Are sustainability and business strategies two side of the same coin?
As the emphasis on green practices and corporate social responsibility increases, it is encouraging to see more organisations focus on the measurable outcomes. We believe that a lot more needs to be done; organisations could look to building the foundations of Earth-conscious thinking, with focused effort and innovative ideas that align with global Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.
The key to unlocking such positive outcomes for society and the environment is to have a comprehensive approach to sustainability and commit to addressing critical challenges facing the global community. As organisations rapidly digitise, there is a more urgent need to look at their technology choices, process optimizations and people centric policies to help reduce their carbon footprint. Here are three key areas for organisations to focus on:
Embedding sustainability into product innovation
The average carbon footprint per person is close to 4 tons. This average number needs to drop to 2 tons by 2050.1 Technology organisations must consciously focus on helping customers decarbonize their infrastructure, to get to these numbers faster. From a macro level, this can be enabled by driving radical efficiency for customer workloads and moving towards zero carbon cloud. At the ground level, however, some examples of how this can be achieved include streamlining customers’ multi-cloud story to reduce wastage in terms of time and resources; accelerating the productivity and carbon efficiency of their digital operations; enabling transparency to the carbon reduction impact of innovations; and catalyzing the transition to Zero Carbon Clouds.
Building our human capital
With an increasing focus on diversity, equity and digital workspace technology, organisations need to redefine the workplace of the future and empower employees in distributed workforces with equal opportunity, inclusive leadership, and increased flexibility. It’s not just about creating an environment for growth – it’s also about giving them the right opportunities and tools to develop as people and professionals, while taking customers as well as partners along on the journey. Consequently, the ESG goals addressed could span areas such as an ‘anywhere workforce’ for employees and customers, a culture of service, supplier diversity, equitable pay, and wellbeing.
It’s also important to sustain employee interest by creating an environment conducive for employees to volunteer and/or play the role of ESG ambassadors and advocates. Supporting their enthusiasm and sense of purpose by tailoring policies that help put the choice in their hands is important too. Think of new benefits that work to improve the professional and personal lives of employees’ post-pandemic, taking a more human-centric approach to foster sustainability through flexible work, hybrid work, pandemic leave and wellbeing policies that provide financial aid to employees – no questions asked.
Partnering across industry to drive trust and consequently, change
Imagine a future where customers are confident that their data is secure and being used responsibly, employees can be sure their companies are transparent and ethical, and all stakeholders are effectively safeguarded from cyberattacks threatening our digital world. Creating this future requires action-oriented collaboration now. There’s a need to develop industry partnerships with peer organisations to learn from each other, partner on common projects and arrive at game changing ideas for the future that we can bring forward as a collective force.
When such goals are measurable, integrated throughout the company, they also serve as a framework to operationalize an organisation’s ESG strategy. It is about keeping the spark of innovation alive and ensuring accountability for our actions. I can share from experience that working with like-minded organisations results in far greater impact.
Walking the talk with ESG Goals
The culture of sustainability can extend to customers, partners, and employees too. For instance, from a technology perspective, bringing more visibility to software developers on their own practices could help them write better code that requires less rewrite and build failure that reduces utilization of compute resources. A dashboard that converts their practices into a counting of carbon footprint thus connecting process to outcomes, could be in accountability.
What is required now is proactive action and being predictive in our approach to climate change, by preparing operations for the worst impacts and developing business resilience programs that are supported by a skilled crisis management team. We could start with actions that can be implemented swiftly. For instance, physical workspaces, especially those in Bangalore and other metros, can be powered with 100% renewable energy in partnership with renewable energy producers, rework their processes for zero waste and optimal water utilisation thus working towards gaining LEED Platinum Certifications for their offices. There is room for turning logistics and employee movement solutions more environment friendly with EV fleets charged through green power. These are a few examples but there’s so much more organisations can do with mindful practices.
As global corporate citizens, we have been presented with the opportunity and responsibility to innovate for a greener, more resilient world. Through our collective efforts to drive net-zero emissions across operations and intrinsic sustainability in our solutions, we must strive to inspire the next generation of sustainable digital infrastructure. And that could be the result of a truly sustainable business strategy.