How one gay man is driving a green revolution on Britain’s roads
Combatting the climate crisis is perhaps the most unifying mission of our generation.
Around the world, governments, businesses and communities are working to end our reliance on fossil fuels; to reduce damaging emissions which are causing the earth to heat up with potentially irreversible effects; and to encourage a more considerate, sustainable way of living.
One company that is seeking to make real change is Zipcar: the UK’s biggest car-sharing service which allows members to drive their cars and vans by the minute, hour or day – all booked via its app.
Car-sharing also has sustainability at its heart: by encouraging members to own fewer private vehicles it reduces congestion and emissions. Zipcar’s serious about sustainability too: it already has 325 fully electric cars, and is working to be fully electric by 2025. So far it has already saved more than 83,000kg of CO2.
Zipcar’s UK operation is run by James Taylor, a proud gay man who has worked tirelessly to build a diverse and talented team committed to putting sustainability at the heart of everything they do. He told PinkNews how Zipcar is working to make cities more sustainable while also fostering a diverse work environment for all employees.
PinkNews: What drew you to Zipcar?
James Taylor: I joined Zipcar in December 2019. The opportunity to work for the UK’s largest car-sharing company, a brand that people know and love, was a massive draw. I’m really lucky that I have a great team that are all as passionate as me about encouraging city dwellers to give up their private car and make more sustainable, greener transport choices through switching to car sharing.
Our mission is to enable simple and responsible urban living. Our cities are fantastic places to live and work, but they also face unprecedented challenges from increased congestion and pollution. Because our cars are shared, for every vehicle in our fleet we remove up to 13 privately owned vehicles from UK roads. Not only does that free up space for other things such as cycle lanes and parklets but it also changes how people travel around our cities.
Where does your passion for sustainability come from and how do you weave that into your leadership role at Zipcar?
The great thing about working at Zipcar is being able to see the impact of what we’re doing as an organisation. It is hugely motivational not just for me but also for the team. We can demonstrate that impact in a number of ways – from showing how many of our members have given up a private car to join us, to how many have driven an electric vehicle for the first time with us, for example.
Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do as an organisation, so in some ways it’s easier. I don’t need to weave it into my role, it’s what we’re about. At the same time, it’s important that we don’t rest on our laurels from the big things to the little things – whether continuing to invest in our electric fleet or making changes within our offices – minimising our use of plastic, ensuring we recycle as much as we can to choosing our suppliers carefully and responsibly.
How has Zipcar worked to create an inclusive and accepting environment for LGBT+ employees?
Zipcar has long been a supporter of LGBTQ organisations and equal rights and, as a gay man, that was definitely a motivating factor in joining the organisation. As general manager, it is my role to reinforce this message and continue to ensure that we have an accepting environment for all.
For example, we have a number of employee groups which celebrate diversity within the organisation, but which also focus on bringing more education and resources to the company, helping drive further change from within.
Our community of members come from all walks of life and backgrounds and it’s important our workforce reflects that diversity as well. A diverse workforce also ensures we get different perspectives – we all bring something different to the role, which means we get better results. Being able to be your true, honest self in the workplace not only means you are happier in the workplace, but also allows you to perform better. That’s certainly something I’ve experienced throughout my career.
Do you have any LGBT+ role models or heroes that have helped inspire you in your career?
The people that have inspired me the most are the managers and leaders I’ve had throughout my career – I guess you’d call them LGBT+ allies. They accepted me for who I was, provided leadership and guidance, got to know me on a personal level and gave me opportunities to grow. I hope I’ve taken something from each of these to become a better leader and the person I am today.
How does Zipcar plan on growing sustainably?
We have set out a vision to have a fully electric fleet by 2025. As a first step towards delivering on our vision, we introduced 325 e-Golfs into our fleet in 2018. Since then they have become the most popular vehicle in the fleet.
In not even three years over 66,000 members have driven an electric vehicle (EV) with us, taking nearly 700,000 trips and driving over 4.2million EV miles. That equates to over 83,000kg of CO2 savings.