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IT departments play a vital role in driving ESG

Last month Crimson’s CIO Search practice hosted an intimate dinner at the historic George Hotel in Stamford, Lincolnshire. A dozen technology leaders from the public, private, and voluntary sectors were invited to enjoy an evening of fine dining and discussion. In this series of blogs, we unpack the debate and explore unmissable content around IT leadership.

What is ESG?

ESG stands for Environmental, social, and corporate governance. It stipulates that organisations should behave ethically, with planned actions towards maximising diversity within the business and minimising environmental impact. Employers should also consider customers, employees, and the impact of their business on the wider community. Derived from the days of Corporate Social Responsibility, where it was seen as an excellent idea to promote charity involvement, and plant trees, it was a nice to have a marketing tool. ESG is quickly becoming a legal requirement where companies will be expected to report on their actions.

We’re all at different points in the journey, but expectations are rising, and regulations are appearing in various sectors. We have witnessed pledges, policies, and now organisations are achieving ratings on various ESG indexes, but what role do IT departments play in ESG?

How can IT departments lead on ESG?

The IT function should focus on gathering data and building data models to ensure an auditable trail.

Tech leaders need to prioritise sustainability

Sustainability is a crucial conversation; consumers are buying more planet-friendly products, and candidates are shunning organisations that do not accept responsibility. However, according to the Digital Leadership Report, in 2021, only nine percent of boards prioritise improving sustainability with technology.

How can IT departments reduce energy consumption

  • Reduce the number of systems you use
  • Don’t keep data you don’t need
  • Switch to renewable energy suppliers
  • Phase out legacy systems
  • Purchase energy efficient computers
  • Automate machines to switch off when they are not being used
  • Look at your supply chain, where servers are being hosted etc

How can IT departments help fuel diversity

  • Improve awareness around Accessiblity and implement tools – such as Microsoft’s free Accessiblity training.
  • Complete training around diversity and inclusion
  • Review jobs adverts for bias language
  • Introduce blind interviews and ensure diverse interview panels
  • Remove technology bias from Interviewing such as AI
  • Use a recruitment agency like Crimson that will help you attract a diverse set of candidates
  • Upskill existing employees
  • Introduce Apprenticeship scheme’s

Wait, this is just the tip of the iceberg with ESG

You can donate old IT equipment and even help with retention by using automation to reduce workloads and promote wellbeing with tools such as Quiet Hours from Microsoft. Consumer data and privacy is also a huge consideration, and what stance an organisation will take on this whilst trying to deliver a personable service.

Act now or get left behind

Whilst some organisations are reactive, some are more proactive. So, for example, we're now seeing Sustainability Officers in leading organisations. It's their job to investigate, plan and help communicate an organisation's consumption and purpose, which is so important right now.

Your customers won't want to work with companies who don't look after employees, customers and the world around them. Implementing ESG successfully and communicating your actions will lead to more profitability and loyalty from customers. ESG must be woven into the company's fabric, not just an initiative. Undoubtedly, CIOs with a passion for ESG and demonstrable experience will likely be in massive demand over the next few years.

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Crimson is an IT consultancy, an IT solutions provider, an IT recruitment agency, and a Microsoft Gold Partner operating across the UK.