Engineering software giant Autodesk has appointed Joe Speicher as its first Chief Sustainability Officer, in a move to further align business and sustainability outcomes.
Speicher previously held roles as Vice President and Executive Director of the Autodesk Foundation, the firm’s philanthropy arm. He has been in his new position since July, reporting to Chief Financial Officer Debbie Clifford (who was previously the one leading sustainability efforts).
A US$43.2 billion tech company, Autodesk has a relatively small climate impact: it sources renewable energy to power its facilities and cloud services, invests in initiatives to improve sustainability in the engineering and construction industry, and is making progress towards its SBTi-approved target to reduce its carbon footprint – which stood at 115,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent last year.
But it has been criticised by climate activists in the past for selling its software to the fossil fuel industry, including coal companies that use it to design equipment.
Based on comments by the company’s new CSO, it looks like Autodesk has no intention to stop working with polluting industries, and instead plans to support their decarbonisation efforts by making more efficient technologies accessible to them.
"We are building a platform for democratising access to complex technologies and data for industries that are carbon-intensive – because we believe this is our best opportunity to help address the implications of climate change,” said Speicher.
Integrating sustainability into core business functions
By creating a Chief Sustainability Officer role within the finance department, Autodesk hopes to truly integrate sustainability into core business functions “and direct resources to innovations that address the world's most pressing challenges,” according to Clifford.
As CSO, Speicher is responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s sustainability and impact strategy, metrics and reporting, as well as cross-industry initiatives to improve sustainability capabilities for customers.
He also continues to lead the Autodesk Foundation, and chairs the firm’s ESG Steering Committee, “ensuring that Autodesk assesses and addresses issues that are relevant and specific to our external ESG objectives, including materiality assessment, measurement, management, and disclosure”.