The Top 10 Questions We Get About HubSpot’s Sustainability Journey

By Yogesh Chauhan, Director of ESG at HubSpot

I’ve been working in the sustainability space for two decades, with a number of companies looking to identify and take action on their commitments as a responsible business. As you can imagine, being in this work for so long, I’m unable to count the number of times when I’m asked — what does sustainability really mean? For many people, sustainability might bring to mind the environment. When companies like HubSpot talk about sustainability, it refers to all issues within the pillars of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG), including carbon emissions, waste, human rights, diversity, privacy, community engagement, and a lot more.

Today, 96% of G250 companies report on sustainability or ESG matters, showcasing the growing interest in sustainable practices from candidates, investors, customers, and employees. For us at HubSpot, we’ve worked hard in 2022 on making meaningful, long-term change and I’m excited to see these efforts come to life in 2023. Since joining in 2022 as the company’s first Director of ESG, I’ve spoken to many customers, partners, and employees about our sustainability journey and in the spirit of transparency (one of our values at HubSpot), I’m going to answer the top questions I’ve received. I hope these insights help you, whether you’re considering a career at HubSpot or navigating your own sustainability journey.

How does HubSpot approach sustainability/ESG?

There are a multitude of topics within ESG. In developing our strategy, we took a look at where we wanted to focus and invest our time, energy, and resources, knowing we couldn’t do everything. As part of this undertaking, we carried out what’s called a “materiality assessment.” What this means in practice is directly engaging with stakeholders in a thoughtful manner to understand what they see as priorities, and then narrowing those down to where we can have the greatest impact. Put more simply, we view ESG as a set of commitments that deliver on our purpose, which is to build a company future generations would be proud of. So we don’t pursue an ESG initiative unless we feel we can have an impact on our employees, customers, communities, and planet.

Where we landed is: energy and emissions; diversity, inclusion & belonging; and customer trust. These are our ESG priorities and how we’ll make progress on our purpose. We plan to repeat our materiality assessment in the not too distant future, to ensure we’re focusing on the right issues as we grow and scale.

What are HubSpot’s ESG focus areas?

As I mentioned above, our priority issues are energy and emissions; diversity, inclusion & belonging; and customer trust. Let me talk a bit more about each of these.

  • Energy and emissions: Going back to our purpose, we can’t build a company that’s around for generations without doing our part for the planet. The environmental impact of tech companies might seem negligible when compared to other industries like oil and gas. But when you consider that we have over 7,400 employees and 150,000 customers globally, we have a responsibility to understand and address our footprint.

Does HubSpot report on its sustainability practices?

Yes. As a member of the United Nations Global Compact, we’ve committed to reporting on our sustainability practices and tracking our progress over time.

We published our inaugural Sustainability Report in 2021, sharing our efforts in ESG. We released our second-annual report in June and are currently working on our 2023 report. We also disclose our efforts through filings with the SEC, and regularly participate in assessments by global raters and rankers, such as S&P Global’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment. As we continue to evolve our ESG efforts, we plan to respond to more ESG surveys and evaluate aligning with additional global reporting frameworks.

Does HubSpot publicly share its greenhouse gas emissions/environmental impact?

Our environmental progress and goals are detailed in our 2022 Sustainability Report, but I want to give a bit more context here on where our emissions come from and how we’re working to address our footprint.

Since we don’t manufacture a physical product, like many SaaS companies our emissions are concentrated in Scope 2 and 3, with the latter making up the majority due to our supply chain. There are two areas within our supply chain that we focus on. The first is our upstream supply chain, which encompasses our footprint in the cloud and the tech suppliers we use. And the second is our downstream supply chain, which refers to how our customers use HubSpot.

With upstream, we have a supplier code of conduct that we’ll be building on with a supplier engagement programme. In essence, it involves having a dialogue with our key cloud and tech suppliers and ensuring that they too are focusing on carbon reduction. Regarding downstream, that’s at a much earlier stage and we’re working with our customers to understand how we can support their decarbonisation journeys. If you’re a HubSpot customer and want to connect about this, I’d love to hear from you!

In terms of how we’re addressing our emissions in the long-term, we’re focusing our efforts on decarbonising through reduction measures rather than offsetting, in order to hold ourselves accountable to making meaningful change. This means setting science-based emissions reduction targets aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative and committing to net carbon zero. We’ll be sharing more about this soon, but it’s something I’m hugely excited about and a big milestone in our climate journey.

HubSpot volunteers in Singapore.

What opportunities do you provide for employees to get involved in sustainability?

HubSpotters play a huge role in sustainability and joining our employee groups is a fantastic way to be part of the conversation and contribute to our efforts. One of these groups is Eco@HubSpot, which was founded in 2018 by some of our employees in Dublin to support local sustainability projects. It has since expanded to almost 1,500 members across the globe and is one of our most active employee interest resource groups. As part of evolving our employee engagement work we’ll be encouraging all our employees to take collective action on the environment through programming and events and ensuring that it’s a pillar of our culture programming. We plan to run quarterly campaigns focused on specific topics, such as energy or travel, with the goal of educating employees and encouraging sustainable behaviours.

Another way for employees to get involved is through volunteering. HubSpotters are passionate people and it’s important that we help them grow better while harnessing their collective passion to invest in the communities that need it most. Through our dedicated employee volunteering platform, HubSpotters have eight hours in company time annually to give back to the causes and communities they care about. We also support our communities at a company level through other program initiatives — including fundraising campaigns and flagship events.

Lastly, we really do feel that sustainability is everyone’s job so it’s important that we’re continuously giving HubSpotters the right tools and education. Teams across the business have developed content and trainings that equip our employees with the skills they need to make an impact. We require all HubSpotters to undergo courses on corporate policies like our code of conduct as well as on Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging. We’re also in the midst of developing ESG-focused courses for new and existing employees.

Solar panels on the roof of HubSpot House in Dublin.

Can you share more about sustainability efforts in your offices?

With 88% of HubSpotters working remotely some or all of the time, there’s an opportunity to rethink how we design and maintain our buildings with sustainability in mind, while enabling our hybrid workforce to do their best work.

Our Facilities team has been hard at work understanding our electricity, waste, and water usage, and assessing how to move forward with a larger strategy. We actively pursue sustainability initiatives like space management, local sourcing, furniture donations, living walls, centralised waste management, and more. As a hybrid company, we also want to ensure an equitable meeting experience, no matter where you are. We offer digital whiteboards and video conferencing, and are experimenting with inclusive camera technology, new conference room layouts, and thoughtful acoustics to create meeting equity through technology and design.

One office I love to highlight for its achievements in sustainability is HubSpot House in Dublin. It’s a platinum certified building based on version 4 of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in Ireland. The programme is a four tiered credit based system that is awarded on points. Our certification is due to our sustainable design measures and the activities we’ve undertaken in emissions reduction, water efficiency, energy, materials, and more to make a positive environmental impact and contribute to employee wellbeing. For example, we harvest over 60,000 litres of rainwater each quarter. The rainwater is stored below the car park and pumped up the building to serve restroom facilities. The roof of HubSpot House features solar panels which produce 16,000 kWh annually. The array of PhotoVoltaic (PV) panels produce electricity from the UV radiation emitted from the sun so that even on a rainy day in Dublin, we generate a considerable amount of green electricity.

How should SMEs approach ESG now, given competing demands of economic pressure and increasing demands from corporate buyers to demonstrate ESG credentials?

Many aspects of ESG are gradually becoming baked-in when it comes to running a business large or small. This is partly a result of increased regulation across various geographies. It’s also being driven by changing customer/client preferences and expectations. Being part of a supply chain is now a key driver of ESG. As we move to mandatory disclosure particularly of greenhouse gas emissions, winning and retaining customers will no doubt be partly influenced by a company’s ESG strategy.

For SMEs this can initially seem like an extra and costly burden certainly in the short-term. However, ignoring ESG could well have a detrimental effect in the longer term. The challenge is that there are limited resources aimed at SMEs which are accessible and low or no cost. For that reason, there’s something to be said about focusing efforts on trying to do a few things well and concentrate on those which are material to your business. One of the risks of trying to do too much at once is that it often leads to “greenwashing.”

It’s important to understand that purpose can’t just be an afterthought, tacked on at the last minute. Purpose declares a company’s core reason for existence and its unique impact on the world. It’s not easy to nail down right away, and that’s why companies iterate on it for years, but actually sitting down and discussing purpose with your team and amongst each other is a great way to start.

I heard your founders are funding sustainability related startups. What’s that all about?

HubSpot’s co-founder and Executive Chairperson Brian Halligan co-founded a VC firm called Propeller focused on sustainability. Working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Propeller recently announced a $100 million fund to invest in ocean-based science and technology solutions. If you’re curious to learn more, check out the website here. It’s amazing to see Brian so involved in the future of our planet. He’s always championed HubSpot’s ESG work and it’s a real privilege to have his continued involvement in our sustainability journey!

How have you been thinking about financed emissions, especially with the BankFWD Carbon Bankroll Report as well as the CFA Institute’s report on 401k emissions?

We’re still early on in addressing our greenhouse gas emissions, so our main focus for the time being is on direct (sources we own or control) and indirect (sources resulting from our business, but owned by other entities) emissions, rather than financed emissions. Like most companies, we’re leaning towards phasing out fossil fuels in the long-term and a big part of this includes setting science-based targets and taking steps to achieve net zero. We need to make progress on our goals in this area before we consider other avenues for impact. That said, initiatives to help our economies transition to low carbon should be applauded, and I think there’s tremendous value in tech companies exploring this at an industry level.

What’s one challenge and one opportunity as you think about the future?

There is so much we’re working on, but one thing I’m most looking forward to is capturing the energy, goodwill, and engagement of our thousands of employees. HubSpotters are so passionate about doing good and making an impact. In one sense it’s a significant responsibility to turn that into action, but in a bigger sense, it’s an incredible opportunity.

How we grow sustainably while balancing our environmental footprint is a challenge that I spend quite a bit of time thinking about. Especially because there are many activities across the business that we have to take into account, like travel, electricity usage, our footprint in the cloud, how we engage with our suppliers, etc. However, I recently came across a quote from climate justice writer Mary Heglar that resonated with me: “The thing about climate is that you can either be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem, or fall in love with the creativity of the solutions.” I love this perspective and it’s one I try to keep in mind along our journey.

Thank you to everyone who shared questions! If you’re reading this and want to get in touch with thoughts, comments, or feedback, feel free to reach out to



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