How going digital is the first step to sustainability

Sustainability Tech Metro Africa

Going digital isn’t just about making our working lives easier and more flexible. Information and communication technology (ICT) solutions have the potential to help lower global COemissions by 20% by 2030.

 There are many ways that digital technology can promote sustainable ways of working. Going digital means that there’s less need to:

  • Travel. People can work together effectively even though they’re not in the same place.
  • Have lots of equipment. Not necessary once a business has moved to the cloud.
  • Use energy keeping on-premise hardware online. Organisations simply won’t need it anymore.

  If you haven’t made the move to digital yet, now’s the time. With the right solutions, it’s possible to find a balance between sustainability, security and efficiency that works for your organisation.

 A balanced, tailored approach to sustainability

There’s evidence to support a balanced approach to digital working, with some roles remaining face-to-face, for example in hospitality, and others ‘going digital’. Before Coronavirus, the move to digital working was typically a slow one. The key to success was deciding how digital working could add value and where there was still a need for a human touch. Under the current lockdown, many of us have quickly moved to a digital work environment but once things return to normal, the right digital working balance will be found by organisations using digital technology more flexibly.

 Develop the leading edge: technology, employees, customers and partners

Sustainability isn’t just about using laptops to work from home. It’s also about looking at a business’ entire operation to find out where they can introduce more sustainable ways of working. And below I’ve outlined four aspects that should be at the top of the business’ list of considerations.

 #1 Technology

Companies with a competitive technological edge are likely to do better than their peers but equally, sustainability is an important market differentiator. In fact, it’s becoming so integral to business that investors see a lack of interest in sustainability as a risk to their investment. So, by combining a leading technology platform with sustainable ways of working, organisations can lead the way in their market.

 #2 Employees

Employees are another key consideration. In order to reach the carbon reduction targets of the region, companies need to recruit talented people who understand the importance of sustainability. The more sustainable an organisation tries to be, the more likely they are to recruit people who will help them to achieve this goal.

Research notes that  40% of millennials have taken a job because of a company’s good sustainability credentials – and a further 10 per cent would take a pay cut as social consciousness of the impacts of climate change and related environmental issues continues to rise, we expect that this sentiment may be true for many employees – particularly millennials whom increasingly make up more of the workforce – across markets.

 #3 Customers

 Like employees, customer focus is also increasingly shifting to sustainability. We work with Unilever and they have recognised the importance of having all their products related to a sustainability goal, whether ethical, societal or environmental. Their Sustainable Living Brands grew 69% faster than the rest of the business in 2018, up from 46% in 2017. Because of this, Unilever are now reviewing products and potential divestments that don’t have a clear link to a purpose.

 #4 Partners

Strides toward sustainability shouldn’t be made in isolation. It’s important for an organisation to recognise their purchasing power and to work with others to ensure their supply chain is striving for sustainability.

With the abovementioned aspects in mind, environmental sustainability should be end-to-end and include employees, operations, customers, value chains and the industries you work with.

By Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Environmental Sustainability for BT