Article: Earth Day 2024: Why green initiatives can fall short


Earth Day 2024: Why green initiatives can fall short

From cutting carbon footprints to embracing cutting-edge eco-solutions, companies worldwide are reimagining their operations for a healthier planet.
Earth Day 2024: Why green initiatives can fall short

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22nd, is a powerful reminder of our environmental responsibility. It highlights pressing issues like pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, urging us towards a more sustainable future.

Climate change is a defining challenge of our times, and businesses are increasingly recognising sustainability as a core principle.  It's not just about the bottom line; it's about people, planet, and profit.  Innovative solutions for waste management, eco-friendly practices, and carbon footprint reduction are gaining traction across industries. 

Capgemini's Indian facilities, for instance, are powered entirely by renewable energy, according to Vijay Chandramohan, Head, CRES -India and APAC.  He highlights their use of innovative technologies like battery storage and smart energy management systems to revolutionise and decarbonize the energy sector.

For Boeing Global Enterprise Services, India, sustainability isn't an afterthought; it's woven into everything they do – from employees, products, and operations to community engagement.  Ritu Sharma, Executive Director, emphasises collaboration with industry partners, governments, and NGOs to develop sustainable solutions for Boeing and the aerospace industry as a whole.  "Sustainability is a lens through which we view every stage of the product lifecycle," she says.

Shivdutt Das, Executive Director of Vishwa Samudra Group, echoes this sentiment.  "Sustainability is paramount, alongside quality and efficiency," he asserts.  Their green road construction technology, StabilRoad, reduces reliance on aggregates, while their Ecolastic compostable packaging replaces single-use plastics.  "We take from nature, so we strive to give back," Das says.

Sustainability stands at the core of our purpose, culture, and business, says Binu Philip, Zone Vice President - Human Resources (CHRO), Schneider Electric Greater India. "To drive sustainability, we integrate strong profitability with leadership across all environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects. We engage our entire ecosystem, including employees, supply chain partners, customers, local communities, and institutions, in our journey."

The roadblocks to going green

Ritu Sharma highlights the importance of the human element. Sustainability shouldn't come at the cost of employee well-being.  Sustainable practices need to consider the social and economic well-being of employees alongside the environmental impact.

Vijay Chandramohan emphasises the rise of sustainable technologies.  Data-driven tools can streamline operations, reduce footprints, and cut emissions. However, the challenge lies in creating truly sustainable digital systems.  Balancing these goals with broader sustainability objectives requires careful planning.

Chandramohan further emphasises the need for a strong framework and roadmap. Businesses must thoroughly assess their current practices to create a sustainable future.  A critical piece often missed is sustainable IT.  Companies need to integrate this aspect into their overall sustainability strategy.

Uma Thomas, Chief Risk Officer & Head of Quality, Information Security and ESG at Hexaware, stresses the importance of employee education. Effectively engaging and educating employees about sustainability practices and how they can contribute is crucial for success.  A well-informed workforce is a powerful driver of change.

Uma points out that many companies retrofit sustainability practices onto existing operations.  Integrating sustainability from the very beginning of the planning process leads to better long-term results.

Greenhouse gas emissions from business travel and employee commutes remain a significant concern. Collaboration technologies can reduce travel needs, while opting for public transportation, carpooling, or less polluting travel options can further minimize emissions. 

Sustainability extends beyond the office walls.  Food waste, water usage, and responsible sourcing are all aspects that require attention.  Uma suggests encouraging suppliers to adopt strong ESG practices to create a truly sustainable value chain.

One aspect that's often overlooked in sustainability practices at the workplace is the impact of individual behaviors, believes Binu. "While companies may implement large-scale sustainability initiatives, the day-to-day actions of employees can significantly influence overall environmental impact. Encouraging and educating employees about energy conservation, waste reduction, and responsible resource usage can play a crucial role in achieving holistic sustainability goals."

Mili Dutta, Head- Human Resources, EverEnviro Resource Management, believes nurturing a culture of mindfulness and inclusivity is key. "We encourage our employees to innovate and contribute to our sustainability goals, ensuring that our commitment to the environment extends beyond business operations to every individual’s role."

By acknowledging these often-overlooked aspects, businesses can create a more comprehensive and effective approach to workplace sustainability.  This will not only benefit the environment but also foster a more engaged and environmentally conscious workforce.

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Topics: Business, #DayInFocus, #WorldEarthDay, #HRCommunity

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