Similar Paths to Adoption: Sustainability and Technology
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Similar Paths to Adoption: Sustainability and Technology
Early in my career, I focused on helping businesses become more efficient and effective through the use of technology. I worked with companies at various levels of technological proficiency. With certain clients, I spent more time discussing the value of technology as a performance and profitability driver, while other clients wanted to use it more as a catalyst for innovation.
Later, I aligned my profession with my passion, and shifted my career to sustainability. I quickly recognized the similarities between implementing a new technology application and implementing a sustainability strategy. Each forces a foundational shift in the way business is done. Once sustainability becomes a core value, or a new piece of technology becomes a part of our daily work, it is nearly impossible to go back.
At its core, technology’s role is to increase operational efficiency and has succeeded in extending a business’s reach. Sustainability, on the other hand, recalibrates the way we work to ensure the success of future generations. It focuses a company’s efforts on more than just financial gains, but triple bottom line. Sustainability and technology are both used to improve business operations and drive product innovation.
Recognizing the following key similarities between sustainability and technology provide insights that can result in a successful implementation:
Relatively new concept. Both sustainability and emerging technologies are progressive ideas. This means a lot of uncertainty. Any time a business is presented with a new idea or tool that is unproven or superfluous, questions get raised. Be ready to address those issues head on, and with value.
Education is critical. With newer ideas or practices, educating end-users on the value of these strategies is essential. They need to understand and feel the value that sustainability and technology can provide to them personally.
Clear return. If done right, both technology and sustainability have proven financial returns. Be clear to address why this chosen strategy or implementation is not another tire-kicker.
Needs executive buy-in. Too often during my days in software would I see an implementation fail because executive leadership was not fully engaged. Sustainability faces the same threat. If lower-level employees do not see that executives are on board, progress will be stifled. Make sure to have an executive champion involved from the beginning.
A change in behavior is necessary. Both adoption of a new technology and the implementation of a sustainability strategy require process or procedural changes which can face resistance among employees. Making this shift easy, valuable, and engaging is paramount in achieving long-term success.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to fail. Tackling a new initiative is hard work and inevitably you will make mistakes. But if you’re passionate and you stick with it, you will succeed.
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Statement from the most senior decision-maker of the organization about relevance of sustainability to the organization and the organization’s strategy for addressing sustainability
Name of the organization
Primary brands, products, and services
Location of organization’s headquarters
Number of countries where the organization operates, and names of countries with significant operations or that are specifically relevant to the sustainability topics covered in the report
Nature of ownership and legal form
Scale of the reporting organization
Total workforce by employment type, employment contract, and region, broken down by gender
Percentage of total employees covered by collective bargaining agreements
Description of the organization’s supply chain
Significant changes during the reporting period regarding organization's size, structure, ownership, or supply chain
Whether and how the precautionary approach or principle is addressed by the organization
Externally developed economic, environmental, and social charters, principles, or other initiatives to which the organization subscribes or endorses
Memberships in associations and/or national/international advocacy organizations
Entities included in the organization consolidated financial and nonfinancial reports
Process for defining report content
Material aspects identified in the process for defining report content
For each material aspect, the aspect boundary within the organization
For each material aspect, the aspect boundary outside the organization
Explanation of the effect of and reasons for any restatements of information provided in earlier reports
Significant changes from previous reporting periods in the scope and aspect boundaries
List of stakeholder groups engaged by the organization
The basis for identification and selection of stakeholders with whom to engage
The organization’s approach to stakeholder engagement, including frequency of engagement by type and by stakeholder group, and an indication of whether any of the engagement was undertaken specifically as part of the report preparation process
Key topics and concerns that have been raised through stakeholder engagement, and how the organization has responded to those key topics and concerns, including through its reporting. Report the stakeholder groups that raised each of the key topics and concerns
Date of most recent previous report
Contact point for questions regarding the report or its contents
‘In accordance’ option and GRI Content Index
Policy and current practice with regard to seeking external assurance for the report
Governance structure of organization, including committees of the highest governance body
The organization’s values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics
Disclosure on Management Approach for Aspect
Coverage of the organization’s defined benefit plan obligations.
Financial assistance received from government.
Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts.
Total number and rates of new employee hires and employee turnover by age group, gender and region.
Average hours of training per year per employee, by gender and by employee category.
Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews, by gender and by employee category.