Exec Connect: 5 key ESG takeaways from our latest roundtable

  • ServiceNow Blog
  • Solutions
  • Cybersecurity and Risk
  • 2022
07 December 2022

Exec Connect ESG takeaways: Photo of welcome sign to event

A report published by the United Nations’ High-Level Expert Group warned businesses it’s time to get serious about climate change. Greenwashing—a lack of solid commitment to change—and general uncertainty regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters can’t continue.

Speaking on the matter, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Using bogus net-zero pledges to cover up massive fossil-fuel expansion is reprehensible...This toxic cover-up could push our world over the climate cliff. The sham must end.”

Among the hot-button issues on the business agenda today, ESG takes centre stage. It’s a vast topic that can be notoriously difficult to navigate.

We recently invited several business leaders from large organisations across a range of industries to discuss how they’re navigating their ESG strategies, why ESG matters, and how we can help make it easier. We’ve collected five key takeaways from the roundtable:

1. The right data is everything

We heard from customers across industries from education to media and telecoms to financial services. They’re all facing the same challenge regarding ESG: measuring the success of their efforts.

Getting it right depends on how you manage your data and whether you have the right data in the first place.

For example, each vendor or link added to a supply chain increases its scale and complexity. The result? With large supply chains, getting all the information you need can seem impossible.

With compliance at risk, it’s not good enough to simply send out a survey, because you don’t know if you can trust that data. Instead, you should look for ways to capture the right data across all stages of the supply chain—and invest in the technology that makes it possible.

2. Focus on outcomes first

Attendees generally agreed that rather than employing untested methods or concentrating on a particular strategy, the focus should be on outcomes. No analyst can measure the success of something without knowing what success looks like.

Determine exactly what a successful outcome means for your business—whether that’s more sustainable practices, reduced waste, or a more inclusive recruitment process. Then work backwards to outline how you can get to that point.

3. Getting the technology right is key

During the roundtable, it became apparent that technology is holding customers back from achieving their ESG goals. There are two reasons for this:

  • To navigate ESG successfully, we need to maximise the data we capture. However, data centres and cloud computing are responsible for between 2.5% and 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to The Shift Project, so using them to help solve sustainability problems may compound the problem.
  • Many companies still rely on legacy technology that's expensive to run, difficult to upgrade, and doesn’t allow for a streamlined, single-server view of ESG operations.

When it comes to determining what technology can support an ESG journey, we need to consider simple, single-server solutions that can coexist with legacy systems—as well as how we can make that technology greener.

4. ESG plays a vital role in the war for talent

Almost all businesses are feeling the effects of the ongoing talent crisis. During the roundtable, a panellist mentioned that more and more candidates are asking ESG-related questions during the interview stage.

The new generation of talent is extremely interested in how socially and environmentally responsible a company’s processes are. They’re also more likely to decide where to forge a career based on how well a company meets these metrics.

For companies interested in hiring and retaining the best talent, prioritising ESG is ;a great place to start.

5. Collaboration is a must

Almost everything related to ESG is intrinsically linked. It’s not enough to focus on one element of it, because each area affects another. Diversity impacts recruitment, which is impacted by sustainability practices, and soon. Business leaders understand this.

They also understand that companies can’t tackle this issue alone. Instead, they need to ensure ESG practices are embedded—without silos—across the entire organisation. And they must be willing to lean on other companies where possible.

For example, a company looking to implement sustainable cloud solutions could work with its cloud provider, which in turn would seek support from a green energy provider.

There’s a whole ecosystem of support out there. It’s up to us to make the most of it.

Continuing the conversation

There’s no single, one-size-fits-all solution for ESG-related matters. By opening the conversation and sharing our learned experiences, we can make it easier to navigate the entire journey. 

Find out how ServiceNow helps organisations navigate ESG.

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