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FiscalNote's Overview of Sustainability & Social Impact Efforts 2021
A Message from FiscalNote’s Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder, Tim Hwang…
From its very beginning, the mission of FiscalNote has been inspired by an unrelenting passion to bring positive change to the world.
As we grow and continue to demonstrate that commitment through our marketplace leadership and in service to our global customers, we embrace sustainability as both a cause and a practice – bringing both value and purpose to our people, our customers, our stakeholders, and our culture.
Launching “Our Journey to a Sustainable Future” is an important and vital first step in our shared journey to a more sustainable, equitable, and socially and environmentally responsible future. I look forward to sharing our ongoing progress in the years to come.
For more background about FiscalNote's sustainability journey and the motivation behind our efforts, please read this Medium post by our Co-founder and Global Head of ESG, Gerald Yao.
With a mission to help global organizations become sustainability leaders, in 2021 we expanded our FiscalNote ESG Solutions capabilities, enhanced existing offerings, and acquired a strong suite of new solutions:
We acquired Equilibrium, an end-to-end carbon, climate, and ESG solution that combines an AI-powered platform with expert advisory services. Equilibrium helps streamline workflows and unify carbon, climate, and ESG data management across the entire organization, supply chain, and portfolio. Organizations measure, benchmark, and report on their goals and metrics encompassing the E, S, and G, in areas such as carbon emissions, DEI commitments, regulations, and more.
Through CQ, we continued to produce our ESG Briefing Newsletter, which started in 2019, on a regular weekly cadence.
We launched a monthly ESG Global Landscape Monitor that leverages research capabilities across teams in FiscalNote to produce a report on the latest trends and issues in the global ESG landscape, paired with quarterly industry expert calls.
As an example of our ESG research and advisory services, Oxford Analytica collaborated with EY to deliver a report, The Future of Sustainability Reporting Standards", in June 2021, which was paired with a panel event around ESG and Sustainability Reporting in July.
We provided confidential, vendor-free communities for ESG, social impact, and sustainability leaders at the world's largest organizations via Board.org's CSR (now ESG & CSR in 2022) and DEI communities.
The FiscalNote Executive Institute (FNEI) continued to hold events and produced differentiated content around ESG for senior leaders across sectors.
We continued to invest in our global ESG solutions in 2022, particularly around our software platform, research & analysis, and advisory capabilities.
Please visit https://fiscalnote.com/solutions/esg for further information.
Environmental sustainability is ingrained in our global culture and business. Our products help clients stay ahead of environmental-related issues, risks, policies, and legislation. Environmental issues affect all of us around the world and we understand our opportunity to enhance the reach of climate- and environmental-related topics through our ESG Solutions offerings while also focusing on understanding our own environmental impact at FiscalNote.
The year 2021 was an exciting time, as the company acquired ten different companies1 that align with FiscalNote's mission of turning insights into action. As we continue to integrate our acquisitions and accelerate the results they deliver for our customers, we have been working to understand our environmental footprint, especially with regard to our climate impacts and opportunities for reduction.
FiscalNote offers a comprehensive suite of ESG solutions, which provides a variety of ESG products and services, including a Climate Strategy team. Our Climate Strategy team has used the Equilibrium platform to calculate FiscalNote's 2021 Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions following guidance from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The operational control boundary approach and IPCC AR5 global warming potentials (GWP) were used in the calculations and the emissions reported cover calendar year 2021 activities. Our 2021 reported Scope 1 and 2 emissions include FiscalNote operations and businesses we acquired in 2021. In some categories, our reported Scope 3 emissions include emissions from the businesses acquired in 2021, but in most cases our reported Scope 3 emissions include FiscalNote business activities only. Many of our acquisitions occurred mid-year, and we worked to integrate them over the course of the year. Accordingly, we intend to include the Scope 3 emissions of businesses acquired in 2021 in our emissions for 2022. This was the first year we quantified our Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions, and we have done so with the intention of accounting for GHG impacts of all relevant business operations and activities, to the best of our knowledge. Our first GHG emissions inventory was a first step to help us understand our climate impacts and identify areas for future focus. Our 2021 emissions, and methods used for calculations, can be found in the table below.
Fuel emissions at FiscalNote’s leased buildings have been accounted for under Scope 2 as purchased energy, per the GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance that tenants of leased buildings should report consumption of heat generated on-site as Scope 2. Other Scope 1 activities, such as mobile combustion and process emissions, are also not applicable to FiscalNote operations. Therefore, Scope 1 emissions are reported as 0.
1 Including FactSquared, which FiscalNote acquired on December 31, 2020.
FiscalNote's co-founders created our corporate values before they even developed the company's first business plan. For Tim, Gerald, and Jonathan – each of whom is Asian American in heritage – it was imperative that Fiscalnote embodied inclusive principles from day one. With this in mind, they focused on developing a work environment anchored by a sense of community and belonging. In 2021, Chairman, CEO & Co-founder Tim Hwang pledged to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace through the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™. By signing on, FiscalNote has pledged to take action in cultivating a workplace where diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed, respected, and celebrated – and where employees feel encouraged to prioritize and discuss diversity and inclusion.
In 2021, 65% of our team members regularly participated in “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Accessibility (DEIBA)” programs and initiatives and over 10% of our team members volunteered their time in formal roles as Inclusion Ambassadors and DEIBA Taskforce Members to coordinate our efforts in ways that reflect values and ideas important to those who are part of our FiscalNote family.
Our efforts are led by an SVP of People & DEIBA and the Director, Corporate Communications, CSR & DEIBA in partnership with the DEIBA Committee - which includes representatives from various ethnicities, races, genders, disabilities, sexual orientations, religions, departments, and geographies. Across all of FiscalNote’s People programs, a DEIBA lens and continuous evaluation of inclusion contribute to our ability to attract new talent, strengthen employee engagement and experience, and promote our values.
Our senior leaders actively sponsor and participate in these efforts, and team members engaged in over 54 DEIBA programs and events in 2021 alone with over 2,000 total experiences with DEIBA and learning & development – while growing our team member base by 59%, handling ten acquisitions and preparing to take the company public – demonstrating the level of importance we place on our values and inclusion.
These efforts and experiences are centered around FiscalNote’s three strategic pillars of DEIBA:
Each strategy’s initiatives are executed in service of our overarching DEIBA mission:
FiscalNote unlocks the potential of policy data to solve the world’s biggest business and social problems.
Our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility similarly unlocks the potential of team members to create an atmosphere where they are invited to bring their “whole self” to work, feel empowered and valued, find meaning in their work, and flourish professionally.
Operationalizing equity is about how we design for DEIBA in processes, programs, and practices. This includes activities like onboarding, team member policies, reporting, benefits offerings, performance evaluation, compensation and promotions equity, facilities audits, talent management practices, and more accessible job requirements
One of the ways FiscalNote strives to operationalize equity is by providing flexible and accessible benefit offerings for team members. Full-time U.S.-based team members have a variety of benefit programs designed to serve the diverse needs of our population. Some key benefits for our full-time employees include:
In 2021, FiscalNote also transitioned from a traditional annual performance management rating system to a culture of continuous, reciprocal, and transparent coaching. Check-in surveys for team members helped keep leaders accountable for delivering on our new practices. Responses to our pulse survey reinforced that the more frequently managers talk with their team members about company priorities, individual expectations, and opportunities for career growth, the better team members rate culture, experiences, and sense of appreciation.
Peer Coaching Leadership Cohorts inclusive of more than 157 leaders provided ongoing support and targeted development for this initiative. Incentive-eligible leaders had quarterly professional development or DEIBA goals they must fulfill to earn their bonuses.
Talent Acquisition leveraged diversity sourcing agencies to introduce additional candidates into consideration for our roles, which allows us to easily offer training and development programs that help hiring managers avoid bias in the selection process, write job descriptions, and establish minimum requirements for roles.
These are just some of the ways that FiscalNoters have engaged to operationalize equity in 2021, which have helped us to retain women – when accounting for the increased percentage of non-specified gender – and minorities, and increase our diversity in hiring.
By leveraging this data, as well as succession planning goals and strategy, we set talent expectations for 2022 as part of our inaugural Workforce Planning effort. The objective was to identify 2022 workforce and talent-related needs and have leaders utilize that information as requirements for team member and budget planning conversations, so internal mobility, training, succession plans, and diversity development and hiring are front and center in the planning process and aligned to capabilities for success.
Creating community is about how we invite and welcome team members to the FN Family, whether they are new hires or team members from acquired companies. This might include a facilitated exploration of values in practice, internal communications, personal stories, celebrating positive behaviors, providing safe spaces for honest dialogue, convening to discuss social issues, peer support, mentoring, and other forums to explore commonalities and unique characteristics. FiscalNote is committed to creating community – inside and out.
In 2021, FiscalNoters participated in more than 2,000 company-sponsored team member experiences designed to connect team members with common interests and to share diverse perspectives. These events ranged from open hack-a-thon sessions to a “Day of Understanding” packed with workshops for team members to attend, to fireside chats with clients about social justice and challenges facing underserved communities, veterans, and those with disabilities. Our Gender & Life series was sponsored by numerous organizational leaders to tackle topics like work-life integration, overcoming gender stereotypes in tech, and advocating for our team members’ career interests.
Sometimes creating community is rooted in clarifying the guardrails and standards for day-to-day operations and team member interactions. All FiscalNote team members participated in required compliance training in the last quarter of 2021, with assigned training in ethical workplace behaviors, data privacy, cyber security, and harassment and discrimination prevention, and new hires are assigned these trainings upon onboarding. We also launched our ethical workplace training and an anonymous ethics and whistleblower hotline and website to reinforce our commitment to an ethical and equitable workplace.
Externally, our social responsibility programs are making a positive impact in our local communities. We host a yearly day of service, Wendy’s Day, in memory of our colleague, Wendy Martinez. FiscalNote team members partner with local organizations such as Friendicoes of India, Greater Baton Rouge Foodbank, D.C. Central Kitchen, and Food Bank for New York City, to participate in a day of service. FiscalNote also partners with organizations such as Girls on the Run, Latinas in Tech, and Women Who Code, hosting organizational meetings at our D.C. headquarters. Our People team members also adopt a local school and offer resume and career development services to high school students in the D.C. area.
We also seek opportunities to share our lessons learned and best practices in speaking engagements and podcasts such as the DEI Summit for Women in Government Relations, Ragan’s DEI Conference, All Voices Podcasts, and InnovationMinds: At the Edge Podcast.
Learn and lead is about how we enroll others in constructive dialogue, self-reflection, and a call to action and allyship. This might include programs, experiences, and discussions for learning with an emphasis on leadership and personal accountability for behavior and reducing bias.
FiscalNote considers leadership and team member development a key component of social responsibility. In 2021, FiscalNote designed and launched an inclusive leadership program focused on empathy, engaged leadership, and social equating. This program was compulsory for leaders, as was our coaching culture practices program. Ensuring managers deliver consistent, constructive feedback, and encouraging self-reflection and allyship for team members throughout the year strengthens our culture.
To address more fundamental management skills development for supervisors, high potentials, and those new to the organization in people manager roles, we also launched Management 101, which helps new leaders understand their roles and responsibilities in the organization, resources available to support them, and behavioral expectations.
We also incorporated programming for team members in customer contact roles to cope with the strain of difficult customer situations and for those whose roles put them on the front lines of potentially traumatic situations of social unrest.
Going forward, we will continue to reinforce our current programs and initiatives with additional investment in internal gigging, workforce planning, and strong employer branding to attract diverse candidates to our organization where our launch of intersectional employee resource and affinity groups will further amplify the unique combinations of every team member in our FiscalNote community.
FiscalNote’s core values are bolstered by our commitment to ethical business practices, outlined in our Code of Ethical Business Conduct, which is applicable to all of our interactions with employees, customers, business partners, and shareholders.
FiscalNote is committed to the following ethical principles in all its activities:
FiscalNote is committed to the ethical treatment of those with whom we do business:
FiscalNote is committed to ethical business practices in its business dealings with third parties. FiscalNote also conducts its business in compliance with all applicable international, national, and local anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws and regulations in places where it operates. Accordingly, FiscalNote does not tolerate bribery in its dealings involving public officials or private commercial transactions, or illegal business practices of any kind. FiscalNoters are expected to always act with integrity and ethics, in a manner that creates value for our customers and partners and helps build relationships based on trust.
All FiscalNote employees, employees of all FiscalNote affiliates, officers, and directors are required to:
We also expect our contractors and other business partners to both follow the ethical principles set forth in the Code, as well as applicable laws, rules, and regulations, and to help hold us accountable by reporting matters of potential concern.
Team members are encouraged to report any potential ethical violations to their supervisors, the Legal Department, or anonymously to our interactive, online email or web intake integrity hotline reporting system (“Hotline”), which is available in all countries and available at all hours. Additionally, in 2021, all team members across the globe were required to participate in a code of conduct training online to ensure that all team members know when to utilize the hotline and are aware of potential ethical violations. Team members are also assigned this training program upon onboarding and it is refreshed periodically thereafter.
Team members and FiscalNote business partners also may use the Hotline to confidentially seek guidance and advice regarding the Code, or to report certain types of workplace misconduct or compliance concerns without fear of retaliation. The Hotline system is provided and managed by an outside, independent company that has no other relationship to FiscalNote. Team members are always encouraged to seek compliance advice from, or to report misconduct to, their supervisor or other contacts within their department, or the People or Legal Departments. The Hotline is an alternative resource for seeking guidance or reporting perceived violations of the Code of Ethical Business Conduct, workplace misconduct, or other compliance concerns.
In keeping with our value of "Find the Truth," FiscalNote will not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or discriminate against any team member who contacts the Hotline in good faith to report complaints or misconduct. FiscalNote prohibits retaliation against any individual who, in good faith, reports discrimination, harassment, bullying, violence, or a breach of law or of the Code, or any individual who participates in or otherwise supports, an investigation of such reports. Team members who may be the subject of reports will be informed of any allegations against them, and of their rights, as required and as soon as practicable. If there is a substantial risk of jeopardizing FiscalNote’s ability to effectively investigate the allegations or gather necessary evidence, measures will be implemented before the information is conveyed.
We recognize that FiscalNote must take action to ensure the objectives of the Code are met. We assure team members that:
Many of the efforts which are the subject of our 2021 Sustainability & Social Impact Overview were further enhanced and expanded in 2022, and will be the subject of our next update in early 2023.
Some examples of our ongoing sustainability-related initiatives during 2022 include:
* All information and data provided in “Our Journey to a Sustainable Future” covers the period from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021.** This document was first officially published at FiscalNote.com/fiscalnote-sustainability-2021 on October 31, 2022.