Capgemini and Cognizant to reduce business travel to a strict minimum
Speaking at a remote conference, travel officials from two global consulting firms said their companies were aiming to cut back on business travel after the lockdown. Katharina Navarro of Capgemini and Drew Mitchell of Cognizant both noted that their consultants had been able to perform their duties relatively well during the pandemic, leading companies to reassess the need for regular travel abroad. .
Over the past decade, environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks have quickly risen to the top of the investor community’s agenda – and as a result, resistance from senior executives in the consulting industry has diminished significantly. With secure corporate membership, the world’s largest consulting firms have spent the past few years advancing major ESG thrusts both in their organizations and in their clients.
A number of industry ESG leaders have emphasized travel as part of this dynamic. For example, strategy giants Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company both recently announced plans to reduce the number of staff trips, as well as ensure that those trips are powered by sustainable energy.
Now, technology-focused consulting firms Capgemini and Cognizant have also announced plans to reduce business travel and the emissions it causes. Travel managers from the two global consulting firms have described programs to make employee travel extremely difficult to justify, after successfully managing their businesses remotely amid the pandemic.
Cognizant has decided to maintain its travel ban for the remainder of the year. According to Drew Mitchell, Cognizant’s regional travel director for the Americas, the company has found its sales and customer teams to be “very good at virtual presentations,” and therefore, Cognizant “will try to keep it up.”
Speaking at a two-day virtual event WIN Global Travel Network and Hickory Global Partners, Mitchell announced that starting in the first quarter of 2022, the company will introduce a pre-authorization requirement for all travel, which will be linked to budgets. Currently, Cognizant is developing the approval form and code to prepare for this launch.
Meanwhile, according to Katharina Navarro, Global Head of Travel Category at Capgemini, there is the possibility of a travel cap, with further discounts due to the company’s sustainability plans. She said at the same event that this would see Capgemini take a “zero-based” budget approach and question the need and ROI of every trip, starting in 2022. In that case, employees might need “ group together “multiple reasons for their trip in the future, rather than trying to book a flight just for one meeting.
Navarro added: “It was a bit of a positive shock to see that we can do so much digitally, and that we can not only gain new customers, but deliver complete projects end to end on a virtual basis… C really is a proven new concept.
In addition to the ecological benefits, there are also major financial incentives. Adding the efforts of the two companies together, the lack of future business travel could save companies a total of $ 900 million on their budgets. Cognizant has 300,000 employees and, according to Mitchell, before Covid-19, it was spending $ 250-300 million just on air travel. Meanwhile, of Capgemini’s 250,000 employees, 80,000 were traveling around the world, resulting in an even higher travel expense figure of $ 600 million, as confirmed by Navarro.
However, the news might be less welcome in the aviation and hospitality industry. Having been battered by the crisis throughout the months of lockdown, the hotels and airlines that have survived will have viewed the return of business travel as a lifeline – but as more companies scale back their journeys in this manner is a lifeline that increasingly seems as if it is going to disappoint their expectations.