How Meetic is Developing its Sustainability Strategy
Meetic has sustainability at heart and has had for a long time. It was started out by a sum of initiatives from the employees and then embodied by the new CEO in 2019. There is no greenwashing as we are accelerating the strategy in a modest and pragmatic way but we believe it can be a win-win situation as our apps and websites are where we have the biggest impact.
A bit of history
We started moving to a more sustainable activity in 2016 with some small initiatives. It seemed best to start with the easiest and most visibles actions with a tangible impact, such as sorting out waste, investing in eco-responsible lunches for the teams and being more environmentally-friendly. As an example, we calculated that our consumption of plastic cups for the 250 people in the office represented around 60,000 items a year, the volumic equivalent of a small meeting room. It was just nonsense. This led to investing into energy-saving equipment, reducing our carbon emissions where we could and better communication around the community.
However, this only impacted a small portion of our carbon footprint. In 2018 and 2019, we set up a dedicated team, with experts from our different departments, to move our actions forward. We started to properly estimate our carbon footprint and reevaluated our priorities. We communicated internally, more and more, we mobilised everyone and encouraged them to act here and there to make more of a difference. We also determined that our biggest carbon footprint was the end-user devices and that it was where we had to act to have an impact. Over the last two years, we took measures to accelerate our strategy, starting with refining and improving our carbon footprint, committing to reducing it by 10% per year (following the Accords de Paris in 2015) and implementing tech/product key strategic stakes: “Foster a performance & eco-conception culture”.
We also structured our actions in terms of governance and processes by creating a performance committee which gathers all tech leads on a monthly basis to discuss our performances and the improvements we can bring. It enables us to have a transversal vision and animation of our end user application performance. We are also in the process of becoming ISO 14001. ISO 14001 is a demanding norm, which allows us to track all processes, identify all key stakeholders, and follow our actions. It’s the source of all of our processes that we are now writing down and helps us enter continuous improvement mode. It has several numerical targets, such as the 10% reduction every year.
Tech/Product: 2021 initiatives
As I mentioned, sustainability really became a key stake for our tech and product teams. In 2021, we took big actions in this area. We first took part in the apidays sustainable challenge, where we set up a team to brainstorm, sent them out to workshops and they came back with tangible measures for the future roadmap of Meetic. Secondly, we organised performance workshops in terms of governance within the company. Number three, we implemented third-party audits. Thus, with the help of an external company, we evaluated the carbon footprints of our front end applications, we identified levers to reduce it, we assessed the opportunity to integrate eco-design in our project and we drove awareness inside our tech and product teams. The fourth action was to organise an eco-hackathon around sustainability. Around half of our tech teams here in Meetic took part in the hackathon, which deemed it a great success. Eight ideas and projects came out of it in the end and it allowed us to go deeper and further in our systems and projects for more sustainability. One of the outcomes of the eco-hackathon was the greenTool which we now run. It started with the idea that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. The greenTool is using a combination of sector technologies that are already available internally and it helps us to measure the eco-performance of our sites and apps and measure the impact of any further change. Any AV test we want to make, we will measure the impact of it in terms of ecoperformance and reassess and rework if needed.
To be continued…
It’s just the beginning of the story. First, we were pioneers in our group, we promoted our initiatives to our shareholders in the Match Group and so they created a dedicated department in order to take action around the globe on all of our businesses. Secondly, we started to compensate and offset our carbon emissions. For instance, we finance the replanting of a forest.
My key conviction is that these measures can also have a positive impact on financial performances. When it comes to digital sobriety, and if we move on to eco-conception, eco-performance and everything, it will enable us to have a higher screen performance, meaning our hubs of sites will perform better on the front end side. It will also help to have less megabytes, less downloads and in the end, it will make everything faster and promote better app performances. It will enable us to have more interactions and activity on our websites and apps, leading to higher user satisfaction and, of course, more conversion and revenue.
Q: Have you managed to communicate with your users about the environmental impact you are trying to have?
A: No, this is not something we communicated externally. We act more as an employer in this case, our actions take place within our group. It is something that is very important for the younger generation and because we hire them, they are happy we are going down the path of sustainability.
Q: Do you talk about it during your recruitment campaigns then, is it something that has an impact on the people coming to work for you?
A: I know it is very important for Gen Z so it is part of our arguments when we recruit.
Q: You mentioned this was a point you brought up to the Match Group, does this mean other companies within the group are taking similar actions?
A: The group created a Sustainability Department with a head of sustainability now, so we are involved in a monthly Sustainability Committee, where we share all of our best practices and all of our actions, little and big, and all of our ideas. So yes, there is a global sustainability community in the group and we do take actions. Some are similar, some are different. For instance, in California, they will talk about electric vehicles, chargers and everything. It’s not the same in Paris, of course, but the key thing is that we all take actions within our community and, Meetic being a pioneer in the group, we are able to share our experience.
Q: Have you had feedback from your employees about it? Was it difficult to get them involved, are they happy?
A: Actually, I think they are all happy. Some of them really take the projects to heart and are more than willing to take action. And this is true throughout the whole company at all different levels and they engage everyone around them.The developers, tech leads and product managers help promote eco-conception, the infrastructure and IT operations teams also act in the data centres. We believe it is just part of the normal evolution of the world.
Q: How do you audit your actions?
A: We were helped by an external company who assisted us in building a methodology around the way we calculate carbon footprints for the front end user device. It consists of evaluating the average weight in megabytes, the average weight of a session of users on our sites and apps, and also the weight of app downloads. So we started with evaluating the average weight of our sessions, then we allocated this weight by country, because electricity consumption doesn’t have the same carbon footprint depending on the country. Then, we convert from megabytes to electricity consumption in kilowatts by hour, and then we convert it again to tonnes of CO2, allocating it by markets. Following this, we refine it so we have data to work with. It doesn’t have to be precise from Day 1, the important thing is to start doing it and being able to take action.