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A sustainability storm - why should organizations care?

Patrick Smith Profile picture for user Patrick Smith May 15, 2024
Summary:
Patrick Smith of Pure Storage breaks down the top five reasons why sustainability is so important, not just for the planet, but for the bottom line.

Lightening storm at sunset © Andreya - Canva.com
(© Andreya - Canva.com)

There’s another storm brewing around sustainability and for those who have been tracking the topic for years, it’s a surprising one that’s dividing opinion. In the US, there’s a movement from some organizations to minimize environmental considerations for financial investments, with some states enacting regulation to keep ESG off the agenda. Over in Europe, the opposite is happening with companies being taken to court in the Netherlands for not being green enough, fast enough. As a result of the Energy Efficiency Act, in Germany, all organizations must report on their goals and plan to be carbon neutral, (in line with EU regulations) by 2045. As part of this, by 2030, German organizations need to have made real progress to achieving these goals.

This contrast is striking because of the amount of awareness there is for the importance of sustainability. People should be doing their bit to reduce carbon emissions and holding their organizations and governments accountable to act sustainably too. It impacts all areas; from the small-scale decisions such as buying a new laptop; to the large scale, such as what’s in an organization’s tech stack; and then macro decisions of governments and industry.

While many organizations have embraced the need to be more sustainable, here are five reasons for anyone that still needs a nudge. 

1. Look at existing frameworks for guidance

The pace of change can seem slow and cumbersome as there are so many paths to choose and many different methodologies to adhere to. Start with measurement - Scope 1, 2 and 3 to understand an organization’s individual starting point. Once there’s understanding of the situation, look at external frameworks to help reduce emissions and map progress.

There are the GRI and SASB reporting frameworks as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The CSRD strengthens the rules concerning the social and environmental information that companies have to report. These new rules aim to help investors when assessing the impact that companies have on society and the environment as well as guiding organizations before making purchasing decisions . These are a good thing to ensure both companies and governments are acting in a responsible manner and working to reduce overall emissions. These frameworks also level the playing field and mean it’s largely possible to compare apples with apples.

2. Customers want this

This is no longer a box ticking exercise, it has become a business level criterion for selecting suppliers. A few years ago, customers weren’t asking for information on how sustainable technology was or what can vendors/ suppliers do to help them meet their sustainability goals. However now, Pure Storage sees green credentials incorporated into every RFP that’s responded to. It’s not for show - it’s a key part of how decisions are being made. Global companies are telling technology suppliers that they have to adhere to certain standards, and demonstrate accurate figures for reduced energy use or they wont be considered.  

Not only that but technology channel partners are developing their own practices dedicated to sustainability. The winners are going to be the ones who have developed expertise, know how to identify technology which is truly green, and can advise customers on the best path. Flash technology is one such area for data storage. Some flash solutions are engineered to be up to 85% more energy efficient and take up less space in data centers as well as requiring less power to run and cool. E-waste is another consideration - organizations should select suppliers who can significantly reduce the volume and regularity of devices sent to landfill. 

3. The economic opportunities are huge 

There will be a wave of new companies springing up to cater for a growing demand in the market to support sustainability strategies. Not only that, but the organizations who have been delivering more sustainable solutions for years will reap the benefit in terms of customer satisfaction and reducing both their and their customer’s carbon use. 

As mentioned above, customers are asking for this: ESG goals, emissions targets, adherence to national and international standards are all being added to RFPs. Those companies who can’t prove they’re taking strides to reduce their carbon emissions or aren’t working to meet Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets will be financial losers as they are being excluded from deals already. Businesses need to start approaching ESG issues from all different angles. Without leaning too much on an old business trope - this is the time for out of the box thinking. 

4. Moral obligations

The evidence is there - the planet has exceeded 1.5 degrees of global warming across an entire year. For the sake of future generations and a healthy planet, more must be done to manage and reduce emissions and energy consumption. If not enough is done to reduce global warming, it will quickly become a more expensive problem with thousands, if not millions of displaced people who will need to permanently move. Some countries' governments are closely monitoring false claims: in the UK, the advertising watchdog will use AI to clamp down on phony environmental claims and make it easier for organizations to select suppliers who are truly doing ‘the right thing’. 

5. Talent acquisition - and every part of E, S and G

The workforce of the future do not wish to work for empty shell companies only out for profit. How an organization approaches and enacts sustainability is drawing more attention. Especially for those of the younger generation. Employees and future team members are important stakeholders who should not be overlooked when it comes to making decisions based on sustainability criteria, or the social responsibility and corporate governance aspects of ESG.

Riding the storm

For many organizations, being more sustainable is an obvious choice. The evidence is there that it’s vitally important for our futures. It will create new business opportunities for innovation and growth for those who are savvy and forward looking. Recently an analyst from Barclays was calling on tech companies to play a more active role and contribute power back to the grid, for example by generating more renewable energy. If organizations and government departments all make progress, it will be easier to embrace this change and weather the storm to create a more sustainable future.

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