One of the most important functions of your CTO (Chief Technology Officer) is to provide leadership for sustainability initiatives in your company’s technology sector. But what exactly does this entail? How should he or she be acting as the steward of your sustainability initiatives? And why should they be doing it? We’ll look at these questions and more in this post on sustainability leadership by CTOs, including five rules you should set up around their responsibility to lead your efforts toward sustainable growth.
1) Think About sustainability in technology services Like You Would Any Other Investment
Sure, 80% of large enterprises produce sustainability reports regularly, but according to Gartner’s research* only 25% of them actually practice green methods for their IT operations. Though measuring technology-based products and services footprint is difficult and complex, CTOs must think of it like they would any other investment.
These days, ESG practice is no longer just around the question “What do we lose if we didn’t”, rather, it had evolved to “How we can make an impact using our resources”. Thus it is the CTO mission, as a sustainability leader, to create a clear vision of how the organization is currently practicing sustainability and how it can perform better while creating an impact in the future.
* Data Source: Gartner. (2021 ID: G00754733).
2) Think Bigger than Just Renewable Energy
As important as renewable energy might be, it’s just one piece of a much larger puzzle. CTOs need to consider all types of innovation when it comes to sustainability strategies—including technologies that reduce greenhouse gases, save water and encourage community-wide sustainable development. As an entrepreneur, you can think bigger than just renewable energy when working on your own company’s technology strategy. Startups should include any technology solutions in their plan that will help them maintain their competitive edge over other companies in their industry. They can do so by focusing on four areas: products, services, customer retention, and employee management. If startups don’t implement these tactics early on in their business plan, they risk falling behind their competitors down the road. These are some of the best tips for getting ahead while staying green.
3) Use Tech to Track Your Impact
Your company might already have a program in place to measure your impact on key business metrics, but if you want to go above and beyond from a social and environmental standpoint, look for ways to integrate sustainability into every department. The key factor here is to define the right metrics, then follow along with a plan. The insights can be used to inform your technology strategy—and innovation culture—to ensure that what’s good for employees, customers, society, and Mother Nature can be profitable too. If you’re looking to get started down this path toward sustainable success, begin by asking questions like What do we need in order to reduce our carbon footprint? How much water should we use? Where are our products made? (Yes, your off-shore activities and employees matter too) Are there sustainable alternatives out there that aren’t more expensive than traditional options? What kinds of waste do our operations produce? You don’t necessarily need to answer these queries before implementing an initiative; instead, identifying these key topics will make it easier to gain buy-in at all levels of your organization, and using the right technology to track it would make it far easier.
4) Make your Strategic Investments ESG oriented
ESG or environmental, social and governance investments is a term that can be used to describe any investment made with sustainability in mind. ESG investing has become more popular over time, as firms are now looking to benefit their shareholders through social responsibility. It’s important for CTOs to understand how critical ESG integration is for IT Strategy. Ultimately, technology companies have tremendous power to influence positive change on a global scale. CTOs should take an active role in directing company spending towards products and services with environmentally-friendly characteristics. Creating a digital experience that not only performs but also reflects sustainable values will ensure long-term growth.
While it may sound simple at first glance, making sure your team members have all of the information they need from one place is no easy task.
5) Innovate at Every Level
Sustainable practices aren’t just for PR. They can yield savings on energy, water, and other resources that help keep a company leaner and more competitive in today’s economy. In fact, it’s been found that green businesses are more productive than their industry peers. That means greening up every aspect of a business—from technology strategy to manufacturing processes—will leave a lasting impact on a company’s bottom line while also reducing its carbon footprint. That may mean restructuring operations, updating equipment, or investing in new technologies. Whatever these changes entail, making them across-the-board will do far more good than paying lip service to sustainable practices only at executive levels.