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


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

Entering the new millennium, few companies across all industries 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. Fleet Advantage CEO, John Flynn, had a family relative who was receiving treatment for cancer caused by environmental pollutants, and Flynn realized the importance of leveraging resources to help companies with transportation fleets not only comply with the new environmental regulations but serve as model corporations regarding environmental stewardship.

Flynn understood the importance of being the future of truck leasing by advocating solutions that would significantly reduce emissions over time. By 2011, leading fleet consultants had begun 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 that made 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 at 2.5% MPG and CO2 reductions.

A Focus on Environmental Stewardship

Between 2016 and 2021, leading industry players continued their mission to help fleets change the way they see the environment, as well as their impact. Advanced asset management strategies helped companies reach environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals while promoting sustainability through shortening asset life cycles, 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 that allow 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 companies’ ESG strategies. It’s important that organizations are operating the newest and safest trucks that keep all motorists safe and help attract and retain a greater pool of diverse drivers and other staff. Fleet specification experts work with each company to design new trucks for maximum safety, fuel efficiency, lowest maintenance cost, and highest resale values through innovative programs that focus on upgrading to newer trucks with advanced safety features. By focusing on safety proactively, fleets are recognizing risks that they may otherwise not likely identify, as well as a solution that could save millions of dollars in cost reduction while avoiding damage to their corporate image and brand identity.

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

Governance & 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 the board 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 culture they have created internally, and many are strong examples of how diversity and inclusion in the workplace can have a substantially positive impact on their organization, employees, customers, and the surrounding communities. They believe that 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, leading executives like Flynn and his company have a goal to help the industry become as sustainable, socially conscious, and governed with as much integrity as possible. Every effort these leading companies put forth is to benefit all – the environment, clients, stakeholders and local communities.


About The Author: Katerina Jones is Vice President, Marketing and Business Development at Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management. For more information visit


SaaS Marketing in 2022: Maturation and More Responsibility

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), once the new kid acronym on the technology block, has become so deeply entrenched in our technological world as to spawn a new generation of as-a-service models (we’re looking at you AIaaS)—and an entire field of savvy SaaS marketers. Indeed, SaaS has long since left its “emerging” roots behind and hit a new level of marketing maturation.

But with this newfound maturity comes great responsibility. Recent surveys among SaaS marketing executives found that strategy, segmentation, differentiation, and adoption of new technologies will be of heightened importance for this group in 2022. And, as the world continues to reel from COVID-19 and its impact on the economy of work, there will be an even greater emphasis on employee engagement and cross-departmental relationship building.

The Broad Strokes: SaaS Industry Growth Drivers & Challenges

Not so surprisingly, our world of remote work and tech disruption will continue to be key growth drivers for the SaaS industry. And for the top-tier SaaS and cloud companies that can bring that growth, valuations are at an all-time high—34x ARR today, up from a pretty consistent 10x through 2018, per SaaStr. But just as much as our digitized, app-happy workforce can help us grow revenue, it can just as easily take it away.

Key insights:

-The move to mobile is never over, but desktop-only is. The remote worker will continue to drive SaaS apps to mobile so they can log in anytime, anywhere on a variety of devices.

-AI and IoT—and the endless supply of newcomers to these arenas—will drive major SaaS growth.

-Marketers are flying blind to a much greater degree than years past: With more prospective buyers using untrackable methods to get product and service information (e.g., media roundups, user forums, personal networks), marketers will face growing pressure to generate the demand necessary to meet revenue goals.

SaaS Marketing Will Get More Tech + Data Driven

Yes, there once was a time that metrics didn’t reign supreme in marketing, but that time is NOT now. And as romantic as the ideas of gut instinct and natural marketing ability were, they’ve given way to algorithms, automation, and AI.

Key insights:

-Predictive analytics will go from experimental to mainstream, as companies spend the effort to deploy them with every customer touchpoint. Marketers who can effectively implement these new tools will gain customer loyalty, especially among Gen Z.

-Product Lead Strategies that focus on up-selling customers from freemium to paid versions will continue to grow, spawning a new stage in the marketing funnel called Product Qualified Lead (PQL).

-The COVID-induced labor shortage will enable SaaS vendors to disintermediate industries that have been resistant to automation.

Values and Culture Are Growing in Importance

With employees’ relationships to their work rattled since the start of COVID-19—corporate layoffs giving way to the Great Resignation—SaaS marketers will need to take a leadership role in shaping the employee experience. Communicative and empathetic managers who are able to foster employee engagement will make big strides in retaining talent and, consequently, impacting customer engagement.

Outside of their own teams, marketers will need to step up their alignment with groups like Governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) that are focused on company values and practices. It’s not good enough to communicate around pure offerings anymore.

Key insights:

-The employee experience will become vitally important in 2022, as employees across the board seek more purpose in their work lives. Support must be provided to workers so they can create and sustain the internal relationships that will keep them happily committed to their jobs.

-Greater employee engagement will become a driver for customer engagement—an entirely new marketing engine.

-GRC will become more mainstream, making each department more willing to share information and resources with one another. This heightened focus on GRC strategy will reduce risks, costs, and duplication of efforts across departments.

-Marketers will need to take special care to ensure a brand’s story satisfies and compliments the pressing issues undertaken by ESG. And, in this sense, the ESG framework and its participants will be drivers of growth in 2022.

Bottom Line

As SaaS assumes its more mature status in tech, marketing leaders will need to cozy up to their more expansive roles as tech drivers, relationship builders, and strategic architects in order to continue their growth trajectory in 2022.


Angus Robertson is a Partner and CMO with Chief Outsiders, the nation’s fastest-growing executive-as-a-service company.


Accepting Gas as Sustainable Will Hurt Korea’s Green Finance Credentials

After six months of resisting industry calls to add liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its green taxonomy, the South Korean government this week finally succumbed to gas lobbyists. 

This is surprising as, only 2 weeks ago, President Moon Jae-in made a well-received, new emissions pledge—cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40% by 2030.

The obvious dichotomy here is that recognizing gas and LNG as an environmentally sustainable “transition” fuel will likely lock South Korea into a high-emitting future, which directly contradicts the policy and market incentives created by President Moon’s new emissions reduction targets.

Released last week, the draft green taxonomy, known locally as the K-Taxonomy, prescribes an end-use emission technical screening criteria of 320g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). A life-cycle emission standard is also expected, but it will only apply from 2025.

This means that new unabated LNG-power projects, of which around 10 gigawatts are expected to flood South Korea’s energy market by 2025, would qualify for green bond and loan financing if the draft K-Taxonomy is finalized without changes.

Emissions-wary ESG investors should be on alert

South Korean green debt amounted to US$42.8 billion on 30 September 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A third of it, around US$14.22 billion, funded power and energy companies.

If the current draft of the K-Taxonomy proceeds as is, ESG investors may find themselves inadvertently backing gas.

Gas is a fossil fuel that contributes carbon and methane to the atmosphere through its combustion, with lifecycle emissions that are dangerous and significant. Moreover, methane from gas has a warming effect up to 80 or 90 times more powerful than carbon over a 20-year period, making gas worse for the climate than coal in the short term.

The tension around the limited role for gas in energy transition is evident in the taxonomy work playing out in all global markets.

After much controversy, the European Union (EU) accepted gas-powered generation as a ‘transitional’ asset class under its Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, provided that a project’s lifecycle carbon emissions are limited to 100g CO2 per kWh.

At this specification, gas-powered projects in the EU will likely require the use of carbon capture technology (CCS), which is yet to be proven economically or technically viable at scale anywhere in the world. Under these conditions, gas is unlikely to be funded in the short to medium, or even the long term, under the EU’s taxonomy.

The K-Taxonomy is expected to be finalized by the end of 2021, and with its current draft not consistent with the gold-standard EU Taxonomy, investors are right to be wary.

The Moon administration risks missing out on new pools of global capital

With the inclusion of gas in the K-Taxonomy, Korean policymakers have effectively signaled they aren’t up to the task of leading market development with a green taxonomy.

Instead, they are showing a preference for remaining in lock-step with emerging market Southeast Asian counterparts who have flagged their intention to recognize gas-powered generation as “green”.

This puts South Korea at risk of deterring serious ESG investors who typically prefer “dark green” assets—solar, wind and geothermal for example.

The United Kingdom’s (UK) inaugural sovereign green bond issued in September 2021 demonstrated that risk when it provided a mixed portfolio of green and controversial assets like “blue hydrogen”, which uses methane gas in its production. Several leading debt investors immediately expressed criticism over the sovereign’s opportunistic ‘green’ bond and avoided it entirely.

China is working with the EU to harmonize their respective taxonomies

By contrast, China—the largest green debt market in the region—took a different and much more strategic approach, learning from market trends and adapting.

Its first green taxonomy in 2015 categorized “clean coal” as a green project that qualified for the issuance of green bonds, drawing widespread criticism, particularly from foreign investors.

Recognizing the significance of a truly green taxonomy, in mid-2021, China removed fossil fuel-related projects and the new Green Bond Endorsed Project Catalogue—its equivalent green taxonomy—now excludes gas, LNG and coal-fired power activities.

Like South Korea, China relies on burning fossil fuels to power the country. However, President Xi Jinping’s pledge to accelerate the country’s transformation to a green and low carbon economy, and to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, has opened the door to a much more strategic view on how China’s green finance market should develop, and which technologies should be incentivized.

China is also working with the EU to harmonize their respective taxonomies by the end of 2021. This is a positive initiative between jurisdictions in response to investor requests for a common standard on green or sustainable projects. The move also indicates that the Asian giant is ready to compete for global green capital.

China understands that ESG-focussed investors have become more forensic in their research and decision-making on what the different taxonomies recognize.

More notably, China’s mindset for justifying green energy activities appears to be unfazed, at least for now, by its need to finance new coal and gas-related projects, said to be required to see them through the energy transition phase—reasoning that its Asian counterparts, including South Korea, have defended and used to classify their own gas-powered projects as green.

But fossil fuel projects have a long history of being successfully financed. The existence of a green or sustainable finance taxonomy does not prevent assets or projects that the taxonomy excludes from being funded through conventional sources of finance. As in the past, fossil fuel power projects will continue to raise funds through traditional non-labeled debt market instruments.

Investors want green taxonomies

Meanwhile, investors around the world are urging governments to step up and commit to clear, strong and investable policies that will unlock the capital needed to transition to a net-zero economy.

Despite its now hollow new emissions pledge, the Moon administration appears unprepared to rise to the occasion. It risks missing out on new pools of global capital if it does not get the policy settings right, and instead chooses to pander to the fossil fuel industry.


Christina Ng is a Research and Stakeholder Engagement Leader – Fixed Income, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).


The Consequences of ESG Risk Exposure

Last week, news emerged linking an electronics company to the transport and employment of labor in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China with documented occurrences of widespread human rights violations. This is the latest in a series of reports and white papers investigating supply chain connections to this region and the forced labor on its inhabitants. These reports not only expose the atrocities and human suffering in the region but also reveal significant supply chain risks that may not even be on an organization’s radar. With more than half of companies lacking supply chain visibility across their extended ecosystem, organizations are at a growing risk of both environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reputational risks, as well as regulatory risks as governments across the globe ban supply chain exposure to these human rights violations.

Nth-tier Supply Chain Risks

Lacking visibility across the supply chain leaves companies susceptible to blind spots and risks of which they may not be aware. For instance, inspired by this news, we identified almost one hundred companies with direct relationships to the company highlighted in their article, a number that significantly expands when looking beyond the first-tier. Thanks to the hyper-specialization and opacity of supply chains, many companies may not be aware that they risk potential exposure to human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Below is a breakdown, by industry, of companies with direct connections to Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI). While the software industry intuitively comprises a quarter of the companies, other industries such as machinery, media, or entertainment may initially assume minimal exposure. At a time when every company is a tech company, few companies are immune to these kinds of connections.

Global Focus

These recent revelations build on a growing governmental emphasis on prohibiting forced labor from supply chains. In July, the United States government issued a joint advisory pertaining to the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang. Released by the U.S. Department of State, U.S Department of Treasury, U.S Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor, the “Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory” highlighted the range of risks to which companies may be exposed when conducting business in that region. As the advisory notes, these include exposure to regulatory risks, surveillance, and human rights abuses.

This advisory reflects the growing focus on ESG supply chain risks as well as the regulatory risks related to the inclusion of prohibited and restricted companies within a supply chain. In the U.S. the Department of Commerce continues to expand various restrictions lists due to human rights violations, banning solar panels companies to numerous tech companies for their connection.

In the European Union, the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime introduced restrictive measures of entities connected to human rights violations. This is part of a broader emphasis across the ESG spectrum, including the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation as well as mandatory due diligence for human rights, environmental, and governance issues.

Further, as ESG concerns spread worldwide, so does the country coverage for impacted companies. Below is a map denoting the geolocations for the companies which are supplied by Universal Electronics. It is worth noting that, while the US and the EU have issued restrictions and guidelines in this regard, nearly 50% of UEI’s consumers are located in these regions.

Gaining Visibility Across Supply Chain Risks

The Joint Advisory notes, “Given the severity and extent of these abuses, businesses and individuals that do not exit supply chains, ventures, and/or investments connected to Xinjiang could run a high risk of violating U.S. law.” Based on both market forces as well as regulatory shifts, it is increasingly essential to maintain visibility across your extended supply chain and proactively eliminate potential exposure to ESG reputational and regulatory risks.

While we quickly identified almost one hundred companies with potential ESG exposure, we only referenced direct suppliers. By looking at the second, third, fourth tier, and beyond, these numbers exponentially grow and illustrate the complex web and risks that extend throughout supply chain ecosystems.

The complexity of these networks and the growing consequences for failing to address ESG risk in the supply chain highlights the clear need for organizations to reexamine how they identify and monitor their extended business relationships.

To learn more about extended supply chain risk and the consequences of ESG risk exposure, visit


Andrea Little Limbago is the Vice President of Research and Analysis at Interos