Sustainability is key for organisations that want to stay competitive. A balanced, holistic approach is best, and that starts by going digital.
Gabrielle Ginér, head of environmental sustainability at BT, shares her thoughts
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 CO2 emissions 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.
We’re already seeing some of the environmental benefits of digital working. Our products and services helped customers avoid 11,7-million tonnes of carbon last year – that’s the equivalent carbon emissions of nearly 3-million UK households.
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.
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.
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.
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. In fact, research notes that in the UK market, 40% of millennials have taken a job because of a company’s good sustainability credentials – and a further 10% would take a £1 ,000 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.
At BT we have 16 000 suppliers and over £13-billion in global spend. And we are starting to ask key suppliers to reduce their carbon emissions over the life of their contract with us.
The importance of a holistic approach to 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.
We already have a zero carbon network in terms of the services we offer, so get in touch to find out more about how we can help your organisation to become more sustainable using the digital working tools that have worked for us.
BT’s sustainability journey
BT, we’ve been on a climate action journey for over 25 years, since setting our first carbon reduction target in 1992. In 2008, we tasked ourselves with cutting carbon emissions intensity by 80% by 2020, and we met this target four years ahead of time in 2016.
Our next goal is to cut carbon emissions intensity by 87% by 2030 – something that will herald a radical decarbonisation of the business. In addition, we want to become a net zero emissions business by 2045.
Our leadership journey is important to us because it’s important to our employees, customers and investors, too. It’s also saved us £300-million through energy efficiency in the past decade – proving sustainability is good for the bottom line too.