Over the past few years, sustainability has been rising swiftly up the corporate agenda. However, thus far, real change has failed to materialise. Even though businesses in the UK are well aware of the need for more sustainable practices, 35% of UK executives and leaders still struggle to ‘align their eco-commitments with their overall business strategy’.
So how can businesses integrate sustainability into their day to day business practices? We spoke to seven industry leaders to get their advice on going green.
Aligning everyday business operations
One of the more obvious steps that businesses can take to improve their impact on the planet is to work to reduce their carbon footprint during their everyday business operations.
Anna Allwright, Strategy Specialist at Cubic Transportation Systems, said: “Cubic is proud to announce that all our office locations offer diligent recycling programmes as well as energy-efficient lighting, water and appliances. We are also aiming to cut our carbon emissions in the coming years and our 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report, which will be published shortly, will break down how we further lowered our water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and more.”
“At Aqilla, we use energy-efficient servers and have removed all filing cabinets in an effort to go paperless — and we don’t offer company cars to staff,” added Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla. “We take our CSR very seriously and encourage everyone to look again at how they could make their businesses more ecological and sustainable.”
Technology as a solution
As well as considering how their offices can be more green, organisations should also consider altering their broader business processes. Technological advancements often mean that with some smart thinking, changes can be made that will improve sustainability without compromising business efficiency.
“Retail businesses who invest in the latest order management software have a much better chance of both meeting their customers’ needs whilst still increasing their sustainability. This software allows retailers to ensure that the right products are being manufactured at the right time, without overproduction that could lead to waste. It can also be used to improve delivery procedures – for example, by grouping products together for fewer deliveries,” added Rob Shaw, SVP Global Sales at Fluent Commerce. “Technology also enables customers to choose a delivery method according to their area, so that the retailer can deliver multiple goods to customers who live in the same place, rather than having to do individual trips on different days. They can also choose click and collect options to fit in with journeys they are already taking, saving a home delivery altogether. While these kinds of changes can make a huge difference to the sustainability of a brand, they require top-down investment into the technology to make them possible. Whilst it may seem like a large investment initially, the long term dividends in terms of the benefits to the planet and to the brand’s public reputation are invaluable.”
“With financial institutions now keen to ensure their investments have a wider social impact beyond just generating returns, organisations are being asked to provide evidence-based data to demonstrate they understand the impact of their carbon footprint on the earth,” said Gerard O’Keeffe, Managing Director of Utilities and Infrastructure at Totalmobile. “To do this they need to utilise digital technologies to transform workflows, gain data insights and proactively integrate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards into organisational priorities.”
“The sustainability of every organisation depends on addressing the impact of its operations across the supply chain. Everything from water consumption, pollution and plastic reduction to carbon emissions, waste and recycling is part of the equation and data science modelling is increasingly being used by businesses to assess the likely impact of their actions and the quality of decision-making,” concluded Rich Pugh, Chief Data Scientist at Ascent.
New technologies, new challenges
However, new technologies can also give rise to new challenges. Terry Storrar, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK, advised organisations to be aware of the environmental impact of any new technology and to ensure that they take steps to mitigate this. He said: “The data centre industry has an unspoken mandate to change its ways. Expected to become the biggest global consumer of electricity in the ICT sector by 2025, the data centre industry is set to leave a far from desirable footprint in the wake of the current climate change agenda.
“Businesses – large and small – have seen their Digital Transformation efforts accelerated by a global pandemic, meaning workers need access to data 24/7, from wherever they are, on any device. So, data centres must accommodate expectations of increasing uptime and round-the-clock accessibility. As businesses continue to become aware of the benefits of cloud services, the growth of the data centre industry is set to increase. While this presents great opportunities for the data centre sector, we must remain aware of the sustainability black mark that could soon have an adverse effect on the industry’s reputation and future success.”
Looking to the future
One option for businesses looking to invest in a sustainable future is to invest in green upskilling, offering employees the opportunity to prioritise learning and development in that area.
Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer at Skillsoft, said: “At Skillsoft, we’re witnessing first-hand a sharp rise in green skilling in organisations around the world. Digital learning is the driving force, both in helping to raise awareness about factors contributing to climate change and equipping workforces with the skills needed to operate in a ‘greener’ manner.
“Skillsoft’s new data shows that organisations have made green Learning and Development (L&D) a much greater priority over the last 12 months. Comparing consumption of green learning content on Skillsoft Percipio in 2021 to the year prior, we observed:
- 73% increase in organisations and 237% increase in learners accessing green content;
- 218% increase in the number of badges earned by learners upon completion of green courses;
- 134% increase in the number of searches for green content;
- 131% increase in total number of learning hours spent on green content.
“As our planet’s environment changes, so do its effects on the business world. From natural resources to energy sources to supply chains, businesses must adapt or be left behind. The time is now for business leaders to invest in upskilling current and future green talent and for the global workforce to do its part to learn individual green skills that, together, will drive collective change.”Click below to share this article