Money

WeWork $20bn shared office space group rejects anything animal on employee expenses claim

Is this a real effort to help the environment, or just an exercise in brand building? And would you consider implementing this kind of policy in your own workplace?

Meat is off the menu for the employees of one of the world’s hottest startups. WeWork, the shared office space provider valued at $20bn, has told its 6,000 staff it will not pay expenses for meals containing meat.

The policy was announced in an internal memo written by Miguel McKelvey, WeWork’s billionaire co-founder. “We have made a commitment to be a meat-free organization,” McKelvey wrote. “Moving forward, we will not serve or pay for meat at WeWork events and want to clarify that this includes poultry and pork, as well as red meat.”

McKelvey cited new research from the journal Science that “avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact”. He added that the policy will “save an estimated 16.7 billion gallons of water, 445.1 million pounds of CO2 emissions, and over 15 million animals by 2023”.

A WeWork spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the new policy will remove red meat, poultry and pork from the expenses policy. The company was, however, “not prohibiting WeWork staff or members from bringing in meat-based meals they’ve paid for themselves”.

Members can also still host their own events at WeWork locations and serve meat they’ve paid for themselves. And fish is still covered by WeWork’s T&E policy.

WeWork’s new policy has inspired some comments already. Slate referred to the policy as “tyrannical” and “draconian”, pointing out that WeWork’s 10 million square feet of office space was far more problematic than the food its employees ate.

The UK’s largest union also told the BBC that workers shouldn’t be punished for their dietary choices. “Employees should be encouraged to make healthy choices. They should not be left out of pocket if they choose to eat meat.”

For Jonny Vowles, CEO of automated expenses tool Expend, the move also raises questions around the practical application of the policy.

“While potentially a divisive policy change, WeWork’s heart is in the right place. However, this may be overshadowed by how to police the regulation with over 6,000 employees worldwide.

No one is going to manually check every food receipt to ensure it is meat free and not all receipts will be as obvious as stating ‘steak and chips,'” said Vowles.

According to Vowles, a new breed of expense tools will help finance and HR teams apply the policy more rigorously and allow businesses to itemise details of employees’ expenditure, quickly and efficiently.

“In WeWork’s case, the finance and HR teams can then perform spot checks that food claims appear to be meat-free if they so wish,” continued Vowles. “The ability to log expenses with the required level of detail at the point of purchase will be more likely to drive employee compliance with this expenses policy, helping it to serve a long-lasting purpose, beyond simply grabbing news headlines.”

I am not a fan of war. I would point out the Romans before going into battle told the troops not to eat anything animal. It was said because the Romans had evidence that eating animals made the army weak.

It appears WeWork will benefit from a stronger work force.

And yes our body contains an appendix organ common to all herbivores and not common to carnivores or omnivores.

Is this a real effort to help the environment, or just an exercise in brand building? And would you consider implementing this kind of policy in your own workplace?

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