The attitude towards corporate sustainability is shifting. What once started as “greenwashing” annual reports, is increasingly framing and shaping operating models, business processes, and even core products — sometimes driving the enterprise to new markets with unexplored opportunities.
A growing world population — set to reach 8.6 billion by 2030 — and rising standards of living drive up energy consumption: the demand for electricity, natural gas, fuels, and water will double or even triple in the next few decades. Carbon dioxide emissions have already increased by 90 percent since 1970, and energy accounts for approximately 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Leading businesses across many industries have already made it a priority to be smarter about their consumption habits and their products. They use renewable production resources, invent products running on renewable energy, and operate with a “climate-neutral” goal. You may think that this attitude costs competitive edge, but engaged employees can use technology to create new products, business models, and even markets.
Next-Generation Technology Advancing Sustainability
Companies are already using technology to drive corporate sustainability through the use of innovative technology. Apple and other leading tech companies move towards 100 percent renewable energy. Many cloud data centers — including SAP’s — apply the same approach and enable their customers to reduce their carbon footprint without touching their energy infrastructure.
In the workspace, shifting towards virtual conference rooms and incorporating advanced video conferencing components allows for employees from any location to meet without having to move. Next-generation collaboration technology reduces the amount of emissions companies release through the use of transportation. As more employees are located all around the world, implementing cutting-edge innovations in the office allows meetings to be more efficient and companies to reduce their carbon footprint by decreasing travel and commuting.
Employee Engagement Driving Growth
Many companies in the utilities industry will lose half of their workforce to retirement in the next five to 10 years. This means those that have been working in the field for decades will take decades worth of experience home with them. Leading utilities are using this disruption to re-imagine their business processes and business models to make their operations thrive in markets that are driven by rules demanding growth strategies under sustainability considerations.
For a company to truly ‘go green’ it’s critical to create core values that align with sustainability. Fortunately, this is something employees want! In an employee survey, 91 percent of respondents said they want their company to seriously pursue sustainability. Conserving energy not only has a strong internal impact — good sustainability practices positively influence stock prices and improve the market position, in particular as customers are integrating sustainability aspects into their buying decisions.
As the population increases and energy consumption increases too, we need to get serious about corporate sustainability. With advancements in next-gen technology, it’s now possible to leverage real-time insights to deliver better results. Positive change will occur when employees and shareholders consider sustainability a key pillar within company values. Right now, we’re at an exciting time since some of the industries with the most potential for revenue growth are in the renewable energy industries. The more collaboration we create between tech advancements and employee engagement, the more opportunities for corporate sustainability we’ll see globally.
Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay