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Interview: Nitin Garg - Intuit

Nitin Garg

This issue, journalist Sean Hargrave meets Intuit’s global customer sustainability leader, who is launching a data-driven effort to help small and micro businesses reduce their environmental impact. 


In 2020, Intuit, the company behind well-known financial software services including TurboTax, QuickBooks, CreditKarma and Mailchimp, declared a climate positive goal: it committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, outside of its operational footprint, by 2 million tonnes by 2030. This is the equivalent of taking 430,000 cars off the road for a year. 

It is a huge challenge but reflects Intuit’s corporate philosophy: that to effect true change, companies must look beyond their own operations and help their customers reduce their environmental impact too. 

This philosophy emerged from a realisation that cutting its own emissions would not be enough to make a difference in the fight against climate change, says Nitin Garg, Intuit’s global customer sustainability leader. “There’s a conviction we have to be doing as much as possible in our customer relationships to really drive a larger impact.” 

Support for smaller businesses 

It is especially important for Intuit to share climate action experience with its customers, Garg believes, as they tend to be small and micro businesses that do not otherwise have access to sustainability expertise. 

“Small and micro businesses represent 90% of the world’s companies and roughly half of global GDP, yet, unlike large companies that have full-time sustainability staff, small businesses do not have the help or advice they need,” he says. 

Nevertheless, these businesses are just as keen to play their part as their larger peers. “We started talking to customers and it was clear they really do care,” Garg says. “They want to reduce their environmental impact but it’s difficult for them to take action because they often lack advice and there are economic constraints on them.” 

Intuit’s customer sustainability outreach is just beginning and there are various potential initiatives where advice can, or will, be passed on.

Launched at COP26 last year, Intuit’s Climate Action Marketplace helps small businesses to reduce their impact on the environment by selecting sustainable solutions. With one click, the marketplace allows users to replace high carbon activities across energy, travel, office supplies and other categories with more sustainable alternatives, often at a discount. 

A second climate action solution, currently being beta tested, uses data from Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting service to determine how customers can make significant carbon reductions.

“We can leverage the data to see what kind of business activity a customer has, whether they make products or are service-based, and how much their gas, electricity and other additional bills might be,” Garg explains. “That helps us inform what recommendations we make in terms of what might be the most impactful action you can consider.” 

Recommendations might include switching to LED lightbulbs or electric cars, reducing food waste, or cutting down on product packaging, Garg explains. 

“We have also partnered with carbon footprint measurement partner, Normative, on a questionnaire that will help companies work out their emissions. 

“If customers find this useful, we will integrate it into QuickBooks so companies can get a good idea what their carbon footprint is automatically, using data to both reduce their impact and record the positive impact of the changes.” 

Small and micro businesses represent 90% of companies but often lack the in-house resources that large businesses have to tackle carbon emissions.

Seek out champions, at all levels 

Intuit’s strategy to help its customers tackle climate change draws heavily on technology and data. But forward- thinking executives considering a similar project must acknowledge that it is a people-first process, Garg advises.

In his experience, such initiatives are popular within organisations and among their customers. But the chief barrier to their success is securing the time and budget required to deliver them. 

These bumps in the road are best overcome by seeking buy-in from the C-suite, and then tapping into enthusiastic people at all layers of the company. 

“There’s usually one or two champions in any C-suite, and that champion can play a critical role in empowering positive action on climate that goes beyond their own company’s footprint,” he says. “You also need people at one or two layers underneath, the folks that might actually be thinking about specific ideas or implementations.” 


Policy leadership 

Even with Intuit’s help, Garg acknowledges, small and micro businesses will be challenged to make the transformational changes required to drastically cut their emissions – especially in the face of economic headwinds. 

“Small companies are trying to stay abreast of inflation, hiring pressure and supply chain disruptions,” he says. “It’s very difficult to do anything outside of that, and government policies can play an important role helping small businesses who are ready to be part of the solution.” 

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This article originally appeared in Thread, Edition 3. Thread is Kin + Carta’s quarterly magazine that cuts through the complexity of digital transformation. Making sustainable change real, achievable and attainable. 

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