Driving America’s Businesses Forward with Proactive ESG Strategies at the Forefront

by Katerina Jones Jan/Feb 2022
When it comes to environmental stewardship, the transportation industry has come a long way since the early 2000s. Katerina Jones shares a brief history of the progress made toward adopting, meeting and surpassing ESG goals and how transportation industry leaders remain at the forefront of a cleaner, safer tomorrow.

Katerina Jones,
Vice President, Marketing & Business Development,
Fleet Advantage

Entering the new millennium, few companies had a watchful eye toward environmental stewardship, particularly throughout the heavy-duty truck transportation industries. However, just a few short years later, governments in many countries began to better understand the benefits that could come from corporations curbing their carbon emissions output, and new greenhouse gas mandates began to take effect by the early 2000s.

Pioneering Insight for Industry Sustainability

In the early 2000s, the use of data analytics began to help fleet customers run their operations more efficiently. At the time, Fleet Advantage CEO John Flynn had a relative who was receiving treatment for cancer caused by environmental pollutants. Flynn realized the importance of leveraging resources to help companies with transportation fleets not only comply with the new environmental regulations, but serve as models to corporations regarding environmental stewardship.

Flynn understood the importance of the future of truck leasing and began advocating for solutions aimed to significantly reduce emissions over time. By 2011, leading fleet consultants began to make strong recommendations against the use of older-model equipment because of toxic emissions. They introduced never-seen-before emissions scorecards and an innovative replacement program with financial flexibility in mind, making it beneficial to operate newer, clean-diesel engines. These programs also helped fleets meet new GHG-1 federal mandate standards and calculated fuel economy gains of 2.5% miles per gallon in addition to CO2 reductions.

A Focus on Environmental Stewardship

Between 2016 and 2021, leading industry players continued their mission to help fleets change the way they saw the environment, as well as their impact upon it. Advanced asset management strategies helped companies reach environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals while promoting sustainability by shortening asset life cycles and optimizing vehicle specifications to be more fuel-efficient and to align with the duty cycle as well as geographical locale. New approaches also specified lighter components, allowing for longer maintenance intervals — which reduce environmental hazmat waste disposal.

Today, with Flynn’s foresight, companies are boasting vastly improved environmental records while implementing ESG strategies in front of customers, regulators and other critical stakeholders. As an example, Fleet Advantage has saved customers approximately $250 million and approximately 175,000 metric tons in emissions since inception.

Socially Conscious Organizations

In addition to environmental stewardship, social criteria are also within ESG strategies. It’s important organizations are operating with the newest and safest trucks to help keep motorists safe and help attract and retain a greater pool of diverse drivers as well as other staff. Fleet specification experts work to design new trucks for maximum safety and fuel efficiency as well as the lowest maintenance costs and highest resale values through innovative programs focusing on upgrading to newer trucks with advanced safety features. By focusing on safety proactively, fleets are recognizing risks they may otherwise miss as well as solutions which could save millions of dollars in cost reduction while avoiding potential damage to corporate image and brand identity.

Socially responsible organizations today also recognize a more diverse approach to the transportation industry unlocks more potential growth for organizations through the advancement and empowerment of a diverse workforce.

Governance and Corporate Leadership

Governance is an area many companies have struggled with in recent history. This pertains to the governance factors of decision-making, from sovereigns’ policymaking to the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in corporations, including boards of directors, managers, shareholders and stakeholders. Governance factors highlight the processes for organizations. Fleet experts today provide analytics, processes and transparency so that clients can meet legal requirements and satisfy every stakeholder in the process.

Today and Looking Ahead

Today, Flynn is proud of the leadership his company displays in life cycle asset management, data analytics and overall strategies to help clients lead competitive and agile organizations through better decision-making. Leading companies today are proud of the cultures they have created internally and many are strong examples of how diversity and inclusion in the workplace can have a substantially positive impact on an organization, its employees, customers and surrounding communities. They believe the long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh ideas, perspectives and viewpoints into the workplace. Fleet experts now strive to create a culture of diverse individuals from all races, ages, genders, education levels and cultural backgrounds.

Ultimately, executives like Flynn and their companies have a goal to help the industry become as sustainable, socially conscious and governed with as much integrity as possible. Every effort these companies put forth is to benefit all — the environment, clients, stakeholders and local communities. •

Katerina Jones is vice president of marketing and business development at Fleet Advantage, an innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management.

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