With World Environment Day celebrated every year on June 5, to inspire positive change and put the spotlight on the importance of sustainability and protecting our environment, the corporate world has also to contribute its share to this objective.
Paying attention to environmental issues has become increasingly critical for companies across all industries and World Environment Day continues to serve as a prominent reminder every year, for businesses and individuals, to re-evaluate ways to ensure they are doing the best they can to protect and restore the planet.
Expectations of corporate responsibility continue to increase and right now, consumers are demanding greater transparency from companies on this count and pushing for more to be done about sustainability.
However, for many companies, a key challenge faced while implementing their corporate environmental responsibility (CER) is getting a buy-in from all key stakeholders and making sure that everyone is on the same page, says Randy Goh, regional vice president, Asia at information management company OpenText.
In an interaction with People Matters, Goh talks about the common mistakes organisations make while tackling sustainability and what a good CER programme should look like for an organisation.
Here are a few excerpts:
What are key business challenges for companies when implementing CER?
For many companies, a key challenge faced while implementing their corporate environmental responsibility is getting a buy-in from all key stakeholders and making sure that everyone is on the same page. Companies need to present a united front when it comes to business ethics, and a broad range of beliefs and priorities within a corporate culture can lead to vastly different goals for an organisation’s sustainability initiatives.
The growing consumer consciousness has created a strong business case for organisations to relook at their sustainability posture.
A recent study from OpenText revealed that 89% of the consumers surveyed feel strongly about buying products that are ethically and sustainably sourced. Additionally, when shopping online, 59% of Singaporean consumers now make a conscious effort to purchase locally sourced or produced items to support local businesses and reduce their carbon footprint.
Additionally, companies may find it difficult to connect these initiatives to profitability. When managed correctly, CER activities can generate a lot of value, such as cost saving by taking eco-friendly measures such as printing less or attracting new talent by doing good for the environment.
The belief that CER must be simply a cost with no benefit might be hindering companies when it should not, as companies struggle to find an initiative that works well within its value chain, its business strategies, its vision, and what their people want.
What common mistakes do organisations make in the sustainability drive? What are they doing right and what should they change?
Organisations need to be more collaborative and define their sustainability goals to establish their commitment. Adopting measurable goals can help organisations stay on track and track progress.
For example, our environmental policy articulates our commitment to measuring and managing our environmental impact. Energy management, data center initiatives, waste reduction and diversion, employee education and engagement are all key OpenText activities that support our environmental goals.
Energy – OpenText plans to reduce its energy consumption per dollar revenue by 5% by June 30, 2023
Carbon – OpenText plans to reduce its scope 1 & 2 greenhouse gas emissions per dollar revenue by 5% by June 30, 2023
Waste – OpenText plans to work toward a goal of 65% diversion rate in our regional headquarters by June 30, 2023
It is heartening to see many businesses adopting CER as a key part of their business practices to bring about positive impact rather than crossing off an action item from a checklist. More and more companies are investing in CER, whether big or small, and even using their voice to speak out about social and environmental issues on their various communication channels.
What should a good CER programme look like?
An effective environment programme should be measurable and aligned to the organisation - its vision, business goals and preferably a part of their operations.
At OpenText, we believe the greatest challenge humanity faces in the long-term may not be the pandemic, but climate change. We believe in our core that the future of growth is sustainable and inclusive.
We have committed to the OpenText ZERO initiative that has laid out concrete benchmarks as we strive towards zero emissions, zero waste and zero barriers. We are committing to net zero GHGs by 2040. Zero waste from operations by 2030. We will also partner with local organisations to enhance education opportunities and tackle food insecurity in the communities where we work and live.
It is important to work with internal and external stakeholders including suppliers, customers, government agencies and the local community they operate in.
Identifying key areas where organisation can contribute to the greater good can help steer efforts in the right direction promising a continuous, steady, impact over the longer term.