In this new era of global environmental awareness, many organisations still avoid fully embracing sustainability and corporate social responsibility in fear of excessive costs, impeding productivity, and straining internal resources.
But, as it turns out, good IT sustainability practices can increase employee satisfaction, improve brand loyalty, and, ultimately, yield healthy returns. According to HP’s 2017 Sustainable Impact Report, sustainability was the company’s key differentiator for over $700 million in new revenue in late 2017.
On top of that, a significant mindset adjustment is forming within the younger generations: According to the Deloitte Millenial Survey 2018, 80 percent of millennials believe business success should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance and should make a positive impact on society and the environment. In other words, investing in IT sustainability can give businesses a better competitive edge, attract like-minded, hardworking talent, and change the world for the better.
So, how can you feasibly place sustainability at the heart of business practices? Here are some handy tips to help you achieve just that through fostering sustainability, improving employee equity, and demonstrating greater corporate responsibility.
1. Less is more
No doubt you’ve heard about the importance of reducing carbon footprints. Less greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, can slow the effects of climate change that affect everything from food crops, air pollution, and water quality, to global weather and the overall health of our planet.
As an IT leader, you can make a difference through purchase and process decisions that will reduce the carbon footprint of your organisation. Here are two simple practices you can implement right away:
- Turn off equipment after hours.
Leaving large appliances, lighting, and other equipment on when the work space is unoccupied is not only costly, but it can also double energy consumption. Work with the facilities team to ensure nonessential systems are turned off after hours and urge all employees to power off their workstations before leaving for the day.
- Upgrade to environmentally responsible tech.
Technology products represent some of the most significant challenges for organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprint. However, many tech companies are building more eco-friendly products. It’s worthwhile choosing vendors that prioritise sustainability best practices. Selecting devices with higher energy efficiency and recycling old laptops, printers, and toner cartridges can make a big difference to reduce the organisation-wide carbon footprint.
2. Think: equality, diversity, and personal development
Sustainability isn’t just about “going green.” You also need to prepare an organisation to be sustainable well into the future and cope with the unique challenges that it may face. In the world of tech, this means solving the talent gap. The solution? Greater diversity and workplace equality.
Candi Castleberry Singleton, vice president of intersectionality, culture, and diversity at Twitter, has spent her life helping organisations create more inclusive work environments. When asked about her thoughts on the importance of diversity in the workplace, she had the following insightful advice: “The myth I often find in tech is that any one tech company can solve the diversity deficit alone . . . Sustainable diversity solutions will require industry, educational and government collaboration . . . to ensure diversity and intersectionality is at the center of the business model.”
Here are a few changes that can be made to improve equality, diversity, and personal development in the workplace:
- Provide more opportunities for personal development.
Investing in employee education is especially important in the world of IT, as the industry is always in flux. Providing opportunities for education and skill development on the job improves employee engagement and ensures your team is knowledgeable on the latest industry tools and best practices.
- More women and minority groups in leadership positions.
Diversity and inclusion are crucial to business success in the modern era. Going back to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 again, Australian millennials’ opinion on the motivation and ethics of businesses is at its lowest level in four years. If you want these diverse young workers to stick around, promote people from a broad variety of backgrounds.
The HP 2017 Sustainable Impact Report also notes that its board of directors comprises 40 percent women and 50 percent minority groups. And as a result, 85 percent of employees report feeling that the organisation values diversity.
Advancing women and minority groups into leadership roles provides a better representation of the greater population, which results in a workplace where everyone feels more comfortable.
3. Support your community
No organisation can be sustainable without supporting the community in which it resides. Whether you’re assisting with disaster relief and recovery, volunteering time, or providing resources for schools, parks, libraries, and local nonprofits, helping the community ensures an organisation is trusted and has the space to thrive.
Plus, giving back to local communities builds a better reputation, which can attract more customers and top talent. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 58 percent of general population employees say they look to their employer to be a trustworthy source of information about contentious societal issues. But even beyond that, 76 percent of the general population says they want their business leaders to take the lead on change instead of waiting around for government to impose it.
If you want to make an impact, now is the time. While sustainability is not something you can achieve overnight—in fact, the practice of sustainability is never complete—it’s something your organisation must commit to improving every year from here on out. By using these tips, you can emerge as a leader in IT sustainability and workplace equality while positioning your organisation for long-term future success.