3 minute read 12 Aug 2019
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Sustainability and the technology sector: responding to the challenge

By Lorraine McCann

EY Ireland Climate Change and Sustainability Services Lead

SME in climate change and sustainability advisory and assurance services, and Co-Chair of the EY Women’s Network Ireland.

3 minute read 12 Aug 2019

Today, reporting on sustainability performance is a basic expectation of stakeholders, and if you’re not reporting, you’re already behind your peers and competitors.

Sustainability is about being agile and responsive to stakeholder demands. In an ever-changing world, people and machines are interacting in new and unpredictable ways.

The way we use technology is impacted by a wide range of environmental, social and economic factors. Companies that anticipate these global challenges and proactively consider the broader range of risks and opportunities can set themselves apart and benefit long into the future.

Here I will outline some of the main challenges facing the technology sector from a sustainability perspective.

Talent attraction and retention

There’s a massive challenge in attracting talent to the technology sector and keeping it there. Today’s generation want company values to align with their personal values.

Companies are expected to be accountable for the impact of their products or services, and those that innovate and commit to addressing important global issues are more attractive to skilled workers.

In terms of sustainability, companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have set the standard for what ‘good’ looks like and others find it hard to compete.

Investment in the personal and professional development of staff is critical. Across the sector, we have seen investment in learning and development, diversity and inclusion and a focus on STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

To compete, companies of all sizes must embrace sustainability and make the people agenda a mainstay of their corporate strategy.

Supply chain

The components that go into technology products can come from regions that are challenged from an ethics and conduct perspective.

Human rights regulations in certain regions now require companies to undertake due diligence on where their products are being sourced to avoid contributing to possible human rights abuses across the supply chain.

Renewable energy

Stringent global emissions reduction targets coupled with significant divestment from fossil fuels, is shining a spotlight on renewables. The technology sector must be innovative and respond to this global challenge by creating products and services which are less energy intensive and more efficient.

Increasing operational and resource efficiency has a direct impact on the bottom line, whilst also improving brand and reputation.

Climate change is a key business risk today, given the potential exposure to carbon pricing, the rising cost of raw materials and possible impact on production.

Companies are implementing climate strategies to understand and mitigate the potential risks and create cost savings through energy innovation.

Don’t be left behind on sustainability

Today, reporting on sustainability performance is a basic expectation of stakeholders, and if you’re not reporting, you’re already behind your peers and competitors.

New sustainability regulations are in effect, and will continue to emerge, so it’s important that sustainability is seen to be both a compliance risk and opportunity for your organisation.

If you don’t manage your sustainability strategy now, the kind of risks you could be exposed to are considerable.

At EY, we work with clients to help them identify the key sustainability drivers, risks and opportunities facing their business to generate long-term value for their stakeholders.

Summary

To compete, companies of all sizes must embrace sustainability and make the people agenda a mainstay of their corporate strategy.

About this article

By Lorraine McCann

EY Ireland Climate Change and Sustainability Services Lead

SME in climate change and sustainability advisory and assurance services, and Co-Chair of the EY Women’s Network Ireland.