85% of people are willing to cancel their relationship with a brand that does not take sustainability and social initiatives seriously. What does this mean for CIOs?

The corporate world has been falling over itself to express its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) credentials.

While the intentions are right and have merits, the efforts are still falling short.

People around the world are demanding more progress on sustainability and social efforts and are looking at businesses to step up. They are also fed up with the lack of progress society is making toward sustainability and social initiatives, according to a new study by Oracle and Pamela Rucker, CIO Advisor, Instructor for Harvard Professional Development.

The report titled “No Planet B” covered more than 11,000 consumers and business leaders in 15 countries. It found that while 92% of business leaders globally believe sustainability is the key for their organization to succeed, a similar percentage (91%) report facing major obstacles to implementing ESG programs.

“Businesses are recognizing the need to have environmental sustainability. Our study found that 97% of people in India believe that sustainability and social initiatives are the topmost priority for corporates, and they are all geared to step up towards that path,” said Kaushik Mitra, Senior Director, Cloud ERP, Oracle India.

Mitra added that cloud along with emerging technologies have a strong role to take the sustainability agenda for businesses ahead, helping them derive sustainable business practices to succeed in the long run and make a difference to the environment. “Being a cloud leader, we’re empowering enterprises with large distribution networks to make their critical business processes more sustainable.”

Unilever is a classic example of this empowerment. The consumer goods giant has deployed Oracle Fusion Transportation Management to improve communication with providers, streamline shipping, optimizing its vehicle use, which in turn reduced waste, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and other pollutants.

As companies face rising demands from consumers, governments, and their own boards, a clear sustainability vision combined with some real creativity—and enabled by innovative technologies, including AI and machine learning, can both make an environmental difference and enhance a company’s brand reputation.” The report found that 84 percent globally and 96 percent in India believe businesses would make more progress towards sustainability and social goals with the help of AI.

Bots: Saviors of business and the planet

Bots in the right hands can do a lot of good. With a pinch of creativity, they can be utilized to raise social concerns and be used in corporate sustainability.

While technologies like AI, blockchain, and IoT have been put to use in the fight against ESG, bots too, can support this fight.

According to the findings, 93 percent of business leaders globally would trust a bot over a human to make sustainability and social decisions.

In India, 98 percent of business leaders are willing to place their faith in a bot over a human to make sustainability and social decisions. They believe bots are better at collecting different types of data without error (53 percent); making rational, unbiased decisions (56 percent); and predicting future outcomes based on metrics/past performance (50 percent).

“The technology that can eliminate all the obstacles to ESG efforts is now available, and organizations that get this right can not only support their communities and the environment, but also realize significant revenue gains, cost savings, and other benefits that impact the bottom line,” said Juergen Lindner, senior vice president and CMO, Global Marketing SaaS, Oracle.

While tech alone can’t save the planet, it can definitely help strategically in our efforts towards ESG initiatives.

The CIO’s role in sustainability: It is time for IT to get busy

While going green is not easy, CIOs and tech leaders will need to figure out a way to do it, and soon.

There are multiple factors that are prompting business and IT leaders to give sustainability more attention.

One, consumers expect that the companies they buy from act responsibly towards the environment. Second, employees want to be associated with or work for companies that represent their values and act on them.

The conversation around sustainability needs to broaden and include a heightened sense of accountability. A mere ‘lip service’ will not suffice.

“We are committed to sustainable growth by reducing the carbon footprint through our ‘Go Green’ initiatives. Our adoption of Oracle WMS platform was pivoted around agility and sustainability achieved via paperless operations, increased accuracy and efficiency of our overall logistics operations,” said Kapil Mahajan, Group CIO of Safexpress.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Earth must reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 to avoid serious environmental repercussions, and citizens expect companies to take the lead. This is trigger enough for businesses and IT leaders to pursue environmental sustainability initiatives.

And just in case inhibitions still persist, there is one word that every business understands – profit.

The No Planet B report revealed that 70 percent globally, and 85 percent of people in India would be willing to cancel their relationship with a brand that does not take sustainability and social initiatives seriously.

In India, if organizations can clearly demonstrate the progress they are making on environmental and social issues, people would be more willing to pay a premium for their products and services (97 percent); invest in their companies (93 percent); and work for them (94 percent).

All these are reasons enough to put sustainability on the CIO’s strategic agenda.

(Lead Image Source: Oracle.com)

By Ashwani Mishra

Ashwani Mishra is the Executive Editor at DynamicCIO.com and DynamicCISO.com. In his previous role he was the Editor at The Economic Times (ETCIO.com and ETCISO.in). He has around 17 years of experience in the IT Media space, and has also worked in senior editorial positions at The CTO Forum (now CIO & Leader), CXOtoday.com and UBM (Network Computing).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.