Journey to a better future: Putting sustainability goals into action

Mark Haviland, EVP of Brand Development & Sustainability, Rakuten EMEA

When Mickey Mikitani founded Rakuten in 1997, empowerment was at the heart of his vision. Empowering business owners, employees, families and communities is a passion that persists to this day. Now that passion takes on new meaning, as we face some of the most serious threats to our social and environmental well-being in a generation.

There is a new urgency to address these challenges and make sure the companies we work for secure their own viability by being part of the solution. At Rakuten we can be proud to say that we are well on that journey.

Theory of Change: Always improve, always advance

Mark Haviland, EVP of Brand Development & Sustainability, Rakuten EMEA
Mark Haviland, EVP of Brand Development & Sustainability, Rakuten EMEA

And it is a journey. Perfection is a destination we may perhaps never reach, so we have committed to always improving, always advancing and making sure that we innovate and challenge ourselves to improve what we do for the benefit of all our stakeholders.

Setting goals in the areas that matter most is clearly an important first step, as we have done in joining the RE100, to become 100% renewable by 2025. More goals are in the pipeline, and we have made a series of commitments across a range of issues to create conditions for long-term success with our business and stakeholders.

Getting our teams and partners behind these goals is a critical early step. To this end we have established a theory of change that is designed to give all our colleagues the tools they need to help us down the path to sustainability. In short: We Learn, We act, then We Influence.

Learn, Act, Influence

In learning we see what issues are most relevant to our company, which ones we can have the most impact on and can in turn influence our organizational success. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been our starting point. While every one of the 17 goals are of critical importance, we have prioritized to ensure we focus our energies where we can have the most effect.

Having started the learning curve, we then act. Reducing waste, changing suppliers, drafting policy, distributing guidelines, educating staff. There are so many ways to make forward steps, and each one is part of the continued learning process.

Finally, having built sustainable credibility through stages one and two, we can start to influence our broader stakeholder alliance and help secure not only the viability of our own company, but also support the journey of others in our sector: our clients, merchants and suppliers. This not only helps the cause of the SDGs, but critically improves our own financial future. Profit and Purpose act hand in hand.

Learn about the issues that matter, act every day and influence others through the Shift app.
Learn about the issues that matter, act every day and influence others through the Shift app.

Launching the Shift app for employees to empower sustainable living

We’ve even launched an app dedicated to giving our staff the tools needed on this mission. The Shift app, released in November, is a central tool to putting the power of change in the hands of our employees. It’s a PWA, (Progress Web App) that serves as a mobile knowledge center for Rakuten employees where we can learn about all the issues connected to environmental sustainability. It is also a place where we can find ways to act on our own sustainability journeys. Lastly, it gives us the tools needed to help influence our colleagues, our clients and anyone else looking for inspiration. In short, the app enables the domino effect: Small actions, leading to sustainable change, at scale.

This is a long and sometimes tough journey that every company will eventually take, and we want to be ahead of the curve. Change is rarely easy, but it is essential if we are to adapt to a future we want to protect and remain a company we can be proud to work for.

With 2020 being such a disruptive year, we have a chance to make 2021 the year we harness innovation, collaboration and kindness like never before, and make collective well-being a goal we can all deliver on.

About the author: As EVP of Brand Development and Sustainability for Rakuten in the EMEA region, Mark Haviland’s mission is to accelerate the awareness and understanding of Rakuten’s brand proposition ensuring that consumers, business partners, staff and other stakeholders value the holistic nature of the Rakuten offering. He also oversees Rakuten‘s regional ESG credentials, looking to ensure the company continues its path towards a sustainable future. Mark has been with Rakuten for over 7 year and has previously worked at CNN and Disney, lived in Japan and France, and is now based in London with his wife and 2 sons.

Outside of Rakuten, Mark has a passion for environmental protection and recovery, and is a Trustee of the UK’s Marine Conservation Society.

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