of our size.

Nevertheless, a lot has happened around the topic of sustainability in 2022, or at least it seems that way. On the one hand, things have become more concrete around the sustainability reporting obligation, the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, read more about the CSRD here https://www.csr-berichtspflicht.de/csrd). This means for many companies (in Germany mainly SMEs) that they will have to deal with sustainability reporting in the near future. This is because the CSRD specifies, among other things, which companies must report on their sustainability strategy, the EU’s six environmental goals (more on EU taxonomy and the 6 key points here EU Taxonomie Info).

Nevertheless: for SMEs of our size, even at the end of 2022, there is still no standardized approach on how sustainability can or must be integrated into a company. That’s why we are going our own way with VAST GREEN, our sustainability strategy that we developed in 2021 together with Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bärtl. There was no blueprint, no method, so we pursued our goals as an entire core team in sprints using a process we developed ourselves, our “framework.”

Today, we are a well-coordinated team not only in our project management processes, but also in the joint implementation of our sustainability strategy.

And that’s exactly our first highlight: continuing to work on our sustainability initiative as a team with joy and ambition!

Make it sustainable,
but not alone!

VAST GREEN represents our transformation and our measurable, long-term contribution to a more sustainable future.

Our efforts are reflected in a steep learning curve for the entire VAST FORWARD team, personally and professionally. Our overarching goal here is also to support the transformation of the digital industry. And in our process, we have learned: we can only sustain our development as an organization if we engage our stakeholders, our extended supply chain, who have a direct impact on our day-to-day business and our corporate sustainability.

And so, for us, the past year was, on the one hand, highlighted by our stakeholder engagement, and on the other hand, it was marked by their integration into our sustainability initiative.

With the support of Andrea Otto, our supply chain working group developed the basis for our “partner approach”: a questionnaire in which we asked our network and our business partners critical questions about sustainability in their companies. A summary is available in our Impact Report:https://impact.vast-forward.com/netzwerk-analyse/

Besides the partner approach and the integration of the network into our sustainability initiative, our Developer Day https://vastdevday.com/in Dresden was a real highlight.

Many of our developers gave us feedback that our survey inspired them to rethink processes in their professional environment – our second highlight in 2022!

Do good,
and talk about it

For us, transparency is one of the most important aspects in terms of our sustainability initiative VAST GREEN. We’ve shared our sustainability journey transparently via our VAST GREEN blog from the very beginning: from the journey of our OKR-based strategy, to the building of our project framework, from the many deliverables of the working groups in the sprints, to our celebration rituals for the team’s successes.

We are therefore super happy with the rapid development of our VAST GREEN blog and our ‘Sustainable Fridays’! Week after week, the team puts energy, enthusiasm and time into creating new blog posts and their respective research and preparations for the ‘Sustainable Fridays’. And we are incredibly proud and happy that the blog and our ‘Sustainable Fridays’ are so well received!

Our new podcast, ‘Viertel Eins’ in which we also share our sustainability journey as an audio format, has also received a lot of positive feedback so far, which of course makes us very happy.

And we try to create comparability whenever possible – especially important in our current sustainability report, which we have outlined according to the GRI guidelines. It summarizes our key environmental, social and economic performance and already meets the European reporting standard.

Overall, openly sharing our efforts, taking as many people as possible along with us on our journey, is definitely a real highlight of our initiative!

ESG Compliance

Even though we are striving for real change with our sustainability initiative VAST GREEN, there are areas in our day-to-day work that we cannot influence. In addition, there are of course emissions that we have to compensate for despite all our efforts.

A key goal for 2022 was to identify and measure our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and then reduce our corporate carbon footprint and offset where change is not enough – or not yet possible.

We can only do that if we work with a partner to benefit from experience and find trustworthy ways to offset without greenwashing. So we set out to find one. What we first thought was a rather simple task turned into quite a struggle, as there are many “green consultancies” on the market that promise app- or tech-based help for companies on their way to greater sustainability.

So it came as quite a surprise when, on closer inspection, most of the sustainability consultancies followed a superficial scheme using the same criteria for every company for the emissions calculations.

It quickly became obvious that the business model was to sell certificates, if possible, as a subscription model.

Of course, this was neither convincing nor suitable for our goals, and it took some detours to finally find our partner.

So, our highlight in terms of consulting and compensation: “Spenoki”/ “Code Gaia”! They enable a transparent calculation of emissions and help us to optimize our sustainability management in the future!

Also important: After our corporate ‘footprint’ was calculated, we decided in September 2022 to realize our necessary CO2 compensation with “Planted”. Since then, every month the private and business emissions of our entire team are offset via global climate protection projects, in addition we support the planting of climate-stable mixed forests in Germany. While this doesn’t reduce our emissions, it helps shape Germany for a more sustainable future.

Do it right,
and get it validated

Since Maren founded VAST FORWARD, the core project management team has been exclusively female. And as an all-female PM core team, in an industry dominated by men, we see diversity as a core value.

We go into more detail here in the blog post  – so just a quick overview: We have signed the ‘Diversity Charter’ and the ‘Ad Girl Manifest’, making us part of a network of companies and organizations committed to making the workplace a more diverse place.

Since August 2022, we have also been a partner of the ‘Hamburg Environmental Partnership’, where we contribute to environmental and climate protection as an active partner of the network.

For us, these certifications are another highlight, and we are proud of what we achieved in 2022.

Now we look forward to another “greener” year full of change and positive contributions in this global climate crisis. We continue to work towards ambitious goals – and while we won’t save the world alone: We can all contribute to a better world.

– We Do Not Just Compensate!