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CIOs Guide to Get Ahead on Environmental, Social and Governance Sustainability

By Swapnil Mishra - December 02, 2021 4 Mins Read

CIOs Guide to Get Ahead on Environmental_ Social and Governance-01

In most enterprises there are various potential sustainability ideas and projects that IT could support. The CIOs have to make sure the IT organization focuses on those that will actually drive the enterprise’s sustainability ambitions. Orchestrating the right technologies and practices is the key to meeting the ESG goals that an organization uses to track and report progress to both external and internal stakeholders.

CIOs play a key role in their business sustainability team, developing new technological solutions, services and IT / digital infrastructure and building important data platforms to drive a sustainable business strategy.

ESG scores are becoming more important every day. Positive ones can improve stock performance, customer interaction and reduce operating costs. A negative one can tarnish the firm’s reputation with job seekers, employees, customers, managers and investors.

These actions can be proven to be both strategic and effective:

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Involvement with Peer Activities for Sustainability

Actively engage with managers who drive ESG business sustainability programs to fully understand the specifics and context of business aspirations, ESG sustainability objectives, sustainability strategy and key performance indicators and targets. If an organization does not have a sustainable business plan, CIOs must push to have one in place.

Sustainability is the result of success of the ESG strategy. It is the outcome of an enterprise’s commitment to solving environmental, social and governance issue

For most enterprises, sustainability and ESG programs are data and technology-intensive. Strategize with the individual executives who have the primary responsibility for the most material/significant issues identified in the material assessment and related strategic plans to identify opportunities, establish clear priorities and build a suitable business case for investment.

Making Your Digital Infra Sustainable

For businesses in specific fields, such as financial services, professionals and technology, digital knowledge and technology itself is a matter of material sustainability. In such cases, you will need to improve the sustainability of the IT / digital infrastructure and the services themselves.

Potential measures include: increasing the capacity and efficiency of IT infrastructure and workstations, implementing circular economic processes in partnership with retailers and service providers to improve e-waste management, increase recycling, renewal and harvesting of components and reduce Scope 3 emissions supply.

Applying digital to sustainability

Existing IT systems cannot address all material problems, so it is important to invest in solutions that help make products, services and processes digital, improve resources and energy efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions. In a Gartner study, 63% of respondents indicated investment in IT and digital solutions are part of their sustainability strategies.

Investment in digital sustainability is closely related to solutions that dematerialize a product, service or process somewhere along the life cycle, improve resources and energy efficiency or reduce carbon emissions. Examples include investing in solutions such as Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to address material issues, such as:

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Waste management: Sustainable waste management is a key factor in the success of ESG, limiting environmental harm, and ensuring global eco-sustainability goals are met. There are many initiatives that can help in achieving that – for instance AI can help in reusable transport packaging that can provide location, status and other data, to optimize cost as well as carbon footprint.

Similarly sustainable sourcing and product transparency ensure the step taken towards these initiatives find their goal.

Sustainable sourcing:  Sustainable sourcing is the integration of social, ethical and environmental performance factors into the process of selecting suppliers. It includes purchasing sustainably preferable products and services (products made from recycled or remanufactured materials), as well as green purchasing guidelines that might pertain to certain products or commodities.

Wearable devices can detect and warn employees of health problems, while AI may decide that the project will be a threat to water or wildlife.

Product transparency: Labeling products with their whole life cycle impact allows consumers to make more sustainable decisions and beats current labeling processes.

A good strategy for leadership is to engage with strategic IT and digital partners to understand how they can contribute to your enterprise’s sustainability goals.

Improving data quality, traceability and accessibility:

Monitoring and delivering ESG KPIs takes quality data and insights. The key challenge is to ensure the accuracy of what is reported. As investors and customers are increasingly demanding transparency around ESG, it’s best to gather information from a variety of programs and use it to improve data quality, accessibility and tracking.

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Swapnil Mishra

Swapnil Mishra is a Business News Reporter with over six years of experience in journalism and mass communication. With an impressive track record in the industry, Swapnil has worked with different media outlets and has developed technical expertise in drafting content strategies, executive leadership, business strategy, industry insights, best practices, and thought leadership. Swapnil is a journalism graduate who has a keen eye for editorial detail and a strong sense of language skills. She brings her extensive knowledge of the industry to every article she writes, ensuring that her readers receive the most up-to-date and informative news possible. Swapnil's writing style is clear, concise, and engaging, making her articles accessible to readers of all levels of expertise. Her technical expertise, coupled with her eye for detail, ensures that she produces high-quality content that meets the needs of her readers. She calls herself a plant mom and wants to have her own jungle someday.

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