SUSTAINABILITY FOCUS 23

How the tech industry can play its part in reducing carbon emissions Corporate social responsibility is now a business imperative and should be leading the business agenda. Technology companies need to demonstrate that they are taking sustainability and a reduction of their impact on the environment seriously. It’s a huge subject and more and more we are seeing customers demanding to know what we are doing. By Scott Dodds, CEO, Ultima Business Solutions

As an industry, we can’t keep taking raw materials out of the earth as they are running out and digital leaching is also ruining our environment. We need to get better fast. Throughout the pandemic, the impact a company has on wider society has been brought into sharp focus. Companies are rightly being judged on their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) activity, including charitable endeavours and how they give back to the local community. In the future companies won’t be on a supplier list unless they can demonstrate their commitment to the environment. So how can a tech company improve its ESG practices?

How to improve your ESG practices

From looking at how to reduce your carbon footprint to using sustainability calculators to work out the impact of cloud services; energy efficiencies, renewable energy, circular economies and asset disposal and refurbishment of technology are all important areas of focus.

Why not try the following:

•Appoint a ‘ESG head’ to drive your green agenda. This will give your company the drive and focus to hold it to account and ensure that you arrive at a specified target or deliver on a set of objectives.

•Involve employees in setting company goals and plans to achieve covering topics such as employee experience and environmental, social, & governance. Engaging employees at this stage will help them to feel valued and encouraged. After all, lessoning an employees’ impact on the environment is just as important as lessoning tech’s impact.

•Inspire employees to make a difference by giving them volunteering days each year and as a company, participate in fundraising and awareness campaigns, such as sponsored walks/runs, sleep outs, take part in food collections for the local food bank and operate a Cycle to Work scheme.

•Deliver an employee wellbeing programme that could include initiatives such as flexible working, wellness days, generous annual leave, sports clubs, development and training schemes, benefits platforms.

•Lead by example as a company and opt to go paperless, use eco-friendly cleaning products and provide employees with reusable items including water bottles and lunchboxes. Ensure that your office maximises natural light and use energy efficient lighting. Provision office-supplied equipment to automatically ‘power off’ after a certain amount of idle time.

What is Ultima doing?

At Ultima, we’re doing all of the above, as we believe it’s important to do everything we can to support the environment, local community and give back to others. Our goal was to reduce energy consumption by 5% by the end of 2020, by 15% by 2025 and to be carbon neutral by 2030. In order to reach this target, we have identified key areas around transport policy, lighting and heating through our ESOS reports which will allow this to be achieved. We are also partnering with Ecologi to plant 15,000 trees by 2030. We’re planting a tree for each new starter, each webinar or event registration and every virtual meeting.

We’ve committed to putting sustainable technologies at the heart of our work. Our IA-Cloud solution has been purpose built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. A 2019 study found that Azure is up to 93 per cent more energy-efficient and up to 98 per cent more carbon efficient than on-premises solutions. It’s estimated that a greater reliance on cloud computing can reduce per-user carbon footprint by 30% for large companies and 90% for small businesses and so we have embedded cloud into everything we do.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we share their global vision to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more and have signed their partner pledge. We have also signed HP Inc's Amplify Impact Pledge to drive meaningful change, assess our sustainability efforts and identify areas for improvement.

We are a responsible supplier of IT goods and services and choose our supply chain in a responsible manner. We work with our partner N2S to ensure all our old IT is recycled or destroyed in the most environmental way possible.

This year we have invested in training and to becoming a carbon neutral company, ensuring we are playing our part in taking care of our employees, the communities we operate in, and the wider environment.

We’re passionate about doing our part to support the local community and actively support three local charities:

•Mind - we are campaigning to raise awareness and promote the understanding of the importance of good mental health through a series of fundraising activities and events.

•Starting Point – we are encouraging staff to act as mentors to this local charity who provide support and mentoring for disadvantaged young people aged 16-25, who are not in education, employment or training, to give them a brighter future.

•ReadiFood - we hold monthly food collections in the office for ReadiFood, a local foodbank. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to donate to the charity with staff donating food on a monthly basis when they visit the office.

We’re at the edge of the precipice for the next generation. Sustainability and humanity’s response to climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. The time is now to ensure technology helps reduce man’s impact on climate and still allows business and personal interests to flourish. Everyone has a part to play and the technology industry has an enormous responsibility as we can help with the reduction of carbon emissions from allowing effective communication globally.

It’s easy for us as an industry to pay lip service to ESG issues, but it’s critical we all set specific, measurable targets to reduce our impact on the environment and improve diversity. And we need to hold each other accountable to those targets. It’s not too late to plan for a cleaner, greener future.


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