What it means to 'Go Green' in the tech industry
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. If we are to halt the rising temperatures and guarantee a liveable planet for ourselves, our children, and the natural world, all of us need to make significant changes.
When it comes to being greener, the tech industry is stuck in limbo. While 80% of tech CEOs place great importance on sustainability, only 65% feel satisfied by how their company is progressing towards those goals.
Some of this is down to the fear of greenwashing accusations. Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters recently stated that industry leaders are “terrified” of being accused of greenwashing. This fear often leads to caution when it comes to making strong green commitments, but with the tech industry currently accounting for between 2-3% of all global emissions, no tech company can afford to be static.
Going greener is ultimately a spectrum. Some innovators will be at the forefront of decarbonisation, developing tech that directly fights climate change. Cleantech start-ups such as Coolbrook, a Finnish start-up aiming to decarbonise heavy industries, or Wiliot, an Internet of Things (IoT) company helping to reduce emissions in global supply chains, are driving change with their ground-breaking tech. Others, such as Scope3, are developing products that empower other companies to reduce their emissions.
Not every brand needs to create groundbreaking tech or alternative solutions to make a positive impact on global emissions. However, not progressing in your decarbonisation journey will have serious consequences for the planet – as well as your bottom line.
The business case for going green
Consumers are also seeking out brands that offer a greener alternative. Over half of consumers revealed their perception of a brand is influenced by its sustainability practices, and with three-quarters of UK shoppers stating that they are doing their part to help with the climate crisis, they expect brands to be doing the same.
The benefits for businesses and brands that develop and promote sustainable initiatives don’t stop with consumer perception. Increasingly, investors look towards brands that prioritise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programmes. This is not solely for ethical reasons – high ESG performers enjoy faster growth and valuations, often by a margin of between 10-20%. Similarly, many brands are now prioritising greener supply chains, with over half of global businesses stating they have a sustainable procurement policy in place. Ultimately this means that tech companies that can prove their green credentials will gain an advantage over competitors.
It is also becoming increasingly important to employees that companies are actively becoming greener. This is especially true of Gen Z workers. They place sustainability credentials high on their list of priorities for a potential employee, with a third of Gen Z workers claiming to have turned down a job because of a company's poor green credentials. As the tech industry continues to struggle with talent shortages and mass layoffs, companies need to do what they can to ensure this upcoming generation can thrive in the workplace.
Your journey to greener business
Whether you are starting out on your journey to sustainability or already making headway, creating a roadmap with actionable and effective objectives is key. Not only is this crucial to ensuring that you keep your brand on track, but also creates accountability.
For tech companies, one of the best ways to achieve this is by gaining B Corp status. Companies that become accredited are judged on five areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Instead of focussing solely on the bottom line, those who attain B Corp status are legally committed to prioritising their people and planet, as well as profit.
From the foundation of my company GingerMay, I have always strived to create an organisation that not only drives value for its clients, but also one that creates an environment where staff can thrive, while finding a sustainable and responsible way to grow. Achieving B Corp status felt like a culmination of these goals. It also challenged us to be more sustainable with how we operate and who we partner with, as well implement the checks and balances needed to ensure we are continually striving to become more sustainable.
For any tech company looking to become greener, aiming to achieve B Corp status is an important first step.
The future is in our hands
Everyone has a part to play in the fight against climate change, but industry leaders have a bigger role to play than most. CEOs have a moral obligation to commit to fighting the climate crisis and ensuring that their companies are operating more sustainably.
This doesn’t have to happen all at once – but every tech company must now make changes to help reduce the impacts of climate change. With legislators and governments often moving too slowly to implement legislation, tech companies need to lead by example, embrace greener ways of operating, and help to create a better future for all.